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Talk by Justin Hoenke, Teen Librarian, Portland (ME) Public Library
Justin says that teens don’t check out as many materials from the library as adults, they prefer to stream or download media. He feels that the library’s future is not in ebooks, but in making and collecting stuff with patrons. The future is all about the creative economy, so we should encourage creativity, learning and growing, not just consumption. Libraries should be about local collections--when you give people tools to make things, they want their stuff to be seen or heard.
Skokie Public Library is one he commends for their digital media lab. It has a green screen for special effects and staff are trained in helping patrons with technology one-on-one.
Some of the programs that Justin has done:
- Envisioning Your Own Video Game--instead of taking a technological approach, he thought of it as a form of storytelling. Teens brainstormed plots, stories, and characters, then put them up on Google Docs. No specialized knowledge required!
- Making Music in the Library--a local hip-hop artist set up 8-track recording in study rooms and created songs with teens over 4 weeks.
- Making Art with Teens --the library partnered with the Maine College of Art for a teen intership. The art will live at the library forever!
- The Ladies Letter Writing Society (latter expanded to other genders due to popular demand).
Portland Public Library also lends iPod Touches with creative apps for movies, art and music (Garageband, iMovie, Instagram, etc.) pre-installed. The iPods can be set up to block additional app downloads, purchases, Internet browsing, etc.
Tips from Justin:
- Invest in creative spaces and tools.
- Invest in creative employees.
- There are people in the community who know all this stuff.
- Sometimes teens just want free wifi and someone to talk to, and that’s OK. Just listening to them makes their day --then they want to come back to the library. Once you get to know them, you can chat informally about subjects such as Internet privacy that are important, but not so exciting.
- Don't worry too much about toys being damaged.
- Recruit teens to help w/tech support.
- Don't use the economy as an excuse not to do something!
And from the participants’ chat discussion: “Get to know your IT guys. Be nice to them. They're people too. Bring them some cookies.”
A recording of the webinar is available here (fast forward to 1:15 in the recording), and slides are available here.