High Schoolers in Oak Park: We’re Here for You

High school patrons sitting at tables
Above: a scene from fall 2021’s open house re-opening the Main Library’s second floor southeast corner as a dedicated space for high school students.

Meet our team serving high school students

Latonia Jackson, Manager of Teen Services

Before joining the library in January 2022, Latonia spent more than 20 years working at Oak Park and River Forest High School, most recently as Outreach Coordinator. She has extensive work and volunteer experience serving teens and their families and is passionate about making a difference in their lives. More about Latonia »


Alana Gray

Alana Gray, Teen Services Library Specialist

Alana became our new Teen Services Library Specialist in April 2022. Alana has worked for the library since 2017, previously as a shelver and a Library Assistant. She also helped out with the former Living History program for teens and has passion for social justice issues. She enjoys reading and gaming.


Alex Gutierrez

Alex Gutierrez, Teen Services Librarian

Alex has been with the Oak Park Public Library since 2016, when he started as a volunteer. He then became a part-time employee who assisted the library’s previous Teen Services Librarian with collection management and program planning. More about Alex »


Amy Hofmockel

Amy Hofmockel, Teen Services Digital Learning Librarian

Amy is a digital learning librarian who always looks for ways to create those “ah-ha!” moments for digital learners. She enjoys writing, gadgets, and baking.


Marché Pernell

Marché Pernell, Teen Services Coordinator

Marché is the new Teen Services Coordinator. Before joining the team in April 2022, she served as a Teen Library Associate for Chicago Public Library and taught English to middle and high school students in Chicago. She has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Dominican University and is currently training to become a certified yoga teacher.


Leading Edge Advisory Board members in the Teen Space they helped design.

See the Main Library Teen Space

The dedicated Teen Space, in the southeast corner of the Main Library’s second floor, is an after-school destination intended specifically for library patrons ages 13-18. The space features colorful tables and chairs, comfortable and flexible furniture, and a new big-screen TV.

Special thanks to members of the Leading Edge Teen Advisory Board for their creativity, leadership, and input on the space and the grand opening event last September.

Every other Friday, Oak Park and River Forest High School teacher Claire Downs (middle photo, second from right) visits the Main Library with her students.

‘The Teen Space is perfect for us!’

“The Teen Space is perfect for us!” says Oak Park and River Forest High School teacher Claire Downs, who visits every other Friday with her students. “We don’t have to be especially quiet, we can move around a bit, and we have access to many fun things like games, video games, books, etc. I think it is important for my students to visit and be comfortable in new spaces. I also think it is valuable that they learn how to appropriately use community spaces like the library.”

Claire and her students are from the Transition Education with Access to Mainstream (TEAM) program, which is for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who require the most amount of support.

Community-based instruction is a big part of the program, Claire says. “One of our favorite community outings is to visit the library. We like it because it’s close by and free! We usually walk to the library while practicing street safety and awareness.”

Two teens with backpacks looking at shelves of books
Shelves of teen graphic novels, manga, fiction, nonfiction, and audiobooks (with room to grow) near the Teen Space on the Main Library’s second floor

Collection shifts give more room for more teen materials

Last February, to maximize use of shelf and floor space and to offer everyone a better in-person browsing experience, we reorganized about 58,000 items on the second and third floors—about 1,000 shelves, or 25 percent of the total physical collection.

“For teens, these changes make it a lot easier to find and browse teen graphic novels and teen manga—both really popular collections,” said Teen Services Librarian Alex Gutierrez.

The moves also increased shelf space for teen fiction, nonfiction, and audiobooks, which are always in high demand. “We are always evaluating how the community is using materials,” said Materials Services Manager Barbara Fitzgerald.

Stay current on news and new arrivals.

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