Teens Takeover Destin Library (PHOTOS)

Jennie McKeon

It wasn't a typical scene at the Destin Library last Thursday evening — about a dozen teenagers were eating pizza, throwing spitballs and even playing with whoopee cushions.

It was all part of the Teen Takeover, which was in celebration of the new corner designated for teens. Along with two new study rooms, the space dubbed Teen Topia is designed to give teenaged students a quiet place to study, read or get homework done.

"I've been here for six years and this is something I really wanted to see happen," said Tina Kaple, administrative assistant at the library.

The city of Destin Youth Council helped execute the changes, which were about a year in the making. Students not only helped choose the decor of the teen space, which is steam punk, but helped move 4,000  books to make space for the new study rooms.

"The Destin Youth Council is excited to be a part of this project," said youth council chair Hannah Gord.

Gord, who admits she doesn't go to the library as much as she'd like, said she plans to visit more often now with the new space.

"It will be nice to do my homework without the distractions from brothers, sisters and parents," she said. "It's a great space for students to study together."

Destin Library Director Jurate Burns credits the youth council and young volunteers for making the plans come to fruition.

"These old bones couldn't do it," she joked.

After a ribbon cutting ceremony, it was time for the fun. Teens parted into two groups for a few rounds of Silent Library, in which participants must endure tasks such as eating baby food, have spitballs directed at your face or even sit on a whoopie cushion so many times without laughing.

The new space, as well as the Teen Takeover itself, was geared to introduce libraries to a generation that has probably never utilized them before.

"The future is depending upon this generation and getting them engaged," explained Will Rogers, youth services librarian.

One of the study rooms will hopefully become a fully-equipped media room. To further engage students, a large notepad was left in the room letting students jot down suggestions for equipment they would like to see come to the library.

Burns said most of the teenagers who visit the library come to use the printer. Getting the chance to expand services and create a meeting space for teens is very gratifying, she said.

"We have a lot to offer, including free ACT and SAT prep programs," she said. "They just have to come and find it."