Youth Programs & Services
Our talented Youth Services librarians are not just enthusiastic adults who happen to be great with kids! They are trained library professionals who develop collections and programs that support our mission to educate, entertain, and empower our community’s youngest members. Albany Public Library’s diverse and dynamic Youth Services programs focus on literacy, arts, science, and technology education. Our story times, creative play activities, and gaming programs provide a safe and fun environment away from home and school. We offer after-school tutoring in most subjects, and we partner with a number of organizations to introduce the latest in robotics, coding, and more to kids and teens.
Below is just a sampling of what we offer all year round at all seven of our neighborhood branches. Please see our calendar and our program guide for our complete schedule and specific program descriptions.
Spaces Just for Kids & Teens
The library is often the one public place Albany youth can go where there’s a space just for them. Our Youth Services librarians work hard to create spaces that are both inspiring and relaxing, whether your child wants to curl up with a great book, socialize with friends, use a computer or tablet, tap into our Wi-Fi, do homework, or even play with toys, puzzles, board games or video games.
We know how important it is for kids to interact with each other, and that even in this day and age when everything and everyone is online, children and teens still crave in-person socialization. We’ve seen a lot of playdates and strengthened social bonds here at the library. Each branch is unique and full of the vibrancy of our Albany, NY communities—we encourage you to visit them all and hang out with us!
Everyone knows kids and teens are super tech savvy, and the Upper Hudson Library System provides an intuitive catalog just for kids that uses lots of graphics and allows our youngest patrons to begin learning how to conduct a search. UHLS also provides kids with Tumblebooks, interactive ebooks for beginning readers with added animation, music, and narration. We have research databases for homework help, and we also have ebooks just for kids and teens that they can check out with their library cards.
Our Youth Services librarians know how important it is for our youngest members to be read to because it encourages a lifelong love of reading. A mainstay of traditional library programming, we offer dozens of story times each month for children from birth through elementary school. Our gifted staff select wonderful, age-appropriate books, but they also sing songs, engage in rhyming and finger play (“Itsy Bitsy Spider,” anyone?), and many story times also include a fun craft. We even offer a Spanish Story Time at our Delaware Branch and a Bedtime Story Time at our Bach Branch. See our calendar for details about Baby Bounce, Toddler, Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Older Kids story times, and be sure to join us!
Do you remember how much you loved playing with kitchen sets and barnyard animal toys? Such toys help develop fine motor skills and support early literacy by building vocabulary and encouraging comprehension.
All of our neighborhood branches offer creative play activities for kids up to age 5 that allow little ones to tap into their imaginations during unstructured play time. Kids can play with our toy kitchens, wooden blocks and train sets, LEGOs, Duplo bricks, dolls, dump trucks, farm animals, and more. It’s also a great way for children to interact with others–and for parents to socialize, too!
Summer Reading Program
Albany kids have no reason to be bored during summer vacation because we provide dozens of activities to engage them and keep them entertained! For eight weeks every summer, all Albany Public Library neighborhood branches deliver free programs for children and teens, including musical performances, hands-on science experiments, movie showings, arts and crafts classes, technology workshops, scavenger hunts, and more. If it’s a cool activity where kids can learn something new and have fun, then it’s part of summer at our branches.
Don’t get us wrong: our Summer Reading Program also has a strong reading component! Kids and teens are encouraged to read whatever books they like, and are rewarded for their efforts with small prizes and lots of praise from our Youth Services librarians! We love talking to youngsters about the books they’re reading for the summer as much as we enjoy helping them find the next great book that will get them excited about reading.
Everyone can use a little homework help sometimes. Did you know we offer after-school and Saturday tutoring at many of our neighborhood branches? Our tutors from Albany colleges are here to help youth in grades 1-12 with homework, test preparation, or most school subjects.
Arts & Crafts
“Look what I made!” We know that kids and teens love arts & crafts, and we offer dozens of programs to encourage artistic expression and learn new techniques. We love providing kids and teens opportunities to take something home that they made themselves, and we often just bring out the art supplies for open-ended activities where they can experiment and get guidance from staff. These experiences introduce kids and teens to hobbies like painting, drawing, collage, jewelry design, knitting… you never know, a lifelong passion just might be developed right here at the library!
You remember how much you loved music as a kid, and how important the music you enjoyed was to your identity? We know kids and teens love music, so we offer music programs like guitar lessons, songwriting and recording. We’ve even partnered with local musicians to teach hip hop workshops and local radio stations to give kids a chance to be DJs. Many of our talented Youth Services librarians are musicians themselves, so we even host family sing-alongs and musical story times.
Science & Technology
We know that kids and teens get plenty of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in school, and we also know that sometimes a love of learning can take place right here at the library! We offer lots of science and technology programs like Science Story Time for kids at our Delaware Branch and STEMpunk for teens at our Washington Avenue Branch. In the summer, our popular Sidewalk Science program offers fun (and sometimes messy!) experiments outdoors, and our Maker and Take-Apart programs provide access to and experience with electronic components. We often partner with local organizations to bring robotics, coding, video game design, bee keeping, and much more to our branches.
Our Youth Services librarians know that it is often important for kids and teens to approach science and technology without fear of failure, and our programs raise awareness of professions and build self-confidence and resilience during challenging learning activities.
Fun & Games
We know that sometimes kids and teens just wanna have fun! We offer lots of gaming activities, from Wii and PlayStation to Dungeons & Dragons and Monopoly. We’ve even constructed a live action Pac Man grid at our Pine Hills Branch and hosted retro video game nights at our Howe Branch. We regularly screen family-friendly films and other cool activities where kids and teens can just chill out and be themselves.