Getting teenagers into the library is a constant challenge for Lakewood Branch librarian Betty Brown. But a new federally funded project known as the Teen Wise Center could make a difference.

The project, conceived to offer an alternative to kids who might otherwise join gangs, is a pilot program with the first sites including the Lakewood and Highland Hills Branch libraries.

“We are trying to provide something that might be of interest to kids who might be considering joining a gang because they have nothing else,” Brown says.

While Brown realizes the difficulty of getting teenagers to use the library, she believes the addition of two new computers loaded with educational and vocational software will be the center’s selling point.

“Computers are something kids have a natural interest in,” Brown says.

“If we didn’t have the computers, I don’t think we’d have the teen center.”

If the center takes off, there is a potential for long lines of eager kids waiting to use a computer, a problem Brown already anticipates.

“Those computers will be busy during the school year,” Brown says. “And I expect there will be kids here on Saturday.

“We are seriously considering (limiting access time) especially during peak times. At some point, we’ll have to limit people to 30 minutes.”

And what about the Internet?

Brown is trying to get at least one computer connected to cyberspace as quickly as possible. Four other library computers already provide public Internet access, but Brown says the teen center computers will have to be connected to a different server.

Brown plans to use $1,500 raised by the Lakewood Library Friends and El Chico to fund Internet access.

“That (the Internet) is going to be a major source of information,” Brown says.

“To me, it seems obvious: To get good information, you’ll have to go through the computer.”

In addition to the computers, the teen center also will feature a comprehensive paperback and video selection.

“(The teen center) is an ideal new project that doesn’t take lots of time away from serving our other patrons,” Brown says.

“And it is appealing enough that we can show a response.”


Enchanted Forest Activities: At the Enchanted Forest Books For Children, 6333 E. Mockingbird, Suite 231, Michael Hayne, illustrator of nearly 20 classic books, will present and sign books Sept. 3 from 10-11:15 a.m. Lilly, the famous character of Kevin Henke’s “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” will be on hand Sept. 13 for free puppet shows and readings at 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and noon. There will be a workshop for librarians, parents and teachers with Gerald McDermott, the Caldecott winning artist, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. Reservations are required. Cost is $5. McDermott will be back on the 22nd for a free presentation and signing from 10-11:15 a.m. T.A. Barron, author of books about Merlin and King Arthur, rounds out the month’s activities with a free presentation and signing Sept. 26 from 10-11 a.m. For information, call 214-827-2234.

Skillman Southwestern Branch Library: The Skillman Southwestern Branch Library, 5707 Skillman at Southwestern, offers “Toddler Time” every Tuesday at 10 a.m. Youngsters 18-36 months and their parent/caregiver read stories, sing songs and make rhymes. Children ages 3-6 participate in “Preschool Story Fun,” a program similar to “Toddler Time,” Tuesdays at 10:40 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Groups are welcome. “Pajama Story Fun” takes place Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. for kids ages two and older. Wear your favorite pajamas and bring your favorite stuffed animal for an evening of storytelling fun. Grade-schoolers enrolled in the first grade and higher can join the “Kids Fun Club,” which meets monthly for a different program. Membership cards are available at the information desk beginning Sept. 8. If a child attends five club meetings, he or she will be invited to a special Kids Fun Club Party in May. The first program will be Sept. 27 at 2:30 p.m., and will focus on paper airplane construction. For information on these activities, call 214-670-6078.

Dallas Theater Center: The Dallas Theater Center announces its Fall Youth Theater Classes for children 4-19. Classes meet once a week on Mondays, Tuesdays or Saturdays. Classes begin the week of Sept. 15 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek. Space is limited. For information, call 214-526-8210, ext. 253.