Giving Compass' Take:

· Writing for Shareable, Casey O'Brien reports that San Francisco's public libraries are embracing their role as a free public space to provide a safe environment for the youth community to learn and have fun in. 

· What other locations can be used to provide a fun and safe space for youths to hang out in? Why are these types of spaces so important? How do these free public spaces bring the community together?

· Check out this article to see how people are coming together to create community spaces

In one corner, a gaggle of teens huddles over laptops. Across the room, another group plays board games. Behind the closed door of a music studio, two boys record on a guitar and keyboard, while another plays video games on a massive projector. There’s a maker space and study nooks, and the whiteboard on the wall advertises activities like a book club and creative writing group. The space is loud, full of kids eating and talking. This is “The Mix,” the teen space in the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL). The boisterous teen zone is very different than a traditional library, but the SFPL is anything but ordinary.

“The Mix,” now in its fifth year, is a nearly 5,000-foot section of the main library designed by its target audience: youth. Program manager Cathy Cormier explained the space’s history while simultaneously filling requests and fielding patrons’ questions. “The Mix” was created using grant funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. A team of teenagers worked with an architect to design the space. Cormier laughed as she pointed to the small staff offices in the corner. “They said, ‘You have too much space for staff. It should be a youth space.’ So of course, that’s what we did,” she said, referring to the choice to shrink the square footage allotted to staff.

The programs at “The Mix” are all free and open to drop-ins, and they’re mostly fairly informal — on purpose. “We use what we call HOMAGO — a mix of hanging out, messing around and geeking out,” said Cormier. “Because the youth will engage on a higher level eventually, but they have to get comfortable. And for some of them, their lives are really high pressure, so they appreciate that this is a chill space.”

Read the full article about San Francisco's public libraries by Casey O'Brien at Shareable.