Reading outreach
Library teens help cast-off books find homes

       Anyone who's ever spent time in a laundromat knows how slow time can pass when there's nothing to do except watch the load go round and round.
       OC3, the Old Colorado City Library's Teen Advisory Council, has been providing a solution to that problem this summer. The kids have been taking 50 or so otherwise-unwanted books a week to West Side Cleaners, where they are free to anyone.

While in the background a customer works through her laundry chores, volunteers from OC3 restock free books in a West Side Cleaners bookshelf that's been provided by the owner. They had brought the books in the Old Colorado City Library cart behind them. Shown are (from left) Hayley Messinger, Nate Taylor and Olympia Vida.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “The books have been flying off the shelves,” said Tiffany Paisley, an Old Colorado City Library clerk whose duties include teen liaison efforts. “We can't keep them full.”
       Laundromat owner Kathy Ebbs has seen a positive response from her customers. One nice thing, in some cases, “is that people take them and bring them back,” she said. “I think it's great.”
       The program, which was dreamed up by OC3 members - a dozen or so teens between grades 6 and 12 who like spending time at the library - is open to any merchants who are interested. All the kids ask for is an empty shelf. They have a few other businesses they work with now, but none as book-popular as the laundromat.
       The kids call the program “Red Wagon,” stemming from their vision of delivering the books in a red wagon, Paisley said. For now, at least, they're using a wheeled library cart that has a logo of a kid pulling a red wagon.
       “It's a great experience for them,” she summarized. “They get out to the community, talk to adults and set things up.” She lauded the teens for seeking ways to reach out. “For this generation of teens, that's kind of a big push.”
       OC3 typically meets at the library the fourth Saturday of the month at 3 p.m. There is also a “teen laptop time” every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. New members are welcome.
       As a rule, the Red Wagon books are those donated to the library that the Friends of Old Colorado City Library group has decided are unmarketable at its periodic book sales, Paisley explained.
       “It's a way to help people who can't afford books or who don't have library cards,” commented Zane McLean, an OC3 member who had attended West Middle School and is now a freshman at Palmer High.
       “I wanted to know my community better,” commented Olympia Vida, a ninth-grade homeschooler.
       Nate Taylor, another OC3 member, said he just likes getting out of the house. He's been out a lot, with a total of 200 hours of library volunteer time over the past four years.
       For more information about the program or if you have a business with a shelf to put free books on, call the library at 634-1698.

Westside Pioneer article