For one teen volunteer, the Library is a place where working, learning, and dreaming big come together

Teens play an important role at Pima County Public Library. As volunteers, interns, youth workers, and members of our Teen Advisory Boards, they contribute so much more than time; they help make the Library the dynamic, community hub that it is today.

Angela Nachampassak, 16, is a volunteer and member of the Teen Advisory Board at the Quincie Douglas Library. She’s helped plan Summer Reading activities, decorate for holidays, and of course, shelve books. According to librarian Margaret Beem, “She’s also been a driving force in our programming for young adults, giving me insight into what teens are reading and watching and how we can better serve them.”

There are many words her colleagues use to describe her: focused, committed, and motivated to name a few. They weren’t surprised, then, when Angela was recently accepted to the prestigious Junior State of America Summer Program at Georgetown University.

Angela plans to pursue a career in international diplomacy, so the opportunity to broaden her understanding of politics and leadership at Georgetown (her future university of choice) will help put her one step closer to achieving that dream.

We decided to check in with Angela to learn a little more about her and the role the Library has played in preparing her for the future.

What types of activities have you participated in as a volunteer? What have you learned?

I’ve done everything from writing book reviews to appearing in a Curious George costume during Love of Reading Week. I’ve also spent a lot of time searching for missing materials in the library. This activity is something that most people don’t like, but I love. When I’m looking for books, I get to explore the library in more detail than I ever imagined! Plus, I like organizing things.

I’ve also helped out at children’s events, served as a teaching assistant during the annual summer math boot camp, and played with kids who attend the afterschool snack program.

As for what I’ve learned… so many things, but also that the Curious George costume gets awfully hot! In addition, there are more authors, books, and genres than I ever knew. I’ve had so much fun learning about them (especially steampunk!), devouring books, and making recommendations.

What do you love about volunteering at the Library?

It doesn’t feel like work at all! Everyone there has a sense of purpose and there’s such satisfaction in knowing that you’ve spent your time helping to make someone’s life easier. I especially love getting to know the community better. I’ve regularly visited the Quincie Douglas Library since I was in 4th grade. I used to attend the tutoring program and now I get to work alongside the familiar faces that I’ve seen since I was young. I also love playing with the kids there because it reminds me of my younger self. When I was young, the librarians made sure that my time there was enjoyable. Now I’m doing the same thing for other kids.

Your interest lies in civic engagement. How do you think the Library supports its community and makes a difference in peoples’ lives?

Yes, I’m very interested in civic engagement. I’m involved with the organization Junior State of America (JSA) whose motto is "Be the People.” In JSA, teens across the country have an outlet to voice their opinions and discuss controversial political topics, such as immigration and abortion.

I absolutely love what the JSA and the Library’s Teen Advisory Boards stand for. At the Library, teens in the community get a say on things that we believe should be offered there. The reason that I am a part of these two amazing organizations is because they both truly demonstrate that youth, who will become the future, should be heard and represented regardless of our age.

You’ve been accepted to the JSA Summer Program at Georgetown University, correct? Can you tell us why this opportunity is so important to you?

Yes, and I still cannot believe it because this is an amazing opportunity that I never thought I would receive. Georgetown University is the college that I hope to attend after high school. In the JSA Summer Program, I will study Honors International Relations. I want to become an international diplomat who travels the world and helps solve political issues. This summer program will allow me to get one step closer to living that dream, which seemed so impossible to me in the beginning.

How has the Library helped shaped your experiences and motivated you to pursue opportunities?

I am very grateful to the Library and all that it has done for me. The customers have given me a sense of purpose every time they ask for my help. It warms my heart, especially during the children’s activities, to know I’m the reason for these kids’ smiles and laughter. Peer volunteers have given me the chance to be youthful since I study most of my time and when I volunteer along with them, we simply get to talk and connect with one another. The library staff has encouraged me to keep going and it assures me knowing that they believe in me. My experiences at the Library have encouraged me and taught me that I am capable of leading and representing a group of people regardless of my age. These experiences have given me more self-confidence and motivated me to pursue opportunities that might otherwise seem too difficult, competitive, or out of my reach. I truly appreciate all that I’ve learned and experienced at the Library.

Are you a teen or do you know a teen who would like to get involved at the Library?