Group of teens makes difference with Teen Library Committee

Maya Brisan, Staff Writer

The Tualatin Teen Library Committee (TLC) is a committee of teenagers from our community who plan events for other teenagers and try to make the library more appealing to others our age. They offer events that everyone can enjoy, creating a space for kids to come once a month and have fun with other people their age. Usually, they put on one event a month, but with COVID-19, things have changed drastically. 

Aimee Meuchel, the Teen Services Librarian at the Tualatin Public Library, started the TLC that exists currently. 

“I ran a TLC when I was the Teen Librarian in Eugene and it wasn’t the greatest experience, so I had no intention of starting one in Tualatin,” said Meuchel. “But two teens who were excellent volunteers had been turned down for YAC [Youth Advisory Council] (it was overflowing), and I wanted something similar to offer them. So together we started TLC and have been going gangbusters since then.”

Meuchel works very hard to make sure all of their events come to life, and she always strives to make the experiences very fun.

“My favorite events were mini-golf and the science fiction party. With mini-golf we turned the entire non-fiction section of the library into a golf course and it was such a fun and funny program. It was a night of pure joy!” Meuchel reminisced. “Science fiction party was the first large party that TLC did in its first year and it was a great experience planning all of the details and seeing the community have tons of fun with the games and activities. It laid the groundwork for all of our future events. Our first Día de los Muertos was also magical. So many great programs over the many years of TLC!”

TLC consists of about 20 teens from our area, from grades 8 to 12. Once you start 11th grade, you are no longer eligible to apply, and you can find more information on how to apply on the TLC page of the City of Tualatin website. Prospective members will be interviewed by current TLC members and the process takes place over the summer. 

TLC has hosted many events over the years, and continues to host online events over Zoom due to the COVID-19 environment. To find out what events are being hosted every month, you can visit the City of Tualatin calendar and look at the Friday of that month. In December, they are hosting a relaxation event and an Among Us event. Both are listed on the calendar with the registration link. You must register to attend the events on Zoom, and make sure to register quickly; there are limited spots for every event.

“I have been a part of TLC for three years now. My favorite events that we’ve done have been our Murder Mystery Parties, as it’s always fun to act out the characters with my TLC members as well as meet new people,” Tualatin High School junior Arius Allen said. “[I]t’s one of our biggest events, so we get to see a large group of people. We also get to figure out the mystery ourselves, and we just all have a lot of fun.”

It’s much harder to plan events online, and new members are trying to figure out what to do without seeing everything in person. Liam Crawford, a sophomore at Tualatin High School, joined TLC this year.

“I love the events we host and the meetings we hold,” Crawford said. “Everybody involved is always super nice and we always have a lot of fun!  I really enjoyed the Among Us event. I helped host and plan it, and it was super super fun! I joined TLC because it sounded like a lot of fun [and] a good volunteer/leadership experience.”

TLC welcomes everybody, and they especially want people with different interests. They want to create events for everybody to enjoy, and this requires many people with different perspectives.

“I think the Nerf gun battle has been the most memorable. Other members would poke fun about how brutal of a player I was,” said Tualatin High School senior Tenzin Dolkar. “I’ve never been with a group where new members feel comfortable that quickly. [T]his has allowed me to build close friendships with [a] vast majority of the members.”

Even though a lot of work gets done during the meetings by planning events and finding ways to make the library exciting for teens, TLC becomes less of a committee and more of a family the longer you are a part of it. 

“My favorite part is the people,” Meuchel said. “I love working with teens and I really love working with the TLC teens. [They] all raise my spirits and make me continue to have hope for the future. [Their] energy and enthusiasm are great.”

All the teenagers have something in common: their love of the library and doing something good for their community. TLC is a great way to branch out and meet new people, even becoming close friends with some of them.

“My favorite part of being on TLC is being able to be a part of the community and plan events that many people can enjoy including myself,” Allen said. “I also get to make a ton of friends on the team, and it’s always a fun time with everyone, even if we’re busy working on events.”

Those who have been on TLC more than a year or two are experiencing many challenges with planning events from home and hosting those events online, and they are missing out on the fun, in-person meetings.

“TLC and COVID-19 have been an interesting experience,” Meuchel said. “In the first few months, I think we met just to have time together and try to normalize what was happening in the world around us. We’ve slowly evolved to doing virtual programs and learning to have fun in other ways. It’s been great for creativity but not great for group adhesiveness. I think we are managing really well and [they] all constantly surprise me with [their] ideas! It’s not the way I would choose to do things, but I think we have made the best of the situation and even managed to have some fun!”