Jones Public Library in Dayton opens new Teen Room

Students with Dayton ISD video game club were the first to try out the new Teen Room inside Jones Public Library in Dayton on Thursday. Dayton City Manager Theo Melancon (standing at left) visited the library to see how students were enjoying the room.

By Vanesa Brashier,

The City of Dayton officially opened its new Teen Room at Jones Public Library on Thursday, May 23, and students in the Dayton High School video game club were the first to try out the new space.

The Teen Room is located at the entry to Jones Public Library inside the Dayton Community Center, 801 S. Cleveland St. The room was previously used by Friends of the Library. Two glass doors separate the noise of the Teen Room from the rest of the library.

The teen section of the library also has been moved to the front to make it easier for teens visiting the rooms to browse books as they come and go.

“Our goal is to introduce the library back to our teens. We’ve seen the number of teens participating in library events decline over the years,” said the city’s Planning Director Kim Judge. “We know a lot of teens like to play video games, so we have created a space with two game systems. While they are here for games, maybe they will also check out a book.”

The Teen Room is for children 12 and older. Games are downloaded to Nintendo and Xbox consoles and are rated “E for Everyone,” so parents do not have to worry that their children will be exposed to graphic violence or sexual content.

“We installed all the firewalls and protections available to ensure their safety,” said City Manager Theo Melancon. “Our set-up allows you to literally connect to the game servers and play.”

The city provided the game systems, televisions and furniture for the Teen Room through its general fund. The idea for the Teen Room is not unique – other Texas libraries have similar offerings – but it is the first of its kind in Liberty County.

“A library is a cultural resource center for the community. As society changes, we have to adapt to bring in people of all ages. That’s the point of the Teen Room. We thought this would be a great way to reach a demographic we lost – our teenagers,” Melancon said. “There are books available both inside and outside the Teen Room. There are teen fiction and teen movie adaptions. Over time, if they pick up a book and read it, we win.”

Librarian Sherry Sikes said she was happy to see the Teen Room open.

“It’s awesome to see this many teens in the library at one time,” she said.

As with any library resource, there are rules for the Teen Room. Children must be 12 and older, and need a valid library card, which is free to residents in Dayton. Library cards for residents outside the city are $10 for individuals and $12 for families.

The library is not a babysitting service, so while it is okay to drop off teens for a couple of hours, parents are responsible for their children while they are at the library.

The library’s new extended hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The library is closed on Sunday.

The library offers a free summer reading program that will be kicking off soon. For more information about the Teen Room, summer reading or any of the other fun events hosted by the library, call 936-258-7060.

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