Teens Need Their Space. The Friends & Foundation of HCLS is Working to Provide It – Won’t You Join Us?

A series of photos showing teens at the library layer beneath two banners. One reads "Teens need their space." The other says, "Donate nowo to make it happen." Hashtag: Friends Make It Happen.

By Mickey Gomez, Board Chair, Friends & Foundation of HCLS

Howard County routinely ranks among the best places in the country to live (Money Magazine). We have it all, from downtown Columbia to Patapsco Valley State Park. Instrumental in our community’s success has always been Howard County Library System (HCLS), the only five-star library in Maryland (Library Journal).

The Library’s success comes from always striving to exceed our customers’ expectations. Not only does HCLS lend books and movies, but also tools and art. Not only does HCLS teach early literacy classes to children, but also brings in well-known authors and speakers for adults. Not only can you stream and download electronic books and audiobooks, but you can also conduct genealogical research and practice a new language with HCLS online resources.

Truly, our public library provides countless services and benefits the community in a wide variety of ways, striving to ensure that everyone who walks in the doors is met with a welcoming environment and dedicated space where learning, creativity, and friendships can flourish.

This year, HCLS is focusing particularly on teens.

Do you remember being a teenager? What was your favorite place to be? What made it so?

HCLS is poised to be the third place for teenagers: somewhere that’s not school and not home, but still safe and fun. Safe spaces are important for tweens and teens, a place to be themselves, cement friendships, and interact with adult mentors.

Teens have a healthy need for their own places, and HCLS is working to provide exactly that.

Each of the Library’s six branches has a designated location within the building set aside for middle and high school students. At present, the spaces tend to focus on academic needs – with tables and chairs for homework and silent study – but are absent furnishings and technology that invite teens to stay and engage with the resources and one another.

Your donation to Friends & Foundation of HCLS will help change that!

While the library will always remain an excellent place to learn and do schoolwork, HCLS wants to do even more!

  • The Library will outfit its teen areas with comfortable furniture that encourages connection, collaboration, and conversation.
  • HCLS will enhance offerings with even more opportunities of interest, including more hands-on STEM and Arts education, and other educational, fun, and even quirky things teens declare as important to them.
  • Library staff and community engagement teams plan to listen to these young customers’ thoughts on what they want and need, then work to fulfill those requests, creating lifelong Library patrons along the way.

We are asking for your help in providing these nurturing, welcoming spaces.

Howard County has very few places for teens to just be themselves, places that don’t require a purchase or a membership to be there. HCLS wants to be that free and open place, and your donation to the Friends can help make this happen.

The Friends & Foundation of HCLS is a nonprofit organization that supports HCLS in its mission to deliver high quality education for all ages, and most recently, with the new Pop-Up Library to meet the youngest customers in their neighborhoods and help them get ready for Kindergarten.

Now, HCLS is focusing equally on teenagers and providing what they need to thrive and succeed, and we invite you to join us in making it a reality.

Happy National Library Week!

A family of four stands together outside, with parents holding children wearing bright yellow shirts.

by John Dove

There are so many reasons that my family loves living in Howard County … the beautiful farm land, wonderful people and accessible county resources – including our world-class Howard County Library System.

We love using the Library. My family all take out books of course, but we engage in many Library programs as well, and love the garden at the Miller Library.

Why does this matter to me? 

This matters to me because we all need to support each other to the best of our abilities. We love our library community! Everyone is always so helpful and accommodating, and they offer so many incredible programs and resources to help us raise our family.

In fact, the Library is so important to my family, and to me personally, that I have chosen to invest my personal time as a member of the Board of the Friends & Foundation of the Howard County Library System, or as we simply refer to it as, “The Friends”.

Friends and Foundation of Howard County Library System is a nonprofit organization that supports HCLS in its mission to deliver high quality education for all ages.

Specifically, we support:

  • Battle of the Books
  • HCLS Spelling Bee
  • HCLS BumbleBee
  • HiTech STEM classes and events
  • Notable Author Events
  • HCLS Project Literary Graduation
  • Rube Goldberg Challenge
  • Summer Reading
  • Children’s Discovery Fair
  • Teen Time
  • Online Homework Assistance
  • Enchanted Garden
  • Family Movie Nights

While our family favorite is the Enchanted Garden, we know the entire county enjoys all of these Library efforts, and then some. That’s why my family supports the Friends, and I invite you to as well.

The Friends & Foundation is hosting a Floral Fundraiser to Kick Off National Library Week. This fall, HCLS will be introducing a new mobile library van, On the Road to Kindergarten, that will bring library collections, services, and programs to all corners of the community, focusing on preparing children from birth to three for kindergarten. The Friends & Foundation of HCLS is holding a floral fundraiser this spring to support it. You can donate and enjoy a thank-you gift(s): 

  • $35 – Hanging Flower Basket
  • $30 – Sobar Drink Kit
  • $30 – Flower Cookie Kit


A portion of your donation goes directly to HCLS to support this fantastic project that will creatively bring education, support, and activities to young minds outside the library’s buildings – it’s a Win, Win, Win! 

Learn more at www.friendshcls.org

There’s something for everyone at the Howard County Library System, and the Friends & Foundation is here to support it. Please join me and my family in both as we celebrate National Library Week!