Westborough – For those of a “certain age,” the thought of libraries brings up visions of card catalogs, the Dewey Decimal System and elderly women shushing those who dared to do more than whisper.
Suffice to say, today's libraries, at least in Westborough, bear no resemblance to those libraries and staff of old. That is in great part due to the efforts of two women – Maureen Ambrosino, the Westborough Public Library director and Anita Celluci, the school librarian at Westborough High School (WHS).
Ambrosino, who has been with the town's library since July 2010, said the best way to determine how to help teens is to “hear from them directly.”
So she decided to establish a Teen Advisory Board that would also work in conjunction with the town's middle, intermediate and high schools. Meetings are held after school and at the different schools each month so as many kids as possible have the opportunity to attend.
“It's been great,” she said. “The kids have a lot of input into our collections. They also wanted to use a suggestion box – we'se gotten a lot of great suggestions that way.”
The “great” Friends of the Library have also helped the town's teens, she said, by purchasing a movie license. During vacation weeks, the library holds Movie Nights, when teens can go and hang out with friends while watching a current hit. On Feb. 24, 18 kids came to view “The Social Network.”
All of the teens present at the movie night agreed they were thankful they had something fun to do during an otherwise bland vacation week.
Michael Colbert, a junior at WHS said he decided to attend the movie with several friends who are also part of the “MADMAC” group.
“MADMAC is a substance awareness group at the high school,” he explained. ” It means “Make a Difference, Make a Choice.” One of the kids [in the group] is also on the [library] advisory board so we decided to come to this together tonight.”
At WHS, Celluci is also excited about the changes she is working to implement there. Celluci, who until late August 2010 worked for the Mendon Upton Regional School District, is hoping to shift the school's library into more of a multi-media “learning center.”
“I am trying to repurpose the space,” she said, “while acknowledging the 21st-[century] skills of technology that are so important. Hopefully we will have Wi-fi in the future too.”
Although books are and will always be important research tools, she said, there are other ways for kids to access information. On the school's website, the library has a page with links to a number of databases as well as the software Noodle Tools, which helps guide students through the entire research process. Students currently can access a closed blog on the site as well.
Senior Anna Degtyareva is one of the teens who have been involved in the student group working with Celluci.
“She's planning some good things, like adding murals and setting up meeting spaces,” Degtyareva said. “It's been fun.”