New Central Library teen center gets money and moniker

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February 28, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

Minneapolis students helped design space and programs

Downtown's New Central Library teen space has received a $1 million donation - and a new name - from the Emma B. Howe Memorial Foundation. Christened Emma B. Howe Teen Central, the nearly 2,000-square-foot space will offer a dedicated area separate from the main library for 12- to 18-year-olds to read, study, talk and learn. Resources will include teen-oriented books, videos, magazines, CDs and DVDs, up to 15 computers, and afterschool tutoring services and programs such as film series and open-mic readings.

Architects and librarians worked with Minneapolis Public Schools Middle Level Student Government teens on the area's design, furnishings, activities and materials.

"Funky lounge-type" chairs, couches, music listening zones, vending machines and a "serpentine" wall bookshelf will give the space a "teen-specific feel" unique from the main library, according to a Minneapolis Public Library press release.

The teen center will include a casual "conversation area" and a "Teen Meeting Zone" (TMZ) where groups can meet to work on projects.

New Central Library staff hopes to help teens become "information savvy," said Maureen Hartman in the press release. Hartman is the library's community partnerships coordinator for youth and family initiatives.

"We want to go beyond the 'lending library' model to become a true educational center," said Hartman.

Hartman said that although many teens are "adept with technology," they are sometimes "unsophisticated" at interpreting information.

The Minneapolis Public Library and Minneapolis Public Schools worked together to develop a series of web-based tutorials to teach teens "information literacy," such as how to distinguish between substantiated facts and personal opinions.

Part of the second-floor teen center will jut out over the sidewalk near the new library's Hennepin Avenue entrance, according to the press release.

The center's namesake, Emma B. Howe, rose through the ranks at Deluxe Check Printers during the last century to become the largest individual shareholder of the local Fortune 500 company. In accordance with her will, the stock was used to create the now-$45-million Emma B. Howe Memorial Fund, which has given $36 million to more than 400 Minnesota organizations.