Youth Services Librarian, San José Public Library, CA
MLIS, San José State University, 2010
Photo by Adam Padilla
In the Teen Zone
Erik Berman subscribes to a “teen run, teen led” mentality, according to senior librarian Sharon Fung at San José Public Library (SJPL). “He works tirelessly to get to know his teens, build their confidence, and guide them into taking an active role in the library.” Hand in hand with local teens and professional designers, Berman is responsible for the creation of the new teen center, TeenHQ, in San José’s central Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. He recruited teen volunteers from around the city, originally to fill the role of advisors. The teens, who dedicated “a year and a half and over 1,000 hours” to the project, says Berman, evolved into full-fledged designers and builders, even constructing scale models to test their ideas. The resulting space includes a state-of-the art Maker space, recording studio, and print collection.
Berman also facilitates the library system’s teensReach program, teen advisory boards run at several branches. At the Educational Park library, location of the first teensReach group, “[I] slowly, almost sneakily transformed the group from one that merely advised to one that actively championed the library, ran their own meetings, and planned events,” he says. Berman is currently engaged in bringing a variety of life skills programming to teens in order to prepare them for the world after graduation.