Florida library program looks to encourage young authors

AuthorRemember the days of free library programs? Once upon a time, not too long ago, children especially could find a variety of programs at their local libraries ranging from help with school studies, to story times, to workshops, to crafting tutorials. These types of programs represented the heyday of the library as a treasured local fixture… and they’re making a comeback.

Nowhere is this more true than in Florida, at the Suntree/Viera Library. Here, a new program called “Young Author’s Group” is giving young writers a chance and a place to actively nurture their talents. Scott Hauge, who created the program, said that he wanted it to function as a sort of safe place for experimentation and sharing of work – as well as a place for children and teens to hone their skills. Sometimes, he says, writers with a lot of potential may not even know it, or they may not feel brave enough to ever share their work with others, regardless of the quality.

The meetings are held once per month throughout the school year, except for December when children are away from school and most people become busy during the holiday season. Anyone from age 9 to 16 can participate. Hauge himself holds a master’s degree in Library Information & Science, and is the established head of services for youths at the library branch; he’s been in the position for over two years now.

In order to participate, children and teens need only to bring a notebook and some sort of writing utensil, other than that, Hauge says, it’s all about imagination and creativity.

The classes themselves focus on the basics of writing and helping young people become familiar with grammatical structure, storytelling principles, and more. There are no hard and fast/set in stone assignments, and instead students are encouraged to simply take the principles they’ve learned and apply them to whatever they choose or are inspired to write about. Hauge says some of the natural talent he’s seen in participants is impressive, though he doesn’t take credit for what these learners are bringing to the table.

In addition to the current classes, Hauge says that there’s a program for even younger aspiring writers in the works as well (five, six, and seven year olds, apparently). The program could even serve as a pilot for a number of other exciting classes and opportunities to come to the library and flourish in the future.

During the last couple of decades, libraries have been on the decline following a sharp rise in the availability of digital information and a change in community and consumer needs. Even so, they are seeing a resurgence these days, and communities look for a way to establish some of the traditional education roots that may have been lost or eroded in recent times. Libraries are consistently winning their battles for higher state and county budget allocation, even in hard economic times. With these funds, library systems are able to put together more and more opportunities for their communities, just like Hauge’s Young Author’s Group.