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IMLS Supports Libraries Taking the Lead on Teen Tech

Monday, March 6, 2017

Tim Carrigan
Senior Program Officer, Office of Library Services

Each spring, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) celebrates Teen Tech Week, a special opportunity to highlight the great digital resources, programs, and services that libraries make available to teens, supporting their academic achievement and college and career readiness.  This year, Teen Tech Week is March 5-11 with the theme “Be the Source of Change.”

This effort is well aligned with the goals of IMLS (PDF, 740 KB), where we have long supported learner centered experiences in museums and libraries that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society; promoted museums, libraries and museums as community anchors that enhance civic engagement and economic vitality; and supported the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge.

Through the years, IMLS has supported a variety of programs and initiatives related to Teen Tech Week, including Museums, Libraries and 21ST Century Skills (PDF, 2.15 MB), which emphasized the critical role museums and libraries play in helping citizens develop essential skills including “the four C’s”(critical thinking, collaboration, communications, and creativity). In partnership with the MacArthur Foundation, we funded planning and design for twenty-five Learning Labs in museums and libraries (PDF, 3.75 MB) across the country to engage students in mentor led, interest-based, youth-centered learning using digital and traditional media.

Recently, the agency has funded a series of design-based research projects that develop and explore models for inquiry-based STEM programs delivered by scientists, engineers and related technical practitioners to youth and their families through our STEM-EX initiative. Our report, Strengthening Networks, Sparking Change: Museums and Libraries as Community Catalysts (28.84 MB),  describes the complementary conceptual frameworks of social wellbeing and collective impact and explains how libraries and museums can use these concepts to partner with community-based organizations, government agencies and other cultural or educational organizations to spur change in their communities, and compliments this year’s Teen Tech Week theme.

In honor of Teen Tech Week 2017, IMLS is delighted to spotlight five recent projects we’ve supported which demonstrate how libraries leverage technology in service of teens across the nation in a series of guest blog posts. As you’ll read, these libraries serve a range of diverse communities and experimented with a variety of tools and approaches, including Minecraft, digital credentialing, making, and robotics. IMLS has supported these projects through several different grant programs, including LSTA Grants to States, Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries, and National Leadership Grants for Libraries. These are the highlighted institutions:

We hope that you find these libraries’ stories inspiring. Let us know how your institution is leveraging IMLS funding and technology to support academic achievement and college/career readiness in your communities.  Join the conversation via social media using the hashtags #TTW17. On behalf of my colleagues at IMLS, we wish you a great Teen Tech Week 2017.

Tim Carrigan

About the Author
Tim Carrigan is a senior program officer in the Office of Library Services. His portfolio focuses on learning in libraries, including informal STEM education, early learning, making, and summer learning. He can be reached at tcarrigan@imls.gov