2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Marion County Library System

Graphic reading "TEEN TECH" with media equipment in background.

Some Background Info
Our Teen Tech program had six scheduled meeting times, each lasting one hour. Originally, we had intended to make a short documentary-style video telling the stories of our small community and of its strength and resilience following two major flooding events. In doing so, we hoped to provide teens with the opportunity to work with technology they may not have access to without the assistance of the library. Through this, we hoped they would gain problem solving skills and become reacquainted with the offerings of the library.

Getting Started
Before our program, we contacted another library system –experienced in doing videography with teens—to gather information on which equipment we would need. We also collaborated with our city’s municipal government, and met with the city administrators on several occasions, discussing possible ways they could help with our summer programs. At times, we felt like we may have been asking for too much, but the city’s administration was more than happy to grant any and all requests we had of them. Through trial and error, we discovered that some of the equipment we had ordered needed add-ons to function as intended. The municipal government supplemented the equipment we had purchased with grant funds. The city administrators truly exceeded our expectations!

The Best Laid Plans…
Our plan was to divide the teens into teams and alternate times recording interviews of local people and editing the footage, so we would always have someone using the camera and learning the software. The first day, we had enough teens show up that this would have been possible. The next week, however, only two teens showed up. With the small number of attendees, we gauged that it would not be feasible to proceed as originally planned.  Instead, we decided to make a movie trailer-style promotional video for our library.

Because we only had two consistent attendees, every week we feared that nobody would show up and our program would be a complete failure.  To our surprise, we learned that low attendance does not necessarily indicate the program is doomed. Additionally, we learned that even though we are in a very economically disadvantaged location, some of the schools have camera equipment, so the teens had already been exposed to professional videography tools. Because of this, the teens were able to work collaboratively and give each other insight on angles, lighting, and video editing.

In Conclusion
Although only a couple of teens saw the project through to the end, they worked diligently to ensure their project got completed. (I must admit, though, we underestimated the amount of time it would take to edit the footage and condense it into a cohesive video. We wound up asking the teens to come back on unscheduled days to work with us on the project, to ensure it would be completed.) The teens and their families were excited to see their project in its final form. Once we uploaded the video to YouTube and posted it to Facebook, we saw that many of the family members and community members shared it and there was a positive buzz in the community.

This project has reaffirmed in my soul that we should never underestimate our power as a small community. We had a small turnout, but we accomplished big things. Though our small, rural community is poor, we are all willing to work together and pool resources to ensure that our children are learning and growing, in spite of hardship. In this way, we told the story of our community’s strength and resilience.

 

Ashley Hall is the new Youth Services Librarian at Marion County Library System in Marion, South Carolina.

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