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Carnegie Library teen space: ‘Tell us what comes next’

January30/ 2014

Carnegie Library Teen Space

A year after receiving $1.5 million from the Cindy and Murry Gerber Foundation to create a new teen space at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny branch, use of the space has exceeded expectations.

“Our goal for last year was to reach 500 teens with programs in-house,” says the library’s Teen Service Coordinator LeeAnn Anna, “and we reached 3,720.” New features of the space include a digital learning lab and a music instrument library.

A new full-time teen librarian and library assistant were hired a year ago, and the new teen space opened in November 2013 with “on-demand gaming” every day after school – “obviously a way just to get the kids in the door,” says Anna.

But the space soon added Thursday night sessions where kids can put new technologies to use for their own projects, such as making podcasts, laying down a rap and a beat, or trying Photoshop. The library wanted, Anna says, “to be able to give teens the chance to come in and not just be passive consumers of information but to take the information and create something and make a mark on their world.”

Career and job preparation will be another emphasis of programming in the space, beginning with a free SAT prep workshop on Feb. 1, and homework help every Wednesday after school.

This spring, a teen reading lounge or “experiential book club” will offer kids a real-world experience along with their reading of, for starters, graphic novels.

Carnegie Library Teen Space Expansion

The Carnegie Library will be building a similarly equipped new teen space in the East Liberty branch with these grant monies this year.

The value of such spaces, Anna says, “is making sure the kids know the resources in their communities. Librarians are resource people. We make connections.”

As for their future: “For now, it’s important for us to develop this rapport with the kids, so they’re the ones telling us what comes next.”

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: LeeAnn Anna, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh