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    Teens create a library room of their own

    Hoping to draw more young people to the teen room at Palm Harbor Library, youths paint colorful murals based on film and comic book figures.

    [Times photo: Jim Damaske]
    Members of the Palm Harbor Library Youth Advisory Board paint murals Wednesday in the library's teen room that are based on familiar comic book figures. The artists, from left: Anthony DeLellis, Jeff Nitzberg and Henry Zebrowski.

    By KAREN LACHENAUER

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 22, 2001


    For information

    To learn more about the Palm Harbor Library Youth Advisory Board, call Mitzi Streeter at (727) 784-3332, ext. 213 or e-mail her at mitzistr@aol.com. To register for murder mystery night, call Lois Eannel at (727) 784-3332, ext. 206.

    PALM HARBOR -- Palm Harbor Library patrons might be rubbing their eyes from something other than print fatigue as the teenagers on the Youth Advisory Board unveil changes to their teen room.

    The group's members are spending the week painting the room in vivid comic book colors and with familiar comic book figures. When finished, the room will include characters from current movies as well as the bodies of figures such as Superman, Cat Woman and the Hulk. The teens had talked of putting their own faces on the paintings, but library director Gene Coppola discouraged the idea.

    "We don't want to create a Mount Rushmore in there," he said.

    What Coppola does want is to give teenagers more reason to come to the library. Since being created last summer, the Youth Advisory Board has grown from seven or eight middle and high school students to as many as 16. It meets every other Saturday at 2 p.m. The next meeting is June 30.

    Getting teens into the library is one of Coppola's main goals. Teens sometimes get left behind, said youth board coordinator and librarian Mitzi Streeter.

    "We have so much with reading services for toddlers up until about the sixth, seventh grade," Streeter said. "Then it picks up again with adult services."

    The library has applied for a $20,000 state grant to help furnish the teen room and hire a part-time teen librarian. The library expects to hear about the grant in a month or so.

    If the money comes through, Coppola said, "then all this generic, traditional furniture is out the door." Teens will have the chance to pick out the room's furnishings. They've discussed perhaps getting a velvet couch or one covered in plastic, like something out of That '70s Show.

    The teens held a comedy night in January, raising enough to pay for painting the teen room. In May, they held a teen town hall, where a dozen people, including school administrators, County Commissioner Susan Latvala and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Palm Harbor recreation program and the YMCA answered two hours' worth of questions, mostly on school issues.

    This summer, members of the youth board will conduct a series of Friday afternoon programs for kids 7 to 12.

    "I'm running four different creativity classes for little kids," said Henry Zebrowski, 17, who will be a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School in the fall. "It's just about promoting kids using their brains."

    This summer's programs include a board and card game day on June 29, a drawing-to-music program on July 6, a cartooning program July 13, a cowboy collage July 20 and program called "break out the puppets" on July 27.

    A planned murder mystery night will be geared more for middle school students, said Lois Eannel, the library's head of youth services. Scheduled for Aug. 3, sleuths age 10 to 15 will question library staff members and sift through clues about a fictitious murder set in the library.

    There is a catch: Participants must have read three murder mysteries to be eligible. They can either complete a book log or join a lunch discussion group that meets June 29, July 13 and July 27 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. They must register for the discussion group, and enrollment in the murder mystery night is based on returning the reading logs on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Already two logs have been returned, "so we have some eager beavers," Eannel said.

    -- Staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report.

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