September 2022

Upcoming Library Programs focused on Teens and Mental Health

September 19, 2022

Contact: Tess Mayer
Director of Library Services
Berkeley Public Library

Upcoming Library Programs focused on Teens and Mental Health

Also: New Spaces, Staff and Programs just for Teens!

Berkeley, California (September 19, 2022) – Several programs focused on wellness, mental health resources and community-building are being held at the Library for teens in the coming weeks:

Planting Wellness Workshop: teens decorate pots and repot plants to take home from PlanterDay while learning about local resources for mental health and wellness.

Teen Hangout: weekly community building with table top games, crafts, movies, video games and more.

Treat Yourself! Make Your Own Self-Care Kit: gather tools and connect with the Bay-Area teen-led mental health advocacy organization, SafeSpace.

A reading list of books in the collection for teens and related to mental health can be found on bookmarks on display in the libraries or by entering the search term “YAcoping” into the online catalog. This curated list includes both nonfiction and fiction titles such as Depression, a Teen’s Guide to Survive and Thrive, by Jacqueline B. Toner, Flawd: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things that Make You Who You Are, by Emily-Anne Rigal and The Silence that Binds Us, by Joanna Ho.

“Our youth here in Berkeley and nationwide have been experiencing an acute mental health crisis; if teens themselves are not struggling with mental health challenges, someone they know is or has,” notes Director of Library Services Tess Mayer. “With three new teen librarians, a new social worker on staff, expanded teen programming and dedicated teen spaces, the Library is here as a resource and a welcoming space for teens and their loved ones.”

Every Berkeley Public Library has a dedicated teen room – with the most recent one opening at Central, just a half a block from Berkeley High School. “The highlight of my day is observing teens in this new space where they can be completely themselves,” Brianna Meli, teen librarian, smiles and says. “The teen room is always full, every day, especially afterschool. It is my job to listen to our teens, hear them and provide for their needs.”

Library resources particularly popular with teens include:
• Free, online live tutoring
• Learning and research databases/apps
• Free Wi-fi, laptop check-outs & free printing up to 5 pages per day
• eBooks, Streaming Music & Films
• Comfortable seating for group work
• Reading recommendations by library staff for manga, comics, and novels

What’s in the works for the near future? Additional programs that work to destigmatize mental health challenges and promote resiliency, Saturday teen sewing circles, a teen volunteering program and more.

For questions regarding Teen Services, call Heather Cummins at (510) 981-6124.

For questions about Library events, services, hours and locations, please call (510) 981-6100 or visit the Library’s website

Masking is strongly encouraged at outdoor programs and required for entry into library locations. Events are wheelchair accessible. To request a sign language interpreter or other accommodations for library events, please call (510) 981-6195 (voice) or (510) 548-1240 (TTY) at least five working days in advance to help ensure availability. Please refrain from wearing scented products to public programs.

Thank you to the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library for their generous support of library programs. Thank you to the Berkeley Public Library Foundation for their support that helped make the new teen room at Central possible.


“Conscious Kits” Pilot Project Launches this Friday: Picture Books with Discussion Guides for Caretakers

September 07, 2022

Contact: Tess Mayer
Director of Library Services
Berkeley Public Library

“Conscious Kits” Pilot Project Launches this Friday
Picture Books with Discussion Guides for Caretakers

Berkeley, California (September 7, 2022) – The Berkeley Public Library is launching Conscious Kits for Kids, a pilot collection of book discussion kits on racial equity, identity and social justice geared towards preschoolers ages 3-5 and their parents and caretakers. Kits will be available on library shelves this Friday, September 9, 2022.

“Conversations that address issues of social inequities and injustice can be challenging, especially with young children,” explains children’s librarian Sheila Lew. “It is our hope that these kits will support adults in having meaningful conversations with their preschoolers.”

Each kit includes three different picture books with discussion guides and a list of resources for the adults reading the books to the children. Four different themed kits are now available on the following topics:

Identity and Belonging - available in English or in Spanish
Social Justice
Disability Awareness

Kits can be checked out from any of the five Berkeley Public Library locations. Library card holders can place holds on kits in the online catalog.

Funding for this pilot project was provided by the generous support of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation.

"Public libraries play a vital role in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion,” notes Foundation Executive Director, Kathy Huff. “As a long-time funding partner for transformative literacy initiatives, we are excited about this pilot project which will provide such an engaging new collection of resources for children and families in our community."

Conscious Kits are one of several initiatives emanating from the work of the Berkeley Public Library’s Racial Justice Advisory Group (RJAG) staff team which was formed in 2021 after the Library applied for and was accepted into the California Racial Equity Initiative. RJAG members worked closely with the Library’s Collections team to develop these initial Conscious Kits.

Staff decided to focus on books for preschoolers for this pilot project due to the abundance of research that cites children as young as four years old exhibit and are impacted by biases.

“Kits for our younger patrons are just the beginning,” says Supervising Librarian for Collections, Bae Smith. “We anticipate expanding this pilot program and developing kits for patrons of additional age groupings in the future.”

For questions regarding Conscious Kits, call Sheila Lew at (510) 981-6054.

For questions regarding the Library’s Racial Justice Advisory Group (RJAG), please call Administration at (510) 981-6195.

For questions about additional Library events, services, hours and locations, please call (510) 981-6100 or visit the Library’s website