While “hanging out” with friends may be the hook that brings young people into the library, the YOUmedia space is explicitly designed to facilitate the movement of young people into deeper and more complex engagement in learning with digital media and books. The areas within YOUmedia hold different activities to create a continuum of learning based on ever-changing themes and literature-based curriculum developed by the Chicago Public Library and its partners. Young people become engaged in making and producing digital artifacts such as documentary videos, hip-hop songs, fan fiction, games, and virtual worlds grounded in the content of books.
Hang out: The “hang out” space of YOUmedia is a relaxed, social area where teens can read, talk with friends, check email, and even have food or drinks. It is the landing site and starting point for YOUmedia activity and is designed to be a pressure-free introduction to the technology, resources, workshops, and group projects that will be taking place in other areas of the space.
Mess around: The “mess around” space is the center of independent exploration for those teens who don’t just want to hang out but aren’t ready to commit to a class series. Here, teens have access to laptops for gaming, podcasting mics, digital Flip and still cameras, drawing pads, and more. The goal of the “mess around” space is to give youth the freedom to create and experiment with whatever digital medium interests them.
Geek out: Teens who decide to spend time in the “geek out” space are ready to take their interests to the next level with guided instruction from a media specialist or mentor via workshops and projects. Here, teens will have the opportunity to engage in focused dialogue and collaboration to produce work for public exhibition. Whether a beginner or a more advanced student, young people participating in this space will be challenged, be encouraged, and see growth.
The YOUmedia physical space was designed by a team of graduate students under the direction of Professors Drew Davidson and Jesse Schell from the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Additional support for the build-out of the space was provided by Chicago Scenic Studios and US Equities.
The YOUmedia online space was designed by a team under the direction of Katie Salen from the Institute of Play in collaboration with Akili Lee from the Digital Youth Network.