East Lansing Public Library welcomes back students in grades 6-12 for its Teen Time program, which was held virtually during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has recently transitioned back to in-person.
The program is held Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 5 p.m.
Janis Salomon, teen services librarian, says 75 to 100 students take part in the Teen Time program after school every day.
“They are back in the library after not being here for a year and a half. The high school is right around the corner from the library and a lot of students will come here while they’re waiting for a ride, waiting for their practices to start … so, yeah, it’s convenient.”
The Teen Time program does not check vaccination status, but requires masks. The staff and volunteers have implemented social distancing rules to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The library works with Michigan State University to recruit college students to run the program.
Sydney Lauer is a first-year MSU student and volunteers at Teen Time to stay involved with the community. Lauer wishes she had a program like this in her hometown Rowley, Mass. while she was in high school.
“It’s a good place for people to figure out who they are and open up.”
Lauer says that over the course of her time volunteering she has seen teens break out of their shell and become more social with their peers.
People of all ages have suffered from post-pandemic social anxiety, and Teen Time is a place for students to break that barrier and acclimate to social settings.
Karla Flores is a Spanish major who hopes to have a career in education. Volunteering is a way to work hands-on with teens and prepare her for the future.