Library Program Sponsor Provides Safe Haven for Teens


Photo by: Contributed by Diana Weaver, Basehor Library

Basehor Library Teen Program sponsor Amy Shaffer help cuts a ribbon at an event at the Basehor Library.

Amy Schaffer is an instrumental piece of Basehor’s community. She’s in charge of the local library’s teen program, and she has a hand in shaping dozens of kids’ futures. Her warm smile and contagious laugh are hard to ignore – not that anyone would want to ignore her in the first place.

Schaffer is a vat of knowledge. This is probably a side effect of working in a library, with thousands of books and pieces of knowledge at her fingertips. There are some people who can’t make knowledge interesting in the slightest. However, when Schaffer speaks, it becomes hard not to listen.

Still, Schaffer didn’t always want to be a librarian. Initially, she wanted to be an actor or a writer. Being a librarian hadn’t even crossed her mind until high school. Now, it’s been 13 1/2 years since Schaffer started working at the Basher Community Library.

She started working there part-time in 2002 and full-time in 2006.  Her favorite thing about working at the library is helping patrons find books to read.

“It’s the best feeling when you have someone come back and tell you how much they loved the book you gave them,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer’s other duties include planning and implementing teen programs, placing book orders for the teen collection, and cataloging.

“I do all the cataloging for the library. That means that every book, DVD, or CD has to pass through my desk to be added to the catalog before it can go out to the public,” she said.

Schaffer is also in charge of the teen program. She spends a lot of time with teenagers from grades 6 to 12. Schaffer said she genuinely enjoys her work.

“Years later, when teens look back to their time at the library, I want to have made a difference in their lives,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer described the current group of teens at the library as “enthusiastic, and a little bit nerdy.”

Years later, when teens look back to their time at the library, I want to have made a difference in their lives.”

— Amy Shaffer

When prominent members of the group were asked to describe themselves, they responded with “chaotic.” Chaotic is a good description, as shown by Schaffer’s story of one of the strangest things that the teenagers have done.

“Over the summer we played life-sized checkers on the front lawn of the library. The teens were the checker pieces. The absolute strangest thing was that every time a teen was jumped and taken out of play, all the other teens began chanting ‘SAC-RI-FICE…SAC-RI-FICE…..SAC-RI-FICE.’ That chant has now become the rallying cry of the teens.”

However, teenagers are still teenagers, and most have short attention spans. “Sometimes they can become a little… distracted, and lose track of what they were supposed to be doing,” Schaffer said about her group. Despite this, Schaffer still has a good relationship with her teenagers.

The real world is full of foul language and negativity, but Schaffer has created a safe haven from all of it.”

— BLHS Senior Alex Teeters

Most of the teenagers who attend the programs are regulars. Schaffer always counts it as an accomplishment when one of the programs brings in a teen that isn’t a regular. “I really want to be able to provide opportunities for teens to get out of the house,” she said.

Schaffer is a great storyteller. It comes as no surprise, then, that dozens of people enjoy listening to her stories. Schaffer said her favorite memory is when a girl and her friend came to the library to listen to her talk about books.

“The two teens then sat down on the ground like they were in story time. But, as I continued to read, more teens walked in the front door and joined the others on the ground. By the time I was done a small crowd of teens had gathered on the floor to listen.”

A lot of people don’t realize how their actions influence the people around them. Schaffer’s nerdiness and ability to flaunt it without being embarrassed has really rubbed off on Mack Grimes, a junior at BLHS.

“I think she taught me not to hide my nerdiness, and that a little narcissism can go a long way,” Grimes said.

“She has influenced me to keep ahold of my childhood innocence. The real world is full of foul language and negativity, but Schaffer has created a safe haven from all of it,” said Alex Teeters, another junior from BLHS. It’s clear that Schaffer has a bigger impact on the kids than was thought.

In a small town with next to nothing to do, Amy Schaffer has provided a safe environment where kids can have fun with people who share common interests. She’s given dozens of kids an escape from the stress of school, work, and their home lives. It’s no wonder why all the teens continue coming back to the library every week.