Our 70th Anniversary Project - Creating a Teen Space in the Library

The members of Junior League of Harlingen decided to focus their efforts in celebration of JLH’s 70th anniversary on renovating a space for the teens that use the Harlingen Public Library. This decision was made after listening to Sarah Munoz, the teen director, describe the amazing programming and impact the library is having on teens.  These teenagers participate in community events, such as Viva Streets Harlingen; develop leadership skills as they plan events for themselves and other members of the community; and participate in monthly book clubs and other social clubs.

Creating a space for teenagers to feel comfortable in exploring ideas, learning leadership skills, and furthering their education aligns perfectly with the mission of JLH. JLH is uniquely able to address this need effectively with a combination of manpower to fundraise, existing funds to donate, and incredibly skilled members like Amy Muniz, professionals who are able to reduce the cost of the overall project by donating their design services, leading a team of committed volunteers.  Through speaking with the staff and library users, Amy and her team recognized that the library will be undergoing many changes over the coming years as the library works toward becoming more of a social hub and were able to assist with an overall plan for the facility before sharpening their focus on the teen space.

Sarah’s words inspired us:
“Through books, stories, games and events, we’ve had experiences, traveled all over the world, to different worlds, parallel universes, alternate universes—and through these adventures, the teens themselves, have been given a chance to grow. To grow into themselves. To create bonds. To discover more of who they are and what they are about. And even beyond all that, within the proverbial four walls of the library, they’ve found a place to belong.”

And the words of the teenagers convinced us:

“Before TAG, I didn’t really have a home. However, a year later, I consider the library my home and the TAG members my family.”

“Coming to the library makes me feel…complete.”

“Joining the Teen Advisory Group has deeply affected my life. I’ve always felt like an outcast because I love to read, watch anime, and write. Being here with a community of people that enjoy the same things I do is a great thing.”

“I have made new friends and gotten off video games.”

We believe the teenagers of our community deserve a welcoming, safe place to be, to grow, and to expand their knowledge. 


In an effort to meet the demands of an evolving library of the 21st Century and to compliment the Harlingen Public Library’s mission to build bridges for people to connect with information and each other, The Teen Space will reflect the needs of this population that ranges in age from 12-18. Aiming to depart from the traditional library model that is more than just a place to read or find books, The Teen Space will create a social experience that goes beyond its current teen book collection where teens can gather, share ideas and solve problems. The visible accessibility of their services and programs will inspire a new culture within this TRIBE of teens that is a very mobile, creative and diversified lifelong reader.

The Inspiration for this design came from a conversation with the Teen Group that emphasized the idea of belonging to something. Every teen in the discussion expressed the reason for coming back to the library as an inherent need to belong to a group. The natural progression of this strategically curated “community of specialized spaces” offers every teen user that walks through this space an opportunity to contribute a thought or idea to the group, the TRIBE. The space plan, color scheme, way finding graphics and materiality will be playful, interactive, integrative and bold.


The newly created Teen Space has increased from an existing 971 square feet to almost 1300 square feet with opportunity for future expansion. As a “safe place” within the library, it is very visible from the high traffic Adult Commons Area and in line of sight to a future Reception Desk.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.32.36 AM.png

The Main Elements include:
• Entry Lounge,
• Idea LAB,
• Commons Area
• Media Lounge,
• Stacks Collection
• Quiet Focus Pods
• A Donor Glass WALL
• a Transition Area just outside of the space before entering from the adjacent Adult Commons Area.

The Transition Area includes additional bookcases with seating, a bar wrapped column and a Digital Check-in touch screen. Each element within the space is strategically placed to support people, information and technology.