HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — A new program called Emerge is focused on giving young adults ages 18 to 25 a safe space at the Washington County Free Library.
The idea for the new program came about when teens realized they could no longer be in the young adult department of the library once they turned 19 but were not quite ready to go to the adult section of the library.
“They were saying Miss Stephanie they don’t really have anything for us to do. We don’t have community, we need a space to feel like we’re bonding and feel safe,” said Steph Wiant, a librarian in the Young Adult department of the library. “We found this was a need in the community. We’re really looking forward to building programming.”
Wiant says she wants to continue to have a safe space for this age group to not only pick a book and bond with friends, but she wants it to become a resource center to help them navigate life.
“We need to build that gap bridge that gap for them so they can feel like they’re connected to the next chapter in their life by building these connections with them one on one, having these private conversations like hey, this is what’s going on in my life and well guess what did you know a book can change your life?” she said.
“If they don’t feel like they have a safe space in order to feel connected and community. They’re not going to care about what’s in the book and our goal is to get them to that point where they can enjoy the story of a book that they can feel less alone just by opening a book. But we got to take care of the basic needs first and community of connection,” said Wiant.
The blueprint for the program involves the teens just expressing their thoughts, and emotions in meetings, or just sitting down and reading a book. They later hope to have a game room and computer room just for that age group.
“They want consistency. They want to know that every time I’m going to come, I’m gonna talk to the staff or I’m gonna hang out with my people. We’re just gonna get to know each other so you can build community. If they don’t have a place to connect then they’re not going to grow,” she said.
Their first meeting is Thursday, April 21st from 5-6 p.m. at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown. They will also continue to host meetings every Monday in room 334 from 1 p.m to 5 p.m.