Norfolk Public Library (NPL) is the “it” place for teens and now it’s the first library system in Virginia to join the YOUmedia network.
YOUmedia provides teens with spaces to explore learning and digital media that they don’t have access to in their homes or at school. Teens can experiment with a wide variety of tools and resources, from books to video editing software and SLR cameras.
“We look forward to increasing digital and technology opportunities for teens in Norfolk by becoming a part of the YOUmedia Network,” states Sonal Rastogi, Director of Libraries. “Staying current on latest trends, learning about new products and programs, as well as participating in webinars and conference sessions with the Network will provide our staff, and ultimately our teens, with great opportunities and advancements.”
With the opening of NPL’s Slover Library in January 2015, a dedicated teen space paved the way for YOUmedia affiliation. The space includes a computer lab, gaming lounge, collaborative study rooms, an informal lounge area as well as a learning commons space. The space is welcoming to teens and is an energetic, creative and dynamic teen hub with twofold benefits: a space that is entirely theirs while also having input in not only how it used, but also the programming that takes place.
Additionally, YOUmedia will be mobile in Norfolk via circulating digital/makerspace kits that will travel between NPL branches outside of Slover. Kits will include video and music production, circuit and microcomputer, virtual reality, and robotics.
The YOUmedia model was developed in 2011 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Grounded in research that demonstrates how young people benefit from community-based learning opportunities to follow their interests with the support of peers and mentors, a network of libraries and museums worked together to create and expand programs that give them the time and space to create work that is meaningful to them. Ultimately, 30 institutions developed YOUmedia model programs, forming a national network of lead institutions. NPL is the first institution to be approved to join the network under its new affiliate program.
According to Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, Executive Director of the National Writing Project, a national non-profit that houses the YOUmedia Network, “YOUmedia Learning Labs are creative, transformative, and dynamic spaces that aim to put Connected Learning into action. Institutions that join the network are looking to be relevant, accessible, and central to the learning lives of teens in their areas.”
The YOUmedia Learning Labs Network, hosted at the National Writing Project, believes that access to high-quality educational experiences is a basic right of all learners and a cornerstone of equity. The Network works in partnership with institutions, organizations, and communities nationally to develop and sustain leadership for educational improvement.