Bethel Public Library renovates its Teenspace, Project Lab



BETHEL – Bethel Public Library staff are proud that their “little” library is a destination spot in town.

The library took steps to enhance this designation when it opened its renovated Teenspace room and expanded the Project Lab area to the community.

The goal was to create a safe space for teens to engage and learn through programming and library support services, using technology tools like 3D printing, laser engraving, video and entertainment equipment.

“What we’ve done is take the existing space for teens and revamp it to make it more appealing to teens,” said Ellen Janpol, director of programming and outreach at Bethel Library. “We made the area bigger. We replaced the furniture, redesigned the shelving and made it a more open environment, something bigger and better for the teenagers.”

Both spaces are on the first floor but in different areas.

“The Project Lab has also been expanded and expanded,” she said. “That’s where we run tech classes for teens where they can learn and use tech tools, including some you don’t find in schools.”

Janpol said new programs specifically for teens in the Project Lab are being developed. Bailey Gartman, Head of Youth Services Programming, and Tom Borysiewicz, Head of Adult Services and Technology, oversee Teenspace, the Project Lab and its programs.

The renovation project was made possible with the help of State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan, D-Bethel, who secured a $150,000 nonprofit grant for the project.

“Rep. Allie-Brennan worked his magic in Hartford to secure the necessary funding,” Janpol said.

He also worked with AT&T to secure an additional $10,000 grant.

“The tech tools teens will use in the library are the tech some will use in their careers,” Allie-Brennan said in a statement. “They can learn more at the library in a stress-free, level-free environment. A space where teens will really want to spend their time.”

Janpol said nearly 100 people showed up on Oct. 23 when the library held an open house for the public to showcase its improvements.

“It’s important for us at the library to create space and programs to help teens use these tools in a non-threatening environment,” Janpol said. “It’s all part of our library being a great destination in town. There are so many great resources here in our little library.”

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