Bios of Our CareersLeeAnn is the Teen Services Coordinator at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) and The Pittsburgh District Library Center. She leads a team of dynamic Teen Specialists in engaging teens in public libraries throughout the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, working to fulfill teens’ information needs, in addition to supporting their overall development. Prior to this role as Coordinator, LeeAnn was a Children’s and Teen librarian at the CLP – Homewood neighborhood location. She has received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a Children’s Literature Certificate and a master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences, with a K-12 School Library Media Specialist Certification from The University of Pittsburgh.Emily Fear is the Teen Librarian of Sewickley Public Library in Sewickley, PA. Her work with The Labs was part of a summer field placement with CLP Teen Services.Corey Wittig is Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Digital Learning Librarian for Teen Services and program manager for The Labs @ CLP—the library’s teen digital media lab initiative. Corey has worked at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh since graduating from The University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature in 2006. He spent four years in the innovative Teen Department at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main (Oakland) before graduating from Pitt’s School of Information Science with a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science. Since then, he’s worked on designing and implementing The Labs, a system-wide network of four digital media labs, housed within four CLP locations and strategically located around the city of Pittsburgh. For his work designing The Labs, Corey was named an innovator and Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2012.
Established in 1895, Andrew Carnegie provided the seed money to build the library facilities; but he did not leave an endowment for their ongoing operations and maintenance. Our 19 neighborhood locations work to engage our community in literacy and learning, and it’s now apparent how much the community values it’s library. After a funding scare in 2009, that included the decision to close library branches, the community shouted a resounding “no!”. Not only did they shout but, in 2011, over 70% of the citizens of Pittsburgh voted to pass a dedicated real estate tax to come directly to the library. The roughly $3 million this tax will net the library per year will help us keep our doors open. To thank the community, in 2012, we reinstated hours that had been previously cut. More hours meant more staff needed to cover the locations and several branch managers decided to make their new staff Teen Services focused. The increased staff in 2012 brought about an increased ability for us to engage our teen patrons – and our programming and outreach numbers soared.
A digital learning initiative for teens is an idea library staff and local stakeholders had been kicking around for several years. When Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center was brought on to help develop Chicago’s YOUMedia space, they used our Teen Department at our Main Library as a model. Despite local passion and desire to make real digital learning in Pittsburgh’s libraries, the infrastructure wasn’t available to make that dream a reality – yet.When I was hired in late 2010, my first order of business was to hire a Digital Learning Librarian for Teen Services, funded by the Grable Foundation, who would then develop the narrative for a Institute of Museum and Library Services Learning Labs grant. The interview process was quite interesting, considering the innovative nature of this position. “Digital Learning Librarian” wasn’t exactly a track in library school and so I was very excited to see what our candidates brought to the table. For the interview, they were given an assignment – “You have the opportunity to obtain $2,000 to implement a creative system-wide program for teens involving digital technology, however you must submit a proposal. Please put together a three minute presentation and a written document outlining how you would plan, advertise, and implement your program, keeping in mind the library’s mission to engage our community in literacy and learning.”“Your Pittsburgh is a system-wide technology program for teens. Using tools present in or supplied by the library (photography, video, Web 2.0 applications), teens will be encouraged to document their Pittsburgh experience and share it on the Your PittsburghTumblr. From a simple cellphone video of a walk to the bus, or a photograph of a church carnival, to a slice-of-life poem, teens will be given the chance to express themselves while creating content and making connections.”And, man, did we ever choose correctly. Corey has been absolutely critical to the creation of the program, and was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2012._________________________________________________________________________________LA - Wanting to bring it here (local support) but climate at the time was limitingGrable Foundation SupportHiring on CWInterview process / assignment candidates were given
So, it was then Corey’s primary responsibility to develop a narrative to support our future grant applications for The Labs. I will let him talk about that in depth in a moment, but I just want to say how important it is for us to always remember to, any time we can, justify our work via research – especially when we’re seeking funding.Like many public libraries in the nation, we look to the innovative research from The Search Institute, which provides leadership, knowledge, and resources to promote healthy children, youth, and communities. Their research has resulted in the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents, which details the qualities and experiences young people need to be exposed to in order to succeed, things like knowing they have adult role models who are not teachers or parents, that they read for pleasure, and know they are seen as a resource in their community. Luckily, at the library, we can provide these kinds of experiences through simply providing access – but also by providing staff who’s job it is to connect with teens and develop programs and services based on what they say their needs are. We were able, in 2011, to conduct a Teen Impact Study to help us guide our vision. We surveyed over 1,000 middle school students in the city of Pittsburgh to find out what they want from their library. We learned many things. Most importantly, though, we learned:79% of users and 58% of nonusers want to hang out in the library in their own space – this is evident by the popularity of the teen space here at the Main Library and what we saw in our travels to the west coast88% of students believed you need to be quiet in the library – this is particularly troubling because of adolescent brain development, which tells us teens are physically unable to regulate their volume. If they see the library as a place they need to be quiet in, and they physically cannot be quiet, then they must reason they do not belong here. If you have the capacity to conduct any kind of impact survey on the teens in your community – it could do wonders in helping to support your grant applications.Another important tool to consider is the American Association of School Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner. These standards hinge on things like the importance of equitable access to information, that technology skills are crucial for future employment needs, that inquiry provides a framework for learning, and that reading is a window to the world.CW - Nature of Pittsburgh’s topography and effect it had on the program designAs mentioned in my bio, I worked in CLP-Main’s Teen Department for four years before I became DLL. During that time, I read about YOUmedia and was vaguely aware that something akin to that groundbreaking program might be coming to CLP. When I came to the role of Digital Learning Librarian I knew that time had come, but figuring out how best to implement such a program in Pittsburgh was still quite a challenge. As a librarian, the grateful repatriation of others’ programming ideas wasn’t new to me, so I set to work figuring out how best to bring the research and artistry of YOUmedia to Pittsburgh. First, I realized we already had two thirds of a YOUmedia space in our innovative Main library Teen Department. In fact, Dr. Drew Davidson of Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center used our Teen Dept. as an inspiration for the initial design of YOUmedia. What were we missing? First, and most importantly, we needed mentors—professionals (librarians, artists, and other youth advocates) who guide youth through learning with digital media. Without writing staff into the grant as an integral piece of the puzzle, I knew the program was never going to work.Secondly, I had to figure out how to create a system-wide program in a city with dozens of neighborhoods isolated by poor public transportation, three rivers, and innumerable hills and other difficult topographical features. During my time in the Main-Teen Dept. I performed a lot of outreach and many times teens told me they couldn’t make it to the teen dept—it was too far for them to travel. The next level of teen programming had to come to them.Ultimately, LeeAnn and I were able to identify four CLP locations that would be ideal. They are pretty evenly spread around the city (two in the east end of the city, one on Pittsburgh’s Northside and one on Pittsburgh’s Southside). No library location is more than four miles from a Labs location. We had to also consider libraries that could house such a program (the equipment, etc.). And, finally, we wanted to be sure that these Labs locations were in or bordering neighborhoods with a large amount of low-income youth residents. We were able to accomplish this with census data.CW - Collecting Partners / University of Pittsburgh/ Kidsburgh / Kids + Creativity The DLL position has been supported by The Grable Foundation—a non-profit grantmaker investing in children and youth.Kids + Creativity networkSPARK Hive program planned (only the 3rd city)Pittfalls - Bad partners/good partners. Be careful.Partnership for sustainabilityIMLS round 3Filmmakers Youth Media ProgramHear MeHip-Hop on L.O.C.K.Etc.IMLS round 1 and Heinz
LA and CW - Hiring Mentors processOnce we were awarded funding from the Heinz Endowments for two years, we were able to hire our mentors. Hiring the Labs mentors was an extremely exciting prospect. We had been doing a lot of hiring that year for Teen Specialists, but these mentors were different. We needed artists, musicians, folks who knew how to use all the state of the art equipment we were about to purchase. While these staff members never had to step foot in the library, they did need to have a desire (and previous experience a plus!) to work with teens in an urban informal learning environment. In addition, they needed to exhibit some other qualifications that were atypical for the library environment, including Background in at least two of the following: film-making, photography, musicianship, graphic design/digital art, and computer programming;Proficient skills in creating digital media using at least two of the following (or comparable software): Adobe Creative Suite, iMovie, GarageBand, or Scratch.CW - Deciding what equipment to purchaseCory Garfin (YOUmedia and ETC)TACAll 4 Labs have the same stuff.iPads as a first step (http://appitic.com/)Equipment sheets using ComicLifeIf you can buy it to last!Now that we have the staff hired and the equipment purchased, it was critical that we gained buy in from the branch managers. If your organization has a strategic plan or goals that you set out to accomplish yearly, take a look at them and use them to justify your project. Pull in your results from the teen impact study, showing staff that their customers want this service. When Corey and I presented to the branch managers, we kept it very casual and low key and simply explained how The Labs were going to fit into our overall vision for serving teens in our libraries.
CW and EF - Creation of policies and badge system TAC meeting and policies from YOUmedia sign, adjusting them to our policies, et c.– YOUMedia and HOMAGO (HOMAGO is short for hanging out, messing around, geeking out (the stages of self-directed learning).Professor Mizuko Ito and colleagues learned from interviewing and observing more than 700 youth. From those interviews, they identified three stages of learning that kids progress through with digital media. (youmedia.org)Check out the YOUmedia site for getting started tips, etc.CW - Monthly workshops focused on a themeBadges – gamification, leveling upSummer dreamers, programs w/ partners, etc.--- all to help us figure out how to program when the launch came.
CW – CommercialThis came after our first month of featured programming.
After leading a workshop for school librarians in the area, I was approached by a woman who wanted to set up a meeting to discuss a project her daughter – a library school student in Wisconsin – was working on. When I met with her and her daughter, it was clear to me that this young lady had passion for the very thing we were trying to start in the library – giving our patrons opportunities to create and innovate in our libraries. It was after this meeting that we were brought into the Library as Incubator project – a blog that works to chronicle experiences of libraries who leverage artists in their communities to engage patrons. After discussing it with Corey and Emily, we set up a schedule to blog about the creation of the Labs – which I’ll let Emily talk about further now.Six-part guest blogging series following the development of The Labs from its original conception to the Launch Party in SeptemberProvided a detailed narrative for The Labs that:Promoted Labs services and programs to the general publicEducated other library professionals on the processes involved in setting up digital learning initiatives
Izzy & ZackGiveawaysPartners – support!
CW - IMLS round 2CW - Tweaks thus far and where we’re going nowEquipment checkoutWire shelvingPrint materialsMore future partnershipsSaturday programming2 mentors at a programLabs kitsStaff trainings
1. Creating a Digital Learning Lab Makerspace Initiative for TeensLEEANN ANNA, TEEN SERVICES COORDINATORCOREY WITTIG, DIGITAL LEARNING LIBRARIANEMILY FEAR, TEEN LIBRARIAN, SEWICKLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY
2. Who We AreLeeAnn AnnaTeen Services Coordinator` Emily Fear Teen Librarian Sewickley Public Library CoreyWittig Digital Learning
3. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh –Ripe for Experimentation
4. From Humble Beginnings… Your Pittsburgh – Corey’s interview presentation was a neighborhood- centered digital storytelling program.