October 10, 2009
Mayor’s Press Office
Chicago Public Library
MAYOR DALEY AND CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY
OFFER TEENS A DIGITAL MEDIA SPACE
Mayor Richard M. Daley joined the Chicago Public Library at the opening of YOUmedia, an innovative new 21st Century learning space for high school students.
Located at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, YOUmedia connects young adults, books, media and institutions throughout the city, in one dynamic space. YOUmedia is a collaboration between the Chicago Public Library and Digital Youth Network, with generous support provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Pearson Foundation through the Chicago Public Library Foundation. The space was designed by a team of graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center.
“The Chicago Public Library is a vital component of our city’s comprehensive efforts to provide our children with the opportunities and resources needed to ensure that the educational activities are continued after the school day has ended,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley. “YOUMedia will offer Chicago’s teens an opportunity to develop digital technology skills, improve their minds and have a lot of fun at the same time.”
New media such as social networking sites, chat and online discussion forums are changing the way people, especially teens, communicate and learn. YOUmedia supports young adults’ use of digital technology by engaging them in literature-based projects that promote critical thinking, creativity and skill-building.
YOUmedia is home to thousands of books, more than 100 laptop and desktop computers and a variety of media creation tools and software, including a recording studio, which allows teens to express through music and spoken word. Teens in YOUmedia will have the opportunity to attend free workshops, attend book discussions, author events and performances.
YOUmedia also exists beyond the library walls virtually at www.youmediachicago.org – providing an online community where students can create, display and exchange ideas about their work with peers and adult mentors. Youth have the opportunity to create an online portfolio of work that can then be connected to and shared with other teens, institutions and initiatives.
While the focus of the design of YOUmedia has been on supporting youth in out-of-school time, Chicago high school teachers with classes of students are also able to reserve the space for skill-building workshops during the school day.
YOUmedia is based on research supported by the MacArthur Foundation as part of its digital media and learning initiative, which is exploring the role digital media plays in the lives of young people and its implications for education in the 21st century. The research was conducted by Professor Mizuko Ito and colleagues, Living and Learning with Digital Media (2008). This ethnographic study of more than 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 music, documentaries, machinima or robots. They may also be committed writers on fan fiction and anime sites. The researchers found that these online interest-driven activities extend young people’s learning and exploration significantly beyond experiences in school or local community programs.
Based on these findings, YOUmedia was designed along those same three categories:
Hang Out: A relaxed space which allows teens to socialize with friends after school, work on homework assignments, check out books, play games or spend time in online social spaces such as Facebook and MySpace. A performance space offers participants a stage for spoken word pieces or readers’ theater.
Mess Around: Designed to encourage individual exploration or collaboration, the space offers work tables for group projects, as well as Mac and PC desktop computers on which teens can create videos, play games and discover the Library’s collections.
Geek Out: Participants engage in variety of digital media workshops and explore the creation of digital artifacts such as music, documentaries, fan fiction and virtual worlds grounded in the content of books in the Geek Out section of the YOUmedia space. Digital media workshops offered by the Digital Youth Network mentors, include Digital Photography, Fan Fiction, Graphic Design, Digital Video Production, Digital Music Production and WordBuilders Game Design.
The goal of YOUmedia is to support youth in their participation 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. All high school age teens are welcome at YOUmedia. Teens can use YOUmedia technology for free with a valid Chicago Public Library card.
Chicago Public Library, established in 1872, is one of the nation’s premier library systems. The Library serves Chicagoans from its 79 welcoming neighborhood locations, providing rich collections of books, state of the art technology and award-winning literary programs. The Library receives unparalleled and consistent leadership and advocacy from Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Chicago City Council. Working in partnership with the Mayor, Chicago’s elected officials, and the Library’s dedicated Board of Directors, the men and women of the Chicago Public Library have built and opened 52 new libraries since 1989. A strong and vibrant Chicago Public Library reflects how our city values its people. With generous support from the City of Chicago and the philanthropic community through the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the Library plays a pivotal role in supporting the education of our children and the reading enjoyment of adults; bridging the digital divide; and providing all Chicagoans with the resources to enable them to be successful and engaged residents of our city and the world.
The Digital Youth Network (DYN) supports youth in developing new media skills that are personally meaningful and necessary in their interactions with friends and family, at school, after school, and in their communities. DYN is a hybrid digital literacy program that creates opportunities for youth to engage in learning environments that span both school and out-of-school contexts.
The Digital Youth Network model is one that explicitly combines the affordances of the different contexts where youth spend their time into one learning environment that not only develops youth’s new media literacies but also creates meaningful opportunities for youth to use their new media literacies. It is a model for the construction of a new youth-serving institution that is not bounded by walls nor time of day.
The core of the model spans the worlds of school, home, and after-school activities, and provides youth with:
- access and training in the use of new media literacy tools;
- meaningful activities where the development of new medial literacies is essential for accomplishing goals; and
- a continuum of established new media mentors (high school through professionals) who develop students’ technical skills, serve as role models, and provide students access to the communities of practice surrounding technology-based careers.
In its partnership with the Chicago Public Library, DYN will support new ways of activating and exploring themes found in traditional literature through the development of multi media projects and applied technology.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. Through its digital media and learning initiative, the Foundation provides support to researchers and practitioners to better understand how digital media are changing they way young people learn, play, socialize and particpate in civic life. Answers are critical to education and other social institutions that must meet the needs of this and future generations. More information is available at www.macfound.org/education.
Chicago Public Library Foundation was created in 1986 by visionary civic leaders out of the conviction that private resources are essential to keeping Chicago’s outstanding Public Library truly world class. Established in the spirit of public/private partnership with the City, the Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization. In the 23 years since its founding, the Foundation has made grants totaling $34 million to Chicago’s public library.