As a die-hard Chicagoan, I write extensively on the YouMedia experiment. YouMedia, for those of you who don’t know, is an experiment between the Chicago Public Library, Depaul University, and the Digital Youth Network. It is funded, in part, by a MacArthur Foundation grant. This grant is being replicated for an additional 50 labs throughout the country (have you considered applying?)
The YouMedia experiment is a 21st century teen learning space. It is really a digital media lab. But it is so much more. The YouMedia folks recognize that technology alone will not save us. The success of this experiment lies in the team that YouMedia has built. Not only do the kids who use the space have access to librarians and library staff, but they also have access to mentors and instructors. The mentors and instructors have expertise in the tools, in tapping into creativity, or in just listening to the kids. They all have the goal of helping these patrons find their voices. It is in these people that the success of YouMedia is built.
So why do I write about YouMedia again. YouMedia recently witnessed a major milestone. While the research findings on the success or the failure of the experiment will take years to construct, the kids recently began providing solid anecdotal evidence pointing towards success. One example of that evidence is the recent results of the Louder than a Bomb Youth Poetry Festival. The winner of the contest was a young man who represents a YouMedia team of teens, and he even gives them credit.
To understand what the kids are learning at YouMedia, you must check out Malcolm London’s winning poem. This library certainly understands the principles of transliteracy and the role it plays in spurring creativity and content creation among patrons.