The Detroit Public Library’s HYPE Teen Center opened in 2008, as a place for young adults to have their own space within our main library. HYPE stands for “Helping Young People Excel,” and was submitted by one of our library teens in a naming contest for the center.
Each day, teens come streaming in after school, or all day during the summer, to gather with their friends. A number of them travel from across the city to be with friends they’ve made here at the library. Some teens have said to me that they don’t have many friends at school, but have really found a connection with their peers at HYPE. In this way, the library offers a wonderful space for teens to grow, where they otherwise might not be able to. As Eli Neiburger of the Ann Arbor District Library once said (paraphrasing), teens who maybe aren’t the most popular or most athletic in their school, can come to the library and become superstars. Our staff works hard to make the center a place where young people feel comfortable and accepted.
Crafting has become one of the most popular activities at HYPE. We’ve formed a valued partnership with Handmade Detroit, to put on crafting programs such as “Make Your Own Monster Pillow.” When this craft began, lead by Stephanie Tardy and Lish Dorset, a few girls and one boy came over to participate. The other boys in HYPE said “Sewing? We don’t do sewing,” and walked away. As the Monster Pillows started taking shape, and the rest of teens saw the creativity and fun involved, more started coming over. One by one, teens asked me if we had enough materials for them to join in. By the end of the craft, the boys who’d claimed sewing wasn’t their thing had created amazing works of art. Currently we — HYPE and Handmade Detroit — are planning our next program: “Articulated Paper Craft Robots.”
Our teens also regularly work on anime (cosplay) costumes, in anticipation of the annual Youmacon Anime Convention. Both our girls and boys are always eager to create colorful and detailed costumes of their favorite anime characters. It warms this heart to see young adults trying out something new, succeeding, and feeling good about themselves as a result.
The HYPE Teen Center staff is pleased to be bringing a group of young people to exhibit their crafting skills at the Maker Faire Detroit 2010. For more information about the HYPE Teen Center, go to http://www.dplhype.org.
Bio: Steve Teeri is a Library and Information Science graduate student at Wayne State University. He has worked at the HYPE Teen Center for the past two years, since its inception. Steve can be found on Twitter @telephase.