Services for


Literacy continues to be an area of development for teens, but many young adults have an emerging need for self-expression, and still others are learning to channel their social skills in ways that contribute to the community. The Library’s numerous TeenZones provide young people with places to learn, refine their skills, and link up with one another. Through a variety of collaborations with educational institutions and youth organizations, the Library is reaching a greater number of young people than ever before.

The Summer Passport Program continued to be a signature event, attracting hundreds of teens to the Library and introducing eye-opening experiences to the lazy days of summer. Following the lure of coveted prizes (such as iPads), teens were enticed to visit cultural attractions throughout the Bay Area, getting their “passports” stamped after visiting museums and historical sites that are accessible by public transit.

The César E. Chávez Branch began a “book buddies” program to get teens reading to younger children, thereby developing mentorship skills while also setting a positive example for the little ones. Chávez teens also formed a new Teen Advisory Board, which met for the first time in September 2012 to discuss ways the Library can go further in serving the needs of young adult patrons. At the Eastmont Branch, tweens were recruited to serve as uniformed ambassadors who greet patrons and offer help with computers.

In September 2012, the Main Library TeenZone welcomed Andreana Clay, author of The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back, a constructive take on how young people can address cultural biases and inequalities through creative expression and activism. She was joined by a panel of youth activists, artist Melanie Cervantes, and interested teen patrons for what turned out to be a heady discussion.


KALW FM 91.7 covered Ariela’s story, listen online

In October 2012, Stephanie Yun was crowned Oakland’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate after winning a competition co-sponsored by the Library and Youth Speaks. Stephanie, a recent Skyline High School graduate, was crowned by Mayor Jean Quan and Library Director Carmen Martínez at the Life is Living Festival. She received a $5,000 scholarship and then had a busy year giving public readings at outreach events. In April, the contest to determine Stephanie’s successor began, with eight gifted teens emerging as finalists. The city’s second Youth Poet Laureate was named in August 2013 — this time, Obasi Davis took the prize.

The Ready, Set, Connect! program, made possible through a partnership with Community Technology Network, provided young people with technology-based job skills. It began in March with classroom training, but quickly progressed to more hands-on experience. In the Library’s numerous computer labs, the newly trained students helped patrons use computers, send emails, and navigate the Internet. The program complemented the Library’s mission to help “close the digital divide” by making computers accessible to all.

At the 81st Avenue Branch, a Bay Area Library and Information System (BALIS) grant and a partnership with Youth UpRising helped pave the way for some very constructive and popular workshops during 2012–13. Teens were given valuable multimedia training, including film editing, photography, desktop publishing, web design, and other means of communication for the digital age.

Also at the Life is Living Festival, Library Teen Services sponsored an event with award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia, who read from her book, One Crazy Summer, about three sisters who spent a summer in West Oakland during the late 1960s.

From January to March, Youth Speaks offered afterschool writing workshops at the César E. Chávez Branch. Called “Encuentros,” the bilingual program was tailored for kids from Latina/o, migrant, and undocumented families, with an emphasis on writing about their personal experiences.


Youth Poet Laureate
Obasi Davis