From College Grants to Manga; UWS Public Libraries Are Offering Programs to Attract Teens

St. Agnes Library. Courtesy of NYPL.

By Charlotte Hampton

The four Upper West Side branches of the New York Public Library (NYPL) are redoubling their efforts to attract teens — a generation with easy access to books and other reading materials online.

The four branches are: St. Agnes Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (between West 81st and West 82nd Streets); Riverside Library, 127 Amsterdam Ave (65th and 66th); The NYPL for the Performing Arts, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza; and Bloomingdale Library, 150 West 100th Street (bet. Amsterdam and Columbus.)

Representatives from some of the branches presented their teen programs at a January 20th Community Board 7 meeting of the Youth, Education, and Libraries Committee.

The Bloomingdale branch opened a new space for young adults following a two-year renovation project that was delayed by Covid. “Almost every afternoon, teens come in to do everything from homework to talking with friends or just chatting with us,” Sam Scala, the Teen Information Assistant at the Bloomingdale branch said. “Some come in during the school day if their classrooms have been closed from Covid exposures.”

The newly renovated Bloomingdale branch. Courtesy of NYPL.

The Bloomingdale branch is also a “Hub Branch” for the NYPL-run Intensive College and Career Access Network (ICCAN). Students are incentivized to participate in ICCAN by the possibility of winning a $1,000 or $1,500 “Magic Grant.” Through ICCAN, students can schedule one-on-one counseling sessions with a librarian about college and careers. Bloomingdale also attracts young people with community service hours necessary to graduate from many New York City high schools. If a student fills out a book review, they get credit for two hours of community service.

The Riverside Library is also offering help to college-seeking teenagers. Tommy Buttaccio, the supervising librarian, announced an upcoming Princeton Review practice SAT Exam at the Riverside branch, located close to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. [Check the website above for when.]

The libraries are also trying to stock literature, such as “manga,” an enormously popular Japanese graphic novel genre. “The kids are just devouring it. It’s really cool,” said Scala. The popularity of the manga genre led Bloomingdale to borrow more of the books from other branch libraries, according to Scala. And it paved the way for a series of trivia contest events on the “manga” and “anime” [all animated] genres. They publicize their calendar of events on their website and social media, and hand out fliers to young patrons.

Buttaccio said Riverside’s Young Adult Librarian is working on a similar “Comic Chat” program for teenagers.

Sarah West, the Senior Children’s Librarian at the St. Agnes branch, said she and her colleagues, working with the Trinity Upper School and PS9, have connected 241 kids with library cards since September. West added that the library has added video games as a key part of their programming for kids.


ART, NEWS | 2 comments | permalink
    1. LL says:

      Aw man, that is so cool. The library on 174th street (I am pretty sure that is the right street) does a great hob of attracting teens by having gaming contests. Manga works too

    2. Joe says:

      Have cafes or game rooms and video games to attract teens.