Outcomes of Teen Tech Week

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Studio 270, the Teen Space's at Gail Borden Public Library & the Winner of YALSA’s Thinking Big about Advocacy Contest

by Christina Stoll, Managing Editor I Love Libraries newsletter

Interview with Billie Jo Moffett, Co-Manager of Studio 270 and Virtual Services Coordinator at Gail Borden Public Library and originally appeared American Libraries March 22, 2011.

Taking a look across the country at what happened during Teen Tech Week March 6-12, 2011, our first stop takes us to a suburb outside of Chicago in Elgin, Illinois.

Teen Tech week was extra special this year at the Gail Borden Public Library, with the opening of their new Teen Space just two months prior. Named Studio 270 for the library's address, the new Teen Space was developed and designed with feedback from the young adult patrons themselves.

Billie Jo Moffett, who manages Studio 270 along with co-manager Melissa Lane and several other staff, provided a tour of the space and shared how it's being used. 

Previously occupied by a conference room and the Literacy Connection which were relocated and expanded on the second floor of the library, the space was redesigned to become the new Teen area.

With four neighboring high schools, the communities of Elgin, South Elgin and portions of Hoffman Estates, Streamwood and Bartlett, which the library serves, are not short of teenagers. After learning that that this demographic was being underserved despite being an important part of the community, a space was just needed in the library, which the teens could call their own.

Focus groups with the teens were conducted, the result of which was the desire for a space that fostered creativity, technology, and fun. The result - a room filled with computers, video screens, a gaming system, collaborative space, a graphic design table and even a stage for performances. Plus, there's a definite sense of fun in the space with its bold use of colors and futuristic looking furniture complete with built in MP3 players.

As the saying goes "if you build it they will come", the teens are coming to Studio 270 and they are bringing their friends.  Teen Tech Week was spread out through the entire month of March with events such as Audio Lab and Video Lab every Tuesday and Thursday night, along with a crafting program, a Saturday spa day and a Wii Sports Tournament. 

Future Teen events can be found on the Gail Borden Public Library Calendar. Or stay connected to what's happening in Studio 270 and the library through Facebook, Twitter, Flicker or YouTube

The impact of the new space has been very positive. Billie reports not only are they seeing more teens, but the space is being well taken care of which shows  the teens honest appreciation of it. 

The library is currently seeking funding for a recording studio to further enhance and extend the space. Upcoming programming for Teens includes a Spring break Video Gaming competition, and later in the summer Teens will have the opportunity to participate in their own Summer Reading program.

When asked what the goal was for the space Billie stated, "To create a space for young adults to try new technology which they might not have access to at school or home, as well as provide a space for collaboration and creativity, and allow kids to feel comfortable trying out new rolls."  And when asked if the goal was being met, the answer was through an example of a request recently from the teens for a karaoke night. Studio 270 is definitely re-defining what library means. 

For additional questions about Studio 270 or any of the Teen activities mentioned, contact Billie Jo Moffett at bmoffett@gailborden.info.

Our second stop during Teen Tech week was to the east coast, with Michele Gorman, teen services director for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, N.C., won the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Thinking Big about Advocacy Contest for a teen video series promoting the library. Gorman receives $500 for her submission. The Friends of YALSA funded the contest.

After the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library endured a 46-percent cut in its operating budget, resulting in branch closures, staff layoffs and a 53-percent reduction in hours of service, teen services staff created the Teen Video Advocacy Project. Armed with Flip Video cameras, teen library users at 20 library branches created 30-second to one-minute videos to share their personal thoughts about why libraries matter and how they have made a difference in their lives. Staff and teen interns chose the best testimonials and edited them into four short videos to demonstrate the importance of keeping library branches open, preserving staff, offering high-interest teen programs and continuing to provide  hours that fit into teens’ schedules, such as evenings and weekends.

The four videos are posted at www.libraryloft.org and will be shared with elected officials, adult community members and a Future of the Library Task Force charged with making library funding sustainable despite the current economic climate.

“This project allowed teens to share their personal thoughts about why libraries matter and how they have made a difference in their lives,” said Gorman. “Winning this contest will allow us to share the teens’ message farther and wider than we might have been able to do without it. More importantly, we are able to share this honor with all of the teens who participated – which I believe sends a strong message to the teens that people are watching, people did take notice and the opinions of local teens do matter during difficult times like these.”

In addition to Gorman, the Thinking Big about Advocacy Task Force selected four entrants as runners-up. Each receives $100 for their efforts. The runners-up are:

  • Jennifer Lara, district director of instructional media centers, O’Fallon Township (Ill.) High School, Vernon A. Ohlendorf Instructional Media Center
  • Darby Wallace, director, Jackson County (Ark.) Library
  • Lynn Silbernagel, middle school librarian, Catlin Gabel School, Portland, Ore.
  • Michael Giller, assistant director of library services, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, S.C.

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos and audio books for teens.  For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists, or contact the YALSA office by phone, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390, or e-mail, yalsa@ala.org.