WARREN, NJ - On Wednesday, June 25, the Warren Township Library staff unveiled a new wall mural in the teen space on the second floor of the library and hosted a reception for the artists Will Zhang, Rebecca Novik, Carlie Goode, Ryan Shen, Hannah Song, Kimberly Chao, Annika Chan, Shawn Weng, and Alvin Wong.
The idea for transforming the teen space originated during discussions with Warren Teen Advisory Board members over the past 18 months, and from teen responses to a 2012 survey undertaken by the Somerset County Library System (SCLS) as part of its strategic planning process, Warren Library Director Carolyn Della Sala said.
Back in the fall of 2012, Teen Advisory Board Member Will Zhang suggested that a mural painted by teens would enhance the look of the developing teen space at the Warren Township Library. Zhang had seen examples of similar murals at schools and libraries and he approached Warren’s Teen Librarian Linda Tripp with specific ideas about this project. Zhang, now a rising senior at Watchung Hills Regional High School, ended up spearheading this initiative.
The mural was designed and painted by Zhang himself, with the assistance of a team of fellow student artists including Rebecca Novik, Carlie Goode, Ryan Shen, Hannah Song, Kimberly Chao, Annika Chan, Shawn Weng, and Alvin Wong. Art teachers from Watchung Hills facilitated the project by offering their support and providing classroom space for the artists to complete the project. Teen Advisory Board members and other teen patrons assisted with the preparation of the mural boards and other project tasks.
The library is very grateful that this group of dedicated artists shared not only their creativity and talent but also they were very generous with their spare time, as they painted after school, during lunch breaks, and even on weekends. The teen mural project was funded by the Warren Library Advisory Board, and installed by the Warren Township Department of Public Works.
The Warren Township Library is one of four from across the state that benefitted from the expertise of a group of librarians who are called the “SWAT Team of Library Transformers."
“We are very excited to have been selected to participate in this project,” said Warren Library Director Carolyn Della Sala. “This was a competitive program and only four libraries were selected to participate. In winter 2012, Linda Tripp, young adult librarian at the Warren Township Library approached me about creating a mural in the Teen Area. The teens who participate in the Warren Library’s Teen Advisory Board expressed an interest in updating and personalizing the teen area by creating a mural to be designed by one of the teens. A proposal for improvements to the Teen Area was submitted to the Library Advisory Board in February 2013 and the Advisory Board approved the creation of the mural. When the NJ State Library announced the SWAT Team – Round 3 program in March, Linda suggested using her proposal for improvements to the Teen Area as a basis for the application for the SWAT Team program."
“Teens are attracted to spaces which reflect their interests,” she said. “The main goal of the project was to transform what is an area virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the second floor and is home to the majority of the branch adult collections, into an inviting, teen-friendly space that will appeal to current teen patrons, attract new teen patrons, and create a sense of identification and ownership in those teens who gather there."
In addition to the Warren Township Library, the SWAT redesign team worked with the public libraries in Belmar, Oakland and Cedar Grove.The libraries were selected for the program by submitting an application detailing their needs and transformational goals, and had to commit $5,000 to the transformation.
The Warren Township Library, a branch of the Somerset County Library System, is located at 42 Mountain Boulevard, Warren, NJ 07059. For more information, contact Linda Tripp, Young Adult Librarian, at 908-754-5554 extension 24.