OC Librarian Offers Teens Fun and Learning
By Maddy Vitale
OCEAN CITY – Sara Bruesehoff wanted to pursue a career in education. The 32-year-old Mays Landing resident spent a year teaching in South Korea. But she soon realized while she wanted to work with kids she wanted to be a mentor rather than an authority figure.
She found the perfect job and it has not only made her happy but it helps young adults forge memories and bonds at the Ocean City Free Public Library. She was hired full time in 2011 and is the Youth Services librarian and has her graduate degree in library science. She spends her days reading with teens or doing various events with the teens such as the Young Adult Book Club, Manga/Anime Club, after school movies, crafts and a teen advisory group Connect.
“Some of the kids I met when they were in the fifth and sixth grades,” Bruesehoff said during a recent interview at the library, 1735 Simpson Ave. “I had a girl come to the Young Adult events from 8th grade through senior year. Now she is a sophomore in college and still comes in to say hi.”
James Mann, 18, of Upper Township, graduated from Ocean City High School last year. He enjoyed the events offered by Bruesehoff and the Ocean City library so much, that he works as a library assistant.
“Sara is a person you look up to,” Mann said. “It started for me junior year. I liked the Manga and Anime books so I joined the book club. It’s a lot of fun. People come with different perspectives. It is always interesting.”
Mann is saving up money and hopes to go to college soon to possibly become a librarian.
“I come from a broken home. Escaping to a good book is a healthy way to avoid your reality,” Mann said. “The library is a healthy, safe, environment.”
Adam Hubbi, 16, and friend Sadie Degennaro, 16, both from Upper Township and juniors at Ocean City High School, said they have a lot of fun at the events and clubs for young adults offered at the library.
“Well, I told Sadie there was a club at the library. We do stage crew and it is just a nice change of tone and pace,” Hubbi said. “I could take it slow here and relax.”
Hubbi said a lot of times Bruesehoff will bring up a subject and it starts an interesting discussion from novels they have read, to politics and current events.
“For me, being at the library is relaxing and a lot of fun,” Degennaro said.
Sean Walsh, 15, a sophomore, of Ocean City, and an Ocean City High School student brought a vintage record album with a 1972 cover on it. He said he enjoys the talks sparked often by the Youth Services librarian, which is why he has been coming every week for the past few years.
Some young adults are involved in the Manga/Anime Club, Japanese graphic novels that tell classic stories such as “The Scarlet Letter” in a slightly different way and comic books.
“Kids learn all about different cultures and customs and foods,” Bruesehoff said. “That is what is so fun about the books. They learn a bit about so many things.”
Bruesehoff creates a list of books for the students to pick from to read and discuss. Some of the topics are fun, in addition to the classics, there are the adventures and science fiction books, but there are also real-life issues ranging from suicide and racism to LGBT issues.
On a busy day, there could be as many as 15 teens in Bruesehoff’s section, which is why, she said, there are plans to expand the young adult section.
Sometimes the young adults who take time after school to head to the library and chat with other avid readers, just go for the conversation, snacks and watch movies, a favorite event for the teens.
Bruesehoff said many libraries offer events for young adults but Ocean City is fortunate to have funding for a very good program and added that anyone wishing to attend any library event is welcome to do so.
She added about her program, “I love it. We just have a good time.”