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California City Solutions: Cerritos Library Carves out High-Tech Space for Teen Students

November 20, 2015
This story is part of an ongoing series featuring Helen Putnam Award entries.
 
Cerritos-Teen-Library-apple-computers-in-use.jpgThe 2015 entries are available on the League’s website as a resource for cities in a searchable database called California City Solutions. The city of Cerritos’ Library Teen Studio was submitted in 2015 for the Community Services and Economic Development award category.
 
Due to a strong demand for library services, the city of Cerritos faced the challenge of how to provide teenage students with access to computers and study areas in the Cerritos Library. The solution was to remodel an area within the library into a Teen Studio where teens can access high-tech equipment and participate in activities that encourage educational, creative and personal development. Completed in 2013, local teens contributed design suggestions and the project was made possible through the support of the business community, Friends of the Cerritos Library and teen volunteers. The Teen Studio provides teens with access to computers and study areas.
 
Cerritos-Teen-Library-centers.jpgThe Cerritos Library opened in October 1973. The original library was an 18,000-square-foot building with a collection of 45,000 books. The facility also provided the latest technology, including 16-mm films and projectors, record players with headphones and coin-operated electric typewriters.
 
As the city’s population of families with school-age children grew, library use increased significantly. To meet the community’s growing demand for library materials, space and resources, the city expanded the Cerritos Library in 1987. The remodeled library featured two microcomputer rooms which were devoted to the computer literacy concept at the time.
 
Cerritos-Teen-Library-apple-computers.jpgWith the library open seven days a week and serving students from throughout the seven-city ABC Unified School District, the demand for library services continued to grow. City leaders recognized a need to further expand. The third phase of the Cerritos Library was completed in March 2002. The larger 88,000 square foot space houses 300,000 books, museum-quality exhibits and artwork, and 200 computers for the public’s use.
 
At that time, the computers were located in the Children’s Library in an area themed 21st Century, and offered high-speed Internet access, the Microsoft Office suite of programs, and online subscription research databases. Rooms were also available for students to work on group projects.
 
Cerritos-Teen-Library-study-chairs.jpgAs more students used the library’s services, the computer stations and study areas became increasingly crowded. City leaders decided that the library needed to create a special niche for teens with access to the latest technology, individual and group study areas and college preparation programs.
 
Library staff cleared a 2,500-square-foot space. The Cerritos City Council asked staff to invite local teens to participate in meetings to help design and develop the new space. The teens provided valuable insights on preferred furnishings, the floorplan, study areas and technological equipment. The Cerritos Library Teen Studio opened in September 2013.
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The Teen Studio is a multi-purpose space with seating for up to 66 people, where teens can participate in activities that encourage their educational, creative and personal development. It offers access to state-of-the-art technology, group and individual study areas and the library’s young adult collection of approximately 7,000 items. A staff member is always available.Cerritos-Teen-Library-large-wall-touch-screen.jpg
 
High-tech equipment includes 18 Apple computers, one 40-inch computer surface table, three 65-inch interactive wall-mounted smart displays, two 32-inch e-posters, Wi-Fi access and a multi-function printing device.Cerritos-Teen-Library-apple-computers-students.jpg Internet connectivity is also available for personal laptop and notebook connections through data ports offered at tables throughout the Teen Studio. The computer surface table makes it possible for teens to share and collaborate together using a large, thin display that recognizes fingers, hands and other objects placed on the screen. The innovative displays combine the touch capabilities of an interactive whiteboard with the crisp visuals of flat-panel display technology to elevate collaborative computing and learning. The e-posters feature artwork created by teens and highlight information about upcoming programs.
 
By using existing space within the library, the city was able to successfully complete the project while carefully covering its costs. The city’s total investment in the construction of the studio was $290,141. Funding for the majority of the construction cost was allocated from a reimbursement of maintenance and servicing funds the city received from Los Angeles County as part of the Safe Neighborhood Parks Propositions of 1992 and 1996.
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The Teen Studio’s dedication event was a collaborative effort between the city and Cerritos Library teen volunteers, known as Volunteens. The Volunteens distributed information and dedication buttons and helped visitors use the new high-tech equipment. They also participated in the Teen Studio ribbon cutting and plaque unveiling event with the Cerritos City Council.
 
Within one year of the dedication, an estimated 25,882 teens had visited the new teen space on a drop-in basis. The Teen Studio successfully met the challenges of providing teens with adequate access to computers to complete their homework and the necessary space to study individually or in groups.


 
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