Libraries Are Not Just for Books

Monday, January 26, 2009

After classes at Northwood High, students pile into the library. Some come to read, study or research. But a lot of teens are there to eat. The library has its own cafe, so the students can have a snack and catch up with friends. "It's a big plus," said librarian Tim Brennan. These are teenagers: "They are hungry," he said.

"We have an expression in New York," Brennan said, referring to his home town. "If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you are going to get a haircut."

He displays popular titles everywhere, and he'll "book talk" any student who walks in, he said.

On Tuesday afternoons, the library hosts a cyber-cafe. Students can buy food, watch videos and use computers to play video games.

Gaming -- both computer gaming and old-fashioned board gaming -- is an increasingly popular activity at libraries. Librarians want to make the library a place where kids want to go and feel they belong. If they stay long enough, they might get a haircut.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company