Allen F. Pierce Library in Troy, Pennsylvania, Spring 2016. Photo by Carrie L. Geer.
Pennsylvania Humanities Council to Support 26 Teen Reading Lounge Sites in 2016-17

The Pennsylvania Humanities Council will provide funding, training, and technical support for 2016-17 Teen Reading Lounge programs in 26 libraries across 19 Pennsylvania counties. Among participating libraries, 13 will take part in an ongoing pilot program structured to provide ways for teens to meaningfully contribute to their communities and participate in civically focused activities. The pilot puts special emphasis on reaching youth from low-income backgrounds.

“Teen Reading Lounge gives teenagers the chance to engage in discussions and activities that are important to them—and to build skills that will serve them in school and beyond,” said Laurie Zierer, Pennsylvania Humanities Council executive director. "As we continue to refine this program and gather data on its positive outcomes, we want to ensure that its participants are as diverse as the population of our state."

Pottstown Public Library, Spring 2016.

Teen Reading Lounge is a nontraditional book club tailored by program sites to reflect the culture of their towns or neighborhoods—and the interests and needs of the teens that live there. Local youth aged 12-18 help to create the reading list for their program sites and, working with trained facilitators, to design creative projects that bring the books to life.

More than 600 teenagers and 78 libraries have participated in Teen Reading Lounge since its launch in 2010. Participants report stronger interpersonal, communication, literacy, and critical-thinking skills, and increased confidence.

The Teen Reading Lounge framework was built on the belief that encouragement to choose creative pursuits and interest-focused programs is crucial to teen development. The humanities naturally push teens to ask questions and share ideas—activities that are vital as teens begin to discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to relate to other people. 

Pottstown Public Library, Spring 2016.

In fact preliminary data from 2015-16 Teen Reading Lounge programs showed that participants build important life skills through engaging with the humanities:

  • 84% of participating teens reported that Teen Reading Lounge helped them better recognize and respect the differences and perspectives of others.
  • 72% learned to contribute to a group by sharing experiences, knowledge and ideas; exercise flexibility in a group setting (e.g., work within a team); respond to different ideas and values with an open mind.


In addition, 80% of participants said that they would return to the program.

“With the skills they practice through Teen Reading Lounge, young people are better able to develop confidence in themselves and relationships with one another. This connectedness builds a sense of community,” Zierer said. “In fact the data collected by our program evaluators suggest that participating teens have become more interested in volunteering in their libraries and their towns.”

Through Teen Reading Lounge, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council invests funds to improve achievement outcomes for youth, but it also helps position program sites to make changes in the way they serve youth. The 2016-17 Teen Reading Lounge sites will receive funding to cover program expenses as well as an honorarium to pay a program facilitator. They will also receive training in working with facilitators and local teens to design a program that’s meaningful for their communities.

Sites hosting a 2016-17 Teen Reading Lounge program are listed below by county:


Baden Memorial Library                   

B.F. Jones Memorial Library

Laughlin Memorial Library


Altoona Area Public Library


Allen F. Pierce Free Library


Warminster Township Free Library

Free Library of New Hope and Solebury               


Highland Community Library


Redbank Valley Public Library


Lansdowne Public Library

Radnor Memorial Library


Raymond M. Blasco, MD Memorial Library-Erie County Public Library 


Coyle Free Library


Rebecca M. Arthurs Memorial Library    


Carbondale Public Library            


Ephrata Public Library    


Pittston Memorial Library


Pottstown Regional Public Library            

Huntingdon Valley Library


Priestley Forsyth Memorial Library          


Free Library of Philadelphia - Haverford Branch 

Free Library of Philadelphia - Greater Olney Branch

Free Library of Philadelphia - Philadelphia City Institute


Meyersdale Public Library           


Oil City Library  


Guthrie Memorial Library            

Teen Reading Lounge is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.



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