Libraries are beginning to design special spaces where teens paired with mentors use various digital media for learning and creativity.
"In November 2011, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, made grants of $100,000 to twelve museums and libraries across the country to develop digital learning laboratories for teenagers. They will announce another round of grants in November 2012.Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia
Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia inspired the grant program. It is a special space where teenagers can use equipment provided by the library to create the same sorts of media that they consume. Creativity requires the development of certain skills.
Digital creativity, of course, requires digital skills. But creativity has always required a variety of intellectual, social, and emotional disciplines. The electronic age has not changed that fact at all.
It doesn’t work to plan a new program for a particular constituency and then dictate how it has to work. Development of YOUmedia has required some cultural adjustments. The YOUmedia space cannot enforce traditional library rules about food and noise levels and at the same time maintain a vibrant community of teenagers.
The entire concept of YOUmedia also requires access to and participation of the entire library to make it work. It is not a place for segregating either teenagers or their interests and learning style.
Sooner or later, the library will shape the teenagers’ behavior, but the teenagers will shape the library’s culture at least as much. That will result in short term discomfort and long term continued relevancy for the library as a whole.
Over the years, YOUmedia has started numerous separate projects. Some of them have continued for quite a while. The center has issued a literary magazine for a year and a half and a gaming podcast for three years. The longest-lasting programs have all come from the teenagers’ initiative, not from the library staff."