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I’d like to speak for a moment to the teenagers of Artesia. And by that I mean your parents, since I doubt any of you are reading this.

There’s someone in Artesia your teenager should meet, and no, I don’t mean a therapist capable of figuring out why they glare at you when you ask how their day was. I can tell you that – they just spent eight-plus hours trapped in small spaces with other people whose hormonal mood swings are also in warp drive, and if you think about it, that would put anyone in a really bad mood.

I’m referring to the Artesia Public Library’s teen services librarian, Erin Loveland.

If your teen and Erin are already acquainted, I can assure you they’re better for it and are probably also the proud owners of some neat stuff they made out of old t-shirts and vinyl records. But if they aren’t, I can sum up succinctly why they should be: She cares about them.

She may not know them yet, but Erin cares about every teenager in Artesia. She’s interested in their interests. She’s created a solution to the inevitable “there’s nothing to do in this town” problem. And she understands that, no matter how sullen, all teens secretly love to forget the drama of the school day and act like kids for a while.

Each month, Erin devises a slate of creative activities designed to give teens a fun evening out. There’ve been costumed super hero dances and video game tournaments. Chinese New Year celebrations and Iron Chef competitions. Crafts that let teens complement their unique style, movie nights, and indoor snowball fights.

There are usually always snacks, something fun to take home, and everything is 100-percent free.

Most recently, the library was ready to host an Anti-Valentine’s Day Party to let teens poke fun at the romantic holiday whilst enjoying music, desserts, crafts and games. Their hard work, however, went to waste.

The teen events are overall sparsely attended, which is baffling. When I envision scenarios of parents asking their teens why they don’t go to the library, they mostly involve said teens muttering something along the lines of “That’s nerdy” before returning to their cell phones to tweet friends they could be at the library actually doing something with, the irony blissfully lost.

When I was a teen, we had the internet, too. Granted, it was without the majority of the social media sites of today, but it was overrun with chat applications, and yes, we probably all spent a bit too much time there. But had someone offered up a place in which to hang out, eat free food, and mock Valentine’s Day for an afternoon, we’d have been breaking down the door.

The difference was no one cared whether we had anything to do. But your teens have Erin.

At 4 p.m. Wednesday, they could take their pillows and just relax, listening to stories and enjoying snacks for World Read Aloud Day. And next month, there’ll be another host of activities they can attend with their friends or use as an opportunity to meet new ones. Their involvement and input could also help the library plan future events.

So encourage your teen to get to know Erin. You can contact her at 746-8515 or [email protected] And the library’s teen events are published regularly in the Around Town.

It’s tough enough being a teen, tougher still when it feels as though adults consider you one large phase they’d like to hurry up and grow out of itself. When one comes along who wants to celebrate all the crazy things that make you who you are right now, to give you a sanctuary where you can be yourself and – even better – some cookies, it’s a rare gift, particularly in a community as small as Artesia. Take advantage of it.

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