When the school day ends for Pennsylvania Avenue School eighth-grader Burdies Borders, there is only one place he wants to go: the Atlantic City Free Public Library.
Burdies, 13, is one of many youths who call the library their after-school home, finding fun in its variety of youth offerings.
"I'm here, usually, almost every day," Burdies said. "If I'm not somewhere else doing something else, then I'm here at the library."
Library offers daily programs for kids and teens, among them book clubs, comic drawing workshops and exercise nights. Some programs are one-off, but most are recurring. Programs are free.
Burdies visited the library on Sept. 13 for Gaming Fridays, one of the library's more popular programs, in which kids are invited to play video and board games.
While the educational value of some of the games might not be readily apparent, Youth Services director Maureen Moffit said they nonetheless are good for the kids. Many video games incorporate a lot of text, making them excellent for improving literacy, and multiplayer games give kids an opportunity to learn teamwork.
"Gaming inspires collaboration," Moffit said. "These are life skills they're developing. It stimulates the brain cells. It gets kids working together on projects, and it's very creative."
In addition to their educational value, the games introduce kids to other library services and can help them make friends.
On Sept. 13, Burdies played the Playstation 3 game "Infamous 2" as friend Hunter Boudreaux watched, saying the program has helped him meet other kids his age with whom he shares an interest in gaming.
"It helps you meet new people, because it also helps you make friends with other gamers," he said.
Likewise, the 13-year-old Hunter, who moved to Atlantic City from Maryland two months ago, said the library's programs have helped him make friends.
Both boys are active in other library programs, such as the Teen Advisory Group, which gives members volunteer opportunities in the library as well as a voice in deciding future programs.
Like Burdies, Hunter is often found at the library after school and on weekends. He said its variety of offerings can't be beaten.
"I like to volunteer when there's events. I like the book club," Hunter said. "They have teen coffee house, where you discuss books and poems. It can be yours, it can be anybody else's. They just have a lot of events."
Another of the library's most popular programs is its Fun Day Sunday family craft hour, which many Atlantic City families partake in as an after-church activity, Moffet said. The programs start at 2 p.m. each week.
Contact Braden Campbell:
To learn more
For more information about the Atlantic City Free Public Library's offerings for kids and teens, see acfpl.org or call 609-345-2269.