Over the past three years I’ve been in on the work of Hennepin County Library’s Media Mashup project (an IMLS funded project) which focused on bringing technology to teens in public libraries around the United States. The project used the Scratch software program (Scratch project example below) as the entree point for librarians to integrate tech into their services. And, it looked at the ways in which Scratch was integrated in order to better understand challenges and successes when innovating in libraries.
Learn more about this Scratch project

If you aren’t familiar with Scratch it’s definitely worth checking out. The software enables teens, or anyone, to create almost anything – games, music videos, digital stories, and more. At the moment Scratch is a software that needs to be downloaded onto a computer. That actually is one of the barriers that libraries sometimes face when using new technologies and in integrating technology into teen programs and services. The libraries around the country that participated in the Media Mashup project did find that in some cases downloading was a barrier to being able to move forward. Sometimes librarians had to be innovative and creative in bringing Scratch to computers. Perhaps one of the best solutions was getting laptops for the library. Scratch was then more easily integrated into teen programs using the laptops instead of the traditional library computers.

An important component of the Media Mashup project was looking at how use of Scratch by young people helped in 21st century skill acquisition. Scratch is a good software to use when focusing on 21st century skills because so many skill areas can be integrated into formal and informal Scratch programs.

Use of Scratch definitely supports media literacy as teens create content that can include still and animated images, music, text, and audio. As teens create Scratch projects they acquire information literacy skills when they consider how to incorporate visuals and music that might be copyright protected. And, as teens work with Scratch they learn leadership and cooperation skills as they teach each other how the program works.

The possibilities for 21st century skill acquisition with Scratch are pretty high. For librarians to take advantage of the possibilities they need to begin to think about how it can be brought to their libraries. The Media Mashup Ning is a good place to go to get some ideas. The site includes step-by-step plans on how to create with Scratch. It also includes resources that are guides to adding animation and music to Scratch projects as well as covering topics such as copyright and how to integrate discussions of copyright into Scratch library sessions.

A library might try having a Scratch open house and give teens a chance try out the program, teach librarians more about how it works, and come up with ideas for how the library might integrate the software into the work they do with adolescents.

Check out Scratch and Media Mashup. You’ll probably find a lot of ideas to think about and talk about with the teens with whom you work.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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