September 16, 2010
MACARTHUR AND IMLS ANNOUNCE PLANS TO CREATE
30 NEW LEARNING LABS AT LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Washington, D.C. – In support of President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” call to action, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) today announced plans to create 30 new youth learning labs in libraries and museums across the country. Inspired by an innovative new teen space at the Chicago Public Library called YOUmedia and innovations in science and technology centers, these labs will help young people become makers and creators of content, rather than just consumers of it. These labs will be based on new research about how young people learn today.
“With digital media, learning takes place anywhere, anytime. So we must break free of the old-fashioned notion that schools are the only places for learning and provide young people with engaging and diverse opportunities beyond the classroom,” said Robert Gallucci, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “YOUmedia is an excellent example of 21st century learning. Bringing the model to other cities will mark an important step in motivating young people to learn and preparing them for a globally competitive workforce.”
With $4 million in funding – $2 million each from MacArthur and IMLS – the two organizations will begin a planning process to launch a national competition to create 30 new learning labs across the country. As the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums, IMLS also will help to increase the capacity of museum and library staff to develop programming based on the most recent research about how young people learn today. Other partners – including the John S. and James L. Knight, C. S. Mott, Pearson, Mozilla and Grable foundations, and the New York and Chicago Community Trusts – will provide additional resources to support the design and construction of the new learning labs.
It is hoped that organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, National 4-H, Maker Faire from O’Reilly Media, FabLab, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will participate as local partners to the libraries and museums as they prepare plans for new, dynamic learning centers that will redefine the purpose of libraries and museums in the 21st century and become hubs for youth engagement, creativity and learning. The competition application process, which will include a request for proposals, will be announced in 2011.
“This partnership helps to advance IMLS efforts to make libraries and museums places for 21st century learning. Projects like YOUmedia are pioneering efforts that use research and evidence to demonstrate how our nation’s libraries and museums can be powerful and innovative spaces for young people’s out-of-school learning,” said Marsha L. Semmel, IMLS Acting Director. “Today these institutions are fueling science learning by tapping young people’s interests, initiative, creativity and collaborative skills. IMLS has long supported research and model demonstration projects that explore the transformation of learning in the digital age. It is exciting to work in partnership to disseminate findings and models throughout the country.”
The MacArthur-IMLS learning labs will be part of a network of museums and libraries throughout the country that use best practice principles, based on research and evidence, to engage youth in effective science, technology, engineering and math education. These new learning labs will be spaces for experimentation that engage young people with both digital and traditional media to promote creativity, critical thinking and hands-on learning. Young people will be engaged in anytime, anywhere access through online social networks so that they can pursue their interests more deeply.
A model for these learning labs, YOUmedia, was supported by MacArthur’s digital media and learning initiative, which aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. The goal is to build a base of evidence about how young people learn today, in an effort to re-imagine learning in the 21st century.
About the 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. More information is available at www.macfound.org.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, visit www.imls.gov.