Here is a write-up from the 7th annual Massachusetts Library System Teen Summit

Thank you to Catherine Halpin, Youth Technology Librarian, Teen Central of the Boston Public Library for her help with the post.

For seven years the Massachusetts Library System has offered a wonderful daylong conference opportunity, the Teen Summit for youth services and teen services librarians in the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  The theme this year was Connect the Dots, connected learning.

Crystle Martin, postdoctoral research scholar at the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the University of California, Irvine was the keynote speaker and spoke about her research in connected learning.  Youth learn beyond the classroom yet many struggle to connect the unique and valuable experiences outside of school with more traditional learning pathways.  Libraries and library staff are uniquely situated to support bridging this gap; helping to create personally connected learning environments.  We can meet learners where they are and tap the power of peer to peer learning, seek recognition in the wider world.  What are some ways to see connected learning in action? By using youth expertise, relying on teen mentorship and we can help youth connect their interest with academic and future pathways.
Crystle - Copy

Jessi Snow, the Teen Services Team Leader at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library, spoke about what went into the design of the newly renovated Teen Central  space, including selecting software and hardware, program development, identifying partners, and, most especially, working with teens to help the design the space.

The new space for teens in grades 6-12 opened in February 2015. When creating Teen Central, BPL staff and administration looked at teen spaces across the country, gathered pictures of teen rooms, and got input from teens on what they wanted to see in their space.  HOMAGO is the focus of the new room: hanging out, messing around, and geeking out. The digital makerspace, the Lab, offers creative software including Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, In Design, Flash, Illustrator, and more), 3D software like Autodesk and Sculptris, and the 3D Makerbot printer. Teens can attend programs in the Lab to learn more about the software, or they can use and experiment with the technology on their own whenever Teen Central is open. Teen Central also houses a Media Lounge complete with PS4, Wii U, and Xbox 1 with two 80 inch screen monitors for teens to use.


Shannon Lake, Teen Educator/Librarian, Providence Public Library and Kate Wells, Rhode Island Collection Librarian, Providence Public Library presented on their program, Teen Tech Squad.   Teens met weekly over the course of 9 weeks to work together on their projects. Teens worked directly with historical documents from the Rhode Island Collection that related to their neighborhood of interest.  Cross department collaboration (Special Collections, Teen Services, IT Department) community partner collaboration (Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence Preservation Society, and Brown University Center for Public Humanities).  Applied connected Learning strategies that was teen focused by having teens choose a local neighborhood of interest to them to explore further.  Teens were connected to mentors at the library as well as through staff at partner organizations.  Teens were able to tap into technology tools and new skills as they photographed and edited video on iPads and added content to the project website.

The project allowed them to make, create, and produce for greater understanding of their community. The final project website will aid others in their research of historical Providence and provides increased access to the libraries Special Collections.

The project culminated in a website that highlights the digital neighborhood profiles teens researched and was celebrated at an open house where teens were able to present and share their work in a gallery setting.  The program has continued in new iterations focusing on music and theater venues, and locations around downtown Providence.


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