Erin Durrett, Youth/Teen Information Services Librarian at Novi Public Library in Michigan, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President’s Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. She will advocate for a 3D virtual world created by teens in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA,, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

We wanted to catch up with Erin before she heads to San Francisco for ALA’s Annual Conference.

YALSA Shark Bowl: Meet the Finalist Erin Durrett

RK: What was your inspiration for this project?

ED: Novi is a community that very much strives for achievement, be that excellence in academia, or other interests. When developing programs and services for our community, we often think about what skills our patrons would like to learn and what would help them feel more involved in our library and ultimately our community. I wanted to create a project that joined those ideas together. My pitch involves STEM ideas, especially engineering and technology skills and having teens learn those skills and then utilize them in the creation of an interactive display in which they curate and of which they feel ownership.

RK: In what ways are teens involved in this project?

ED: When I developed the idea, I wanted to know not only if our teens would be interested in participating, but any feedback I could receive from them, to help mold and shape the project. I went to the next TAB (Teen Advisory Board) meeting and asked the teens directly what they thought of the idea. They thought it was “cool” and brought up the idea of legacy and ownership. Specifically one teen asked “Can we put our names on the pieces we create?” As a lot of TAB members are juniors and seniors at the high school next door, they want to be able to come back and visit the display and point out the pieces they have created. (They also smartly mentioned making sure no one abuses the 3D printer!) My favorite aspect of this pitch is the inclusivity for teens, if you are a teen 12-18 in Novi or the surrounding community, you can participate in the creation of a piece for the display.

RK:How is your community involved in this project?

ED: Once the case is on display, I have hopes that it will become a fixture in the Novi community, and like our Race Car in our Youth Department, it will be a highlight and something people drop into the library just to see. The interests of the community will undoubtedly be represented in the display itself. The library also plans on incorporating the 3D printer in programming for all ages and having it available for public use.

RK: What are you updating/changing about your pitch as you get ready for the Shark Bowl at Annual conference?

ED: I am working on fine-tuning the ideas and logistics of the project for the Shark Bowl pitch including how we measure the success of such a project. I am looking at this proposal more like a grant proposal and plan to incorporate a budget. I have a good foundation, but also need to express to YALSA how this project meets their aims and goals.

RK: What are you most excited about in getting ready for Shark Bowl?

ED: I am most looking forward to expanding my knowledge about how 3D objects are designed and how those designs will fit together in this display. I am also excited by the challenge of finding a fun, vibrant, ear catching way to pitch my proposal to the Sharks.

Learn more about YALSA Shark Bowl and don’t forget to attend the YALSA President’s Program on June 29th from 10:30 to Noon to see the sharks and the pitches live.

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