Northside Library has hosted many events for teenagers: Cupcake Wars, Teen Chopped Champions, a Boba drink making lesson, Dr. Who Day, Star Wars Day, and a recent diversity program spotlighting the LGBT community after the recent Orlando nightclub shootings. The brains behind these programs and more is Angela Ocana, librarian and recent winner of the California Library Association’s Young Adult Services Award.
“I was nominated by teens who attend the Northside Library and branch manager Cheryl Lee,” says Ocana, blown away by the honor. “BAYA, which stands for Bay Area Young Adult Librarians, gives this award of achievement to recognize the accomplishments of an exceptional librarian working in young adult services in a school or public library. The award comes with $500 and a one-year membership into BAYA. I will get recognized at a California Library Association meeting at Sacramento in November.”
Ocana, a former Wilcox High School student, recalls being a quiet kid and an avid reader during her teen years. Back then she was a frequent library patron, though too shy to participate in teen programs. Ocana went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in History at Santa Clara University and a master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences at San Jose State University. Today Ocana’s outgoing and witty presence lights up on her well-attended library programs.
“Giving teens their own space, providing dynamic programming, and just being a mentor is very important,” Ocana says. “My biggest philosophy about working with teens is just to listen to what they are saying and to provide a safe environment for them to be themselves.”
Ocana has been overseeing Northside Library’s new teen library council, consisting of about 20 members. At meetings, teens give input on upcoming programs.
“For example, teens from the library council came up with the idea for the epic Nerf wars at the teen blacklight party in May and they helped set this up,” Ocana says. “The blacklight party came with blacking out the room, and there were glow sticks, and glow-in-the-dark face and nail painting. We sprayed the Nerf bullets with glow paint and put them into Nerf guns, also sprayed with glow paint, and we played Capture the Flag.”
Ocana has also headed programs for adults at Northside Library, such as a lecture on craft liquor, a feng shui workshop, and a Jane Austen-themed tea party. At Central Park Library, Ocana worked on this year’s STEM Innovation Bowl and in a previous year, she organized Sustainable U, a program that encouraged simpler living with offerings such as a seed library and workshops on bread making, cooking seafood and gardening.
Later this summer, Ocana will be headed down to San Diego to attend Comic Con International where she will take notes on how to help prepare for Santa Clara City Library’s Comic Con, to be held at Central Park Library on Sept. 24.