In 2012 the Teen Advisory Board received a grant from the Nebraska Library Commission (NLC) of $1,900 to start a Teen Media Club to give teens a chance to learn how to create digital content. Many of my teens do not have access to basic technologies. The library’s computer lab does not have filters so you must be 17 to enter which means that our community’s teens that do not have access to computers outside of school can’t even use the library’s resources. Many of my teens do not have Internet at home, have outdated computers that seem to freeze all the time and not connect to the library’s wireless, and many do not have smartphones.
The goal of Media Club was to use technology to enable teens to create such things as book trailers and the creation and maintenance of a teen library website. The original NLC grant funds were used to purchase an HD Digital Recorder, a laptop for the teens, and various props for their videos. While there still is a lot of interest in Media Club we realized that just having a camera and a laptop was not enough. As we went about beginning to create, draft, and record various video projects we learned that we really need certain other tech equipment to properly be able to run our club. We discovered this after a large-scale project (La Vista’s Next Top Project Snazz Maszter—a “reality” show cross between America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway) which we filmed during a 17-hour lock-in (filming all 17 hours!) and discovered afterward that a lot of the film was unusable. Our library has 20-foot ceilings and the sound on most of our film was barely audible because of echoes. We also realized free film editing software can’t do things like green screen effects. The teens decided they wanted me to apply for a YALSA/Best Buy Teen Tech Week grant for funds to be used toward the purchase of the additional equipment we need to get Media Club properly equipped and off the ground again.
We are using the funds as a launching point for the new and improved Media Club. One of their large-scale goals they are planning to do for TTW is the creation of a sketch show a la Kids in the Hall. During TTW we plan to offer programs that range from a workshop for the teens to brainstorm their sketches and work with groups, a time to rehearse, a time to learn how to use the filming equipment, a time to do the actual filming, and a time to learn to use editing equipment, and then time to edit the film together. The great thing is that this is not just a one-time only program where the funds will be used and the equipment expended. As a re-launching point of Media Club, we have been given the ability to revive interest in Media Club and actually get it off the ground this time and continue it (whether through more sketch show “episodes” in the future or better book trailers and other digital programs) indefinitely.
Many of my teens have gotten their first experiences with film creation equipment at Media Club. Their teachers are now requiring mandatory exercises that need access to smartphones, laptops, and film making equipment that the teens do not have access to outside of the classroom. With our Media Club they not only get to learn how to build and maintain a teen library website, but also how to use the HD camera, how to film digital content, and how to edit it into something watchable. We also recently started a Teen Makerspace, and the teens are interested in the possibilities of incorporating the digital content creation of 3-D printing with possible filming opportunities.
Media Club is using the YALSA Best Buy Teen Tech Week grant funds for the purchase of a high-quality green screen kit (with lighting), a high-quality boom mic kit, professional video editing software, a tripod for our camera, and, if we have any funds left over, additional props for their videos.
You can see some of the videos that the teens have created in the past on our YouTube Channel, TheTabblerTeens, here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheTabblerTeens/videos?view=0
I highly recommend our “Dinosaur Book Trailers” of which we have filmed six so far. Now that we have been awarded a TTW grant we know there will be more videos for us in our future!
Lindsey Tomsu has been the Teen Coordinator of the La Vista Public Library since 2009. Lindsey and her dedicated Teen Advisory Board members have brought in more than $10,000 in grant funds over the years to make the La Vista teen program one of the most active in the area. Their overall goal is world domination—in a nice way of course!