Library Gets Teen Spirit

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Newport Beach Public Library is dedicated to making the library not only a place teens “have” to go to study or find resources for a school project, but a place teens want to go.

At the Central Library, there is a dedicated Teen Room that not only boasts a large collection of young adult books, but also some of the best ocean views in Newport Beach. The Teen Center is a cool place to be, thanks in large part to the efforts of Library Assistant–Young Adult Services Mara Cota.

The Teen Center houses fiction and paperback collections, graphic novels, new YA (young adult) books, Teen Center CDs, magazines, a number of study tables and a lounging seating area. During certain times of the day the room is reserved for students in 7th-12th grade and anyone working with them.

“Because of its size,” Mara explains, “the Central Library is where we have most of our teen programs.”

This is where the Young Adult Advisory Council (YAAC) meets every second Wednesday of the month during the school-year. Teen members of the council discuss library programs, plan events, swap book and movie recommendations, socialize, and even play the occasional game of Jeopardy.

The YAAC also helps to plan and execute programs like the Teen Summer Reading Program for Children. They will pick the theme, consult on prizes, and prep materials for the program. Teens also volunteer their time in the Children’s Room to help implement the Children’s summer reading program, preparing crafts for story times and special events or creating displays and bulletin boards.

Recently, the YAAC created the Great Paperback Give-Away. With a generous donation from the Friends of the Library, teens purchased new books, arranged school visits and donated the books.

“It’s extremely enjoyable for me to watch teenagers crowd excitedly around a table of books and gleefully decimate the pile of paperbacks”, said Cota.

Cota’s passion is contagious.

“Anyone who comes into the Teen Center at the Central Library when I’m working and asks for a book recommendation is bound to get more than they bargained for, as once I get started picking out titles it’s hard to stop (it’s a lot like asking to try on a pair of shoes at Nordstrom—the sales associate doesn’t just bring one). But I hope that’s a good thing.”

A huge effort has also been made to reach teens online. The Newport Beach Library teens  have their own Teens Facebook Page – On the library website there is a special teens page – – which includes book recommendations and a blog, in addition to different links.   Teens are also encouraged to participate in the library’s podcast series, “Overdue.”

Jasmine O’Hea, a junior at Crean Lutheran High School has been a member of the Young Adults Advisory Council for the last two years.

“I like getting to work behind the scenes and coming up with fun ideas for the library.  The library is an amazing resource.”

When asked what she wants other teens to know about the library, O’Hea said, “The library is a great place to study because it’s quiet and easier to focus there. The Teen Summer Reading Program is great because you get prizes for reading books of your choice”

Masha Lepire, s senior at the Orange County High School of the Arts, has been a volunteer at the library for six years. She is also a member of the Young Adult Advisory Council and helps out with children’s events including the summer reading program.

Leprie says in addition to the  “vast amount of resources the library has including all of the reference books and all of the new books that the library frequently receives”, she also loves the  friendly atmosphere and events the library puts on for the community including concerts and guest authors.

“I love giving back to the community and supporting the library so everyone can have the same wonderful experiences it has provided me.”

For more information about teen programs and volunteering contact the Children’s Department at 949-717-3830 or visit Those interested must be at least 12 years old and in seventh grade and no older than 17.


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