After reading through the “Infinite Learning” module I was extremely excited and ideas were coming at me left and right! I was very impressed with the amount of creativity and learning that involved teens! Incredible is all I have to say, but now with the threat of the IMLS funding being cut, that could mean that there might be less opportunity to get teens into the library and involved.
Here is where the resourceful librarians come in with their creativity and ingenuity! Take for example my library system. As I mentioned in the last blog post, the shared-use branch at the high school has a program for teens called “Sultans of Rock” where teens can come after school and rock out with their instruments, sort of like a garage band but in the library! Now we also have a digital media lab at our main branch that is basically for adults only, so it doesn’t get used as much as it could. Why not ship that equipment down to the shared use facility so teens can make videos using the green screen, record their music, or create podcasts for projects, it would be incredible!! I was really impressed with Chicago Public Library’s program YOUmedia and not only were the teens very involved and proud of their accomplishments, but the staff was also really involved and it showed by the amount of resources they offered which included mentors, author events, library workshops, performances, materials and technology/digital opportunities. This was what led me to the idea of transferring the digital media lab so teens could become more involved and stay after school to do something they are actually interested in. Or we could keep the lab at the main branch but add the “Sultans of Rock” program to the teen programming there and allow the teens to use the digital media lab to record and create videos. We could provide an environment of learning and give them the freedom to create, and when you give teens respect and responsibility they understand and appreciate that. I know at the main branch, there are more inner city teens, so the program could really be beneficial for them and eye-opening for the staff.
Don’t count out senior citizens in the learning department! Most of senior patrons have the most interesting questions and a lot of them are proficient with their smart phones, e-book devices, and tablets. Two of my favorite patrons are in their 90’s and neither one has slowed down, anytime they hear about something new they immediately read up on the subject and always ask the librarians and staff where they can find more information. This is definitely how I want to be at 90+! This last year at my branch we received a grant and began offering the Senior Makers programs that involved coding, building robots, designing decals with image editors, and my favorite- making gingerbread houses with LED lights using a basic sensing circuit (with their grandkids), just to name a few. Like Tommy Stanton of CPL Maker’s Lab said “adults hear about technology but they don’t think it’s for them, the maker lab allows adults to get exposed to tech so they don’t feel left behind.” On the other end of the spectrum we have seniors that don’t know much about technology and many have requested computer classes, unfortunately the library is not allowed to offer free classes that the city offers for a fee (boo!). However, we do offer digital download/e-Reader classes which are well attended at each of our branches every week.
This just proves how invaluable the library is for every age group and how the environment really cultivates life-long learning. We as future librarians must continue to provide unexpected and infinite learning opportunities for our library communities by being lifelong learners ourselves.