News for Pennsyslvania Libraries

PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) is pleased to announce that Teen Reading Lounge (TRL) will launch this March in Allegheny County. Six libraries will host the program through summer 2015. Participating libraries are: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – West End, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Squirrel Hill and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Hazelwood as well as the Edgewood branch of CC Mellor Memorial Library and Wilkinsburg Public Library. This is PHC’s and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s second time bringing the program to Western PA. In 2013, TRL launched in eight libraries in the region and engaged over 100 teens.

Teen Reading Lounge is PHC’s interactive reading program designed specifically to get teens talking about literature that matters to them. The program is developed in collaboration with library staff, teens and a local educator, humanities professional or teaching artist and features teen-focused readings and creative hands-on projects. Throughout the program, teens sharpen critical thinking abilities and build interpersonal, literacy and communication skills.

“PHC believes that including teen audiences in the public humanities is the first step in building a community of well-informed, highly-engaged adults. While TRL is a fun learning experience, it is also closely connected to important Pennsylvania learning standards and outcomes, such as reading comprehension, speaking, listening and interpersonal relationships,” said Laurie Zierer, PHC executive director.

Starting with a kick-off meeting at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty on March 7, host libraries and their facilitators will gather to learn more about engaging low-income and diverse teens through humanities programming and how to design experiences that strengthen 21st century life skills in participating youth.  Research by the U.S. Department of Education has shown that involving youth in quality out-of-school time experiences reduces delinquent behavior and can positively affect life and academic success.

“Through our partnership with PA Humanities Council, we have brought even more high interest, dynamic programming to young adults in Allegheny County,” said Michael Balkenhol, Teen Specialist, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Hazelwood, a featured library in the project’s first round. “At Teen Reading Lounge participants have an opportunity to learn and engage the world of literature and art with other teens in a safe learning space.”

PHC was recently named an Afterschool Champion by the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) which honors the outstand­ing work organizations and individuals do in developing, supporting and promoting meaningful high-quality afterschool/out-of-school time programs to benefit children, youth and families across Pennsylvania. Since 2009, over fifty libraries and hundreds of teens have participated in the program throughout the state. To learn more about TRL, visit PHC’s website.

–submitted by Jen Danifo, Program Officer,
Pennsylvania Humanities Council