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Project of the Week: YOUmedia (Chicago Public Library)

It's National Library Week and in honor of that event, I posted another blog entitled "Libraries as Linchpins to #Gov20 and #OpenGov." In addition, I wanted to highlight a sweet project in Chicago that uses libraries as connection point for kids to access the web, inspiring collaboration and creativity. Here's a video and more info straight from their About page. Got something similar going on in your community - connecting not only kids, but people of all ages, to social media? Share below.

YouMedia CPL is an innovative, 21st century learning space, housed at the Harold Washington Library, created to connect young adults, books, media and institutions throughout the city in one dynamic space designed to inspire collaboration and creativity. By working both in teams and individually, young adults will have an opportunity to engage in projects that promote critical thinking, creativity and skill-building.

The design of Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia is based on the research of Professor Mizuko Ito and colleagues, Living and Learning with Digital Media (2008). This ethnographic study of more 700 youth found that youth participate with digital media in three ways:

(1) they “hang out” with friends in social spaces such as Facebook and MySpace
(2) they “mess around” or tinker with digital media, making simple videos, playing online games, or posting pictures in Flickr; and
(3) they “geek out” in online groups that facilitate exploration of their core interests.

In these groups they may, for example, make things like rap music, documentaries, machinima or robots. They may also be committed writers on fan fiction and anime sites. Ito et al found that these online interest-driven activities extend young people’s learning and exploration significantly beyond experiences in school or local community programs.
The goal of YouMedia is to support youth to participate with digital media across all three of these practices. The goal, in time, is to increase substantially the number of youth in Chicago who use online resources and new media as tools to engage in inquiry about their neighborhoods, the city, and the world. The design of the YouMedia learning space will encourage individual and collaborative work and also be a safe and open space where teens can come just to hang-out.
While “hanging out” with friends may be the hook that brings young people into the library, the space is designed to explicitly facilitate the movement of young people into deeper and more complex engagement in learning (i.e., from messing around to geeking out).
YouMedia has been explicitly designed support young people’s movement from hanging out to messing around and ultimately to geeking out with digital media and books. The areas within YouMedia will hold different activities to create a continuum of learning based on ever-changing themes and literature-based curriculum developed by the Library and its partners. Young people will be engaged in making and producing digital artifacts such as hip hop songs, fan fiction, games, and virtual worlds grounded in the content of books.

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