SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ –  TAPinto South Plainfield recently spoke with with Jackie Oakes, a librarian in charge of tween programming at the South Plainfield Public Library  

Prior to Oakes’ arrival in South Plainfield two years ago, the library did not offer much programming for tweens (nine to 13 years old). These days, however, various events and activities for this age group are held on a monthly basis wth Oakes dedicated to planning ‘pop culture inspired programming’ that is ‘fun and interesting [and] something that the kids want.’ 

Two popular programs include a Super Smash Brothers game tournament, which had about 80 participants, and a blindfolded Mario Kart game tournament. For Mario Kart, one player was given controller and a blindfold and instructed which way to go in the game by their game partner. 

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“It wasn’t based on whether you were great at the game, it was based on your communication and listening skills,” Oakes said.

Other popular tween programs include a Cupcake Wars inspired cupcake decorating contest, which had about 40 tween participants, and a slime-making event that garnered some 60 attendees, as well as Pokemon Go and Star Wars related programs. Additionally, Oakes runs a variety of monthly programs, including an anime club, TableTop Gaming - where participants learn how to play different tabletop role-playing games, a Coding Dojo, various tween crafts, and tween movie screenings. In October, Oakes is hoping to hold a Harry Potter themed week that with will consist of crafts and movie marathons leading up to the release of the new film. 

“If there is anything popular or mainstream, I will try to plan a program around it,” Oakes said, adding that she gets many of her ideas for programs from Pinterest or from talking and brainstorming with other tween and children’s librarians in other communities. 

Oakes said that what she enjoys most about being the tween librarian in South Plainfield is that she ‘gets to be so creative, plan programs, talk to so many different people, and learn from them.’ 

“What makes the programs offered at South Plainfield Library special is that we offer so many diverse programs from when [attendees] are born... until they are adults. We focus on STEM, early literacy, [and] multicultural programs, [which] bringthe community together in different ways. ...” said Oakes. “Many parents are blown away when they see how many different programs we provide.”  

Throughout the summer months, numerous tween programs will take place at the South Plainfield Public Library. A Minute to Win tournament based off of the television game show will be held on Wednesday, July 11 and a Makey-Makey STEM program will be held Friday, July 13. Additionally, a Snap Circuit STEM program on July 25 and a Digging for Dinos program is scheduled for Friday, July 28.

In addition, registration for the library’s annual Summer Reading Program will open on Monday, June 25 and run through Saturday, Aug. 18; the theme is ‘Libraries Rock.’ Children will receive a booklet to keep track of the titles they read and, this year, in an effort to encourage larger participation, the library will also be running a Summer Reading War. Tweens and teens can also participate in the YA Reading Club for a chance to win prizes. 

For more information on the South Plainfield Public Library and upcoming events, visit www.southplainfield.lib.nj.usor call (908) 754-7885. You can also follow the South Plainfield Public Library on Facebook at

© TAPinto South Plainfield, 2018. This article may be copied or shared online, but may not be reproduced or altered in print or any other media without written permission of TAPinto South Plainfield.

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