The folks at the Internet Public Library know what every good public librarian knows: Teens need their own space. Teens are loud and opinionated, and they need to be convinced that hanging out in the library is worth their time. While the volume element isn’t such an issue in the virtual world, the second part (seeming hip and relevant) certainly is. The Internet Public Library (IPL) provides a virtual space for teens — IPL Teenspace that mirrors the atmosphere of the best teen rooms in brick-and-mortar libraries.
IPL Teenspace collects the best resources for teens and makes them easily accessible. Like in a real library, those resources consist a healthy mix of the things teens need in order to succeed academically and things that speak to who they are on a more personal level.
In the first category: Sites offering homework help, support for students writing research papers, and advice for college preparation.
In the second category: A guide to graphic novels and a poetry wiki where teens can contribute their own work. Best of all is a page called “Procrastinator,” which offers links to all sorts of enticing, time-sucking websites that are really and truly hip and fun.
Somewhere in between the two categories — what teens need and what teens want — is a list of websites providing answers to “frequently asked embarrassing questions,” most of them about health, sexuality, relationships, and substance abuse.
And be sure to check out the “Thing of the Week,” where the IPL librarians pose a question and teens post their responses anonymously. You’ll be amazed at how teens open their hearts when someone bothers to ask what they think. And you’ll be even more amazed at how terrible their “best pick-up lines” are. -EMILY JACK