Immanuel Hargrave’s Library story started in 2011 while he was still in middle school. His friend introduced him to the Library by inviting him to Manga Café
at Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.
“When you think of the Library, you don’t normally think of a place for teens to hang out, play games watch anime and do arts and crafts,” Immanuel explained. “At first, I was skeptical. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found out that it was true. It was like a paradise. No one judged you for being unique and everyone accepted you for who you are.”
Immanuel would go on to play a vital role at the Library. Here we often see kids come in and stay all day — and they’re hungry. We began providing quick meals during different programs and that’s when we discovered that cooking is one of Immanuel’s passions.
“He can take sparse materials and turn them into a delicious meal,” explained Librarian Louise Lalonde. “He would even come in with a cake for patrons on their birthday.”
Now, after six years, Immanuel is taking what he learned with him to college where he plans to study to be a chef.
“It’s hard to put into words how much we are going to miss Immanuel,” said Louise. “He is a great kid — and just wanted to help. He is one of the most kind-hearted, giving people I have ever met. He was protective of the little ones and motivated others to pitch in and take ownership of the Library. Immanuel became the face of the Library.”
The fact that Immanuel commuted from Vacaville to spend his time with us never stopped him. Oftentimes, he would come in and hang out on the off-chance that he’d be able to help out. Over the years he expanded into helping with storytimes, book sales and spelling bees. He even acted as Otterby, the Library’s mascot.
On his way out, we asked him to summarize his experience with us.
“I met great people and made a lot of friends,” he said. “Martin Luther King Jr. Library is not just a library — it’s a family.”
Learn more about becoming a teen volunteer at the Library
or joining us for Manga Café