Teenagers wanting to hang out at the Peninsula Center Library in Rolling Hills Estates have always had to use a small storefront building across the street that’s near, but disconnected, from the main library.
But, on Aug. 30, construction begins on a rooftop annex within the library where teens can gather, and library staff and supporters say they are thrilled.
“Here on the hill, there’s just so little space for teenagers to really just be, and also study and socialize and come together. The across-the-street location is really awkward,” Jennifer Addington, the district director for the Palos Verdes Library District, said.
“We are going to construct a dedicated teen annex which will also be a community space in the mornings, right here on our own property,” Addington said.
The cost of building the addition is estimated at $600,000, with $350,000 coming from a settlement given to the library by a property developer who owns a previous space near the library that had also been used as a teen annex building.
An additional $250,000 was raised through private donations by Peninsula Friends of the Library, a nonprofit dedicated to helping fund the library.
“It took about six months of fundraising to get to this point,” Addington said. “They gave themselves a high bar, but the Friends of the Library and the board, they just knocked it out of the park, as did the community.”
When fully built, the teen annex will cover about 1,600 square feet of space, Addington said, with enough room to fit up to 100 people. Construction is expected to take nine to 10 months.
Among the planned activities and amenities are a dedicated, safe environment for teens with computers, downloadable books, movies and videos, opportunities for computer and console gaming, movies and the ability to listen to music. Socializing would also be encouraged and there could also be special events such as poetry contests and Harry Potter-themed gatherings, she said.
The annex would mostly be available on weekday afternoons, but also might be open some occasional Saturdays, Addington said.
In the morning, the space could support book groups and other events for adults and seniors.
“Although it will be configured more like a teen area, we will be able to have the flexibility to do other things to it,” she said. “It will be outfitted with a projector and screens and speakers, with good AV (audio-visual). It will be completely self-contained so that you’ll be able to do all you need to do without exiting and coming into the library proper.”
Peninsula Friends of the Library Executive Director Colleen Cotter said that although the project is mostly funded, the nonprofit is still looking to raise an additional $65,000 to pay for construction costs, with donations being accepted on the Peninsula Friends website at pvldfriends.org.
Cotter said even with the new annex on the horizon, the current building across the street from the main library still plays an important function.
“It really is an incredible place for them to come in and decompress,” she said of local teens. “A lot of kids are figuring out their path and this is a place where kids can really be themselves. In this day and age, a lot of kids can’t do that anymore. It really is a gift to our community.”