Early in December, Leaside Library’s community room was set up for a group scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. As the participants, aged 13 to 17, arrived and took their seats, they warmly greeted each other and were welcomed by Floro Rabadon, Leaside Library’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG) facilitator.
Floro started his library career a few years ago as a library assistant in another Toronto Public Library branch and applied for a similar job at Leaside Library early this year. During his interview, he was surprised by the question, “Have you ever considered facilitating a youth group?” Unaware that he’d be asked such a question and having no experience with youth programs yet really appreciating Leaside Library’s welcoming environment, he answered, “Yes!” and got the job.
“I began promoting the program last summer for a fall start,” he says. “It was a slow start yet by early September, 26 youths had signed up and we have a dozen or so attending each meeting.”
As he explains, “YAG members are library volunteers who earn community service hours and gain skills by designing teen programs and providing input on teen collections at Leaside Library. It’s a way for teens to help out their community and make new friends. The group meets the first and third Wednesday of the month at the library, 165 McRae Drive, and new members are welcome year-round.”
At the December 5th meeting, Floro reviewed the agenda and invited input and discussion on each item, including ideas for new book displays in the library, a recent library survey youth were invited to complete, and their year-end party.
After a lively discussion of the agenda items, he announced, “I’ve brought supplies and instructions for a Christmas craft,” which had the students working together feverishly and sharing success tips as they crafted their jumbo paper snowflakes, which are now gracing the library.
The young curators offered enthusiastic comments on why they value attending the Leaside Youth Advisory Group: “the group is very diverse, inclusive and kind”; everyone is welcomed and encouraged to comment”; “it’s a fun, fast way to get community service hours”; “we do interesting activities like 3D designing on a computer”; “we help the library by making book suggestions and getting people to appreciate that books are important”; “it’s a great place to meet others who are as passionate about reading as I am”; “I read a lot and I really like the good recommendations and discussions we have about different books”; “I go to school in Leaside and enjoy coming to this library a few times a month” and “it’s fun planning and creating themed book displays in the Teen Zone of the library.”
As the meeting drew to a close, Floro surprised them when he announced, “you each get to choose a book from the titles on the book cart as a gift.” The participants rushed to the book cart and enthusiastically discussed the relative merits of the books and their selections, then said their goodbyes and headed out the door at 6 p.m. sharp.
Youth Advisory Group application forms are available at the library. For more information, call 416-396-3835 or visit https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/support-us/volunteering/yags/.