Cutting a red ribbon tied across the staircase, Kyle Fichtner, Riverhead Free Library’s young adult coordinator and head of teen services, signaled for 20 or so teenagers waiting patiently below to enter the teen loft.
Over the past month, the library’s loft has been under construction and was unveiled for the first time last Wednesday afternoon. Teens rushed up the stairs to enjoy some pizza, but also to marvel at their refurbished hangout spot.
“This created a brand-new space for these guys,” Mr. Fichtner said. “They deserve it because they come in every day. Sometimes this is just their home; they don’t have anywhere else to go. It’s their space, that they love and where they hang out.”
The renovations included moving a wall to expand the space, purchasing a television for playing video games, repainting, installing new floors, and reconfiguring the space by placing the computers along the back wall and the tables in the center of the room, library director Kerrie McMullen-Smith said.
The two longest walls of the room are lined floor to ceiling with books and the opposing walls are painted an electric blue. One wall, closest to the stairs up to the loft, is lined with desktop computers. Across the way is the gaming television, which will soon feature an Xbox One or similar device, and more books.
The center of the room contains Mr. Fichtner’s desk, as well as numerous wooden desks and chairs where people can do group work or, as occurred last Wednesday, socialize and enjoy pizza.
“I like how the computers are set up,” Gage Lewis, 15, of Riverhead said. “The original tables were over there and you couldn’t see many people. Now you can see all the stuff that is happening … It’s a place you get to hang out at a lot, talk about certain stuff that happens and have a good time.”
The upgrade was made possible by an $11,000 construction grant from the New York State Education Department. Remaining funds from the grant will go toward renovations in the DVD room, which is located in a different area of the library, Ms. McMullen-Smith said.
“It’s somewhere to come hang with your friends,” said 14-year-old Derek Spattery of Calverton. “It’s a home away from home for a little bit.”
Photo caption: Riverhead Free Library’s teen loft, which had been under construction over the past month, was unveiled for the first time last Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Nicole Smith)