Beyond the Shelf: Teenagers Triumph at La Jolla/Riford Library

Beyond the Shelf is a monthly column about the activities and people of the La Jolla/Riford Library.

Carla Ayonque traveled from San Ysidro to perform at Teen Open Mic Night at La Jolla/Riford Library. Electric guitar in tow, the 15-year-old took to the stage in front of a community hall filled with teenagers and parents.

“She’s been through so much,” her father said, his eyes filling with tears.

With over 20 pairs of eyes and ears on her, Carla performed a haunting rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” that showcased the range of her soft yet powerful voice. A hush fell over the audience as the music filled the room, and when the song was over, someone shouted “Encore”, increasing the applause. Beaming with pride, the teenage musician laughed as she picked up her guitar to perform again.

Carla Ayonque, 15, played Teen Open Mic Night at the La Jolla Library. At right is Teen Troupe President Arianna Roberts.

(Courtesy of Katia Graham)

Carla had spent the last few months in an intensive therapy program to deal with issues like social anxiety after a dark time in her life. When her therapist suggested she perform at the La Jolla/Riford Library program, she agreed.

Looking back, she is happy to have tried her luck. “It was fun! I had to do it to see if the therapy was working.

The week after Teen Open Mic Night, she was discharged from the therapy clinic with flying colors.

The mother of a 14-year-old freshman at La Jolla High School who attended Open Mic Night was surprised to learn he had recited a poem before she arrived to pick him up.

Other teenagers took turns telling jokes, playing the piano and sharing hilarious parody videos they had created with friends. OK, the library friends from La Jolla also ordered a pizza for them.

Teen Open Mic Night is the brainchild of the La Jolla/Riford Library Teen Troupe. The group meets monthly to inform library programs and generate community service opportunities. Its other flagship program, Pitch Your Passion, spawned the Marine Biology Festival which runs from 3-6 p.m. on Friday, August 12, when the public can stop by the Community Hall to learn about various marine specimens. with adolescent educators.

The members of the Teen Troupe hold their July meeting at the La Jolla/Riford Library.

The members of the Teen Troupe hold their July meeting at the La Jolla/Riford Library.

(Courtesy of Katia Graham)

The teens are also hosting a middle school debate camp in August to prepare students for high school speech and debate.

And because they’re big readers, the Teen Troupers are hosting Percy Jackson Day at the La Jolla Library on Thursday, August 18 (the protagonist’s birthday) in partnership with the Warwick Bookstore. Participants in grades 4-12 can test their knowledge of the demigod series by winning and making mythological bead bracelets for a chance to win one of five shiny new books “Percy Jackson and the Olympians “.

It’s hard to put into words how proud I am of the teenagers at this branch of the library. Led by Teen Troupe President Arianna Roberts, who fosters an inclusive and fun environment, they carry on with unwavering dedication and are unafraid to speak up. After each meeting, they create a timely book display reflecting their values, whether it’s pride, mental health awareness, or multicultural celebration.

When the San Diego Public Library needed 10,000 buttons for the current “Where’s Odi?” system-wide scavenger hunt, they showed up with the local chapter of the National Charity League to create more than 30% of the buttons, according to Scott Ehrig-Burgess of The Library Shop.

Their monthly book club, Teen Book Buzz, is full of lively discussions. It warms my heart to see teenagers having healthy fun in the library.

“The best thing about Teen Troupe is the opportunity to make a difference and make friends from different schools who have similar interests,” Arianna said.

This takeaway, embodied so beautifully by Carla, resonated during Teen Open Mic Night. Teens aren’t alone, especially at the La Jolla/Riford Library. The community is lucky to have them.

Teen Events at La Jolla/Riford Library

  • Middle school debate camp: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. from August 1 to 5 and from August 8 to 12
  • Teen Book Buzz: 2 p.m. Saturday, August 6
  • Teen Troupe meeting: 3 p.m. Saturday, August 6
  • Marine Biology Festival: 3-6 p.m. Friday August 12
  • Percy Jackson Day: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, August 18
  • Teen Open Mic Night: 4 p.m. Saturday, August 20

Katia Graham is the Youth Services Librarian at La Jolla/Riford Library. Students in grades 7-12 are encouraged to register for Teen Troupe by emailing Graham at With the new school year coming up, leadership opportunities will be available.