The Teens Library

December 2, 2016 | By Suzanne Buracas

On November 19, 2016, French artist Fanny de Chaillé presented a unique performance project, The Teens Library, at the NYPL in Washington Heights.

Under the guidance of de Chaillé, students involved in the NYPL Literacy Leaders program, which pairs teen mentors with young children working to develop their reading and literacy skills, played the role of either librarian or “living book”.

The Teens Library is inspired by the idea that anyone can be the author of knowledge and share it with others. 

In the three weeks leading up to the performance, students worked with the artist to pinpoint themes, topics, or personal stories that they would each share to library visitors in intimate one-on-one performance.

Other students, who became librarians, would welcome visitors and present the catalogue of “books” available, including several titles, turning out to be real people.

The Teens Library  is a reminder of the power of storytelling. It brings stories to life and gives a voice to any individual.

Participants shared the following words after the experience:

"I was really touched by the stories I heard and it made me have a new perspective on life."

"I realized that when we work together, united, everything can be better that we think."

"The event was an experience I will never forget. It was one of a lifetime experience that has helped me grow and learn to interact more with people." 


This program was co-presented by the New York Public Library, as part of its program Literacy Leaders, and by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy as part of its program Kids Trail.

Made possible thanks to FACE Foundation, Institut français-Paris, and the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. Major support for after-school programming is provided by Arthur W. Koenig; the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Family Endowment for Young Audiences; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; the Mr. and Mrs. Timothy R. Barakett Endowment for Children's and Young Adult Programs and Services; the E.H.A. Foundation Endowment for Literacy Programming; The Frederick P. & Sandra P. Rose Foundation; The Bok Family Foundation; Booth Ferris Foundation; The New York Life Foundation; The Pinkerton Foundation; News Corp; Con Edison; and The Walt Disney Company, with additional support from the Estate of Brooke Russell Astor and the Estate of Mary McConnell Bailey.