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Library to enhance web site's teen area

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In an effort to attract and engage more teen readers, the Clayton County Library System is planning to renovate its web site to include more interactive areas and resources for young adults. Until the end of January, the library system is soliciting input from local teens in order to shape the final product.

The library system's teen survey is available online at www.claytonpl.org/teen, and at all six library branch locations until Jan. 31. The survey features questions on what kinds of information teens want to access on the new web site, and seeks participation in a "Teen Brainstorming Session" on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m.

Virtual Services Librarian Terran McCanna was hired by the library system two months ago to manage the library's web site and online databases. She said the library has a wealth of information for young people in the "Teen Zone" area of its web site, but would like to make that information more "inviting and attractive."

"The existing page is just a page with some links, but it hasn't really changed much in the last couple of years," McCanna said. "We have a lot of resources, but the teens don't necessarily know about them. We're trying to give them a forum that is dedicated to them, where they can get more resources relevant to them and they can feel like they are participating more in the library."

McCanna said initial discussions about teen-oriented offerings on the library system's web site include blogs; book reviews by other teens; resources for school, college, and career preparation; and interactive areas where teens can post art work, poetry, short stories and videos.

"There aren't a lot of venues where they can express themselves and get an audience," McCanna said. "We always like to encourage creativity. A lot of people might not necessarily listen to books we recommend, but they will listen to what other teens recommend."

McCanna said that based on the interest, the library may create a "Teen Advisory Board" to help guide the teen content of the web site going forward.

Janice Arcuria, assistant library director for youth services, said that for years, the library system has been looking for ways to shake the "cobwebs" from its present teen web site. She said the library has recently expanded its offerings to teens and that the new web site may serve as a way to attract new readers by leveraging new technology.

"We used to lose a lot of our readers in middle school," Arcuria said. "With the interest in Manga (Japanese comic books) and stories on vampires and werewolves, it's bringing a lot of teens back to the libraries. For teens, if you don't grab their attention right away, they might not give you a second chance. By making the web site interesting and interactive, it will keep them coming back."

McCanna said that over the next year, the library will begin the process of revamping its entire web site. She said changes to the "Teen Zone" will serve as "a testing ground for a lot of different ideas" about the web site.

"The web site, right now, hasn't really been overhauled in several years," McCanna said. "We feel like we can do a lot more with it."

The Feb. 17 Teen Brainstorming Session will feature free food and refreshments for participating teens. For more information, e-mail McCanna at terran@claytonpl.org.