Mountain View Public Library wins Putnam award

Mountain View Public Library won the 2005 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence from the League of California Cities for its Teen Zone, a homework center that local teenagers helped to design.

“We took a dark, dingy reading room and turned it into a bright, attractive octagonal space with a fireplace, a teen media center, and tables for group study,” says Karin Bricker, youth services supervising librarian. “We spread iron filings on the walls and then painted over them, so now kids spend hours making poetry on the walls with magnetic words. We also have a bulletin board that displays the best local teenage art.”

Bricker says that the library consulted junior high and high school students from the very beginning, asking for their help in planning the Teen Zone. A teenage advisory panel meets once a month to continue improving the center.

A grant-funded teenage homework assistant helps students with their homework in the Teen Zone, which also has a half-time librarian assigned to it. The library works closely with local schools, which provide the library with current school textbooks, so that students do not have to carry their textbooks to the library. The library also sponsors an inter-generational program of knitting and crocheting and an informal teenage book club that meet in the Teen Zone.

The Teen Zone is open from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays during the school year and two weekday evenings per week. It also is open on weekends. The Teen Zone is open whenever the library is.

Mountain View is a community of 70,000 near San Jose. The public library, founded in 1905, opened its current facility in 1997 and has 60,000 square feet. The Helen Putnam Award for Excellence was established by the League of California Cities in 1982 and recognizes innovative and effective civic programs in California 477 cities.


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