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DIY @ your library: A Retropeek at Teen Tech Week

by on March 25, 2014

There are few universal truths in life, but here’s one of them: Teen librarians are synonymous with “Wow!” and “OMG!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking with Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) colleagues and said, “Wow! Where’d you get your idea?” and “OMG! You have to show me how you did that.” They’re the kind of innovative programmers and outside-the-box thinkers who know not only what’s cool but also how to make it happen.

When Chicago Public Library’s shiny new Teen Services department challenged librarians to herald the arrival of YALSA’s Teen Tech Week (March 9-15) with DIY @ your library awesomeness, they didn’t disappoint. We’re talking duct tape and jewelry-making programs, Spotify and Tellagami workshops, and even video production and robotics demos at library locations across the city. (I know, right? “Wow!” and “OMG!” don’t even begin to cover it.)

Since I can hardly do 30+ programs justice in a single blog post, here’s how three Chicago Public Library (CPL) librarians helped teens light, laugh, and learn their way through DIY @ your library earlier this month:

Electronic Cuff Bracelets
Who: Teen librarian Heidi Gustad, a CPL Maker Lab representative, and 16 teens
Where: Back of the Yards Branch (Chicago Public Library)
How Heidi did it: With help and donated supplies from the CPL Maker Lab, teens learned how to use conductive thread, LED bulbs, small batteries, and basic sewing skills to make a simple circuit in the form of a cuff bracelet. Heidi had a hunch the program would be popular, so she’s hosting a bonus session during the last week of March to accommodate more teens. How you can do it, too: Find Heidi’s instructions (complete with step-by-step photos) on her nifty blog, Hands Occupied.

Jokes into Memes Workshop
Who:  CPL Teen librarian Erica Gamble and a group of humor-loving teens
Where: Richard M. Daley YOUmedia
How Erica did it: Using a lively slideshow, Erica invited teens to find a good joke (or write one of their own) and turn it into a meme using a free app called Sumopaint. She also encouraged them to publish their finished projects on the CPL Teen Volume Tumblr. Erica knocked this one out of the park—her teens were reading jokes out of her branch’s joke books and laughing during the entire workshop. Check out her TTW 14 Flickr set to see examples of the fun! How you can do it, too: Round up your library’s joke books, download Sumopaint, and get your teens laughing in no time.

3D Printing
Who: Teen librarian Molly Kelly, YALSA and the Best Buy Geek Squad, and 26 teens
Where: Lozano YOUmedia
How Molly did it: Thanks to YALSA and Best Buy’s Geek Squad agents, teens learned to use Sketchup software to design 3D homes, which they could later print on the branch’s new MakerBot 3D printer. Her teens learned the new software quickly, and Molly enjoyed watching their creativity come to life through design. How you can do it, too: Since this program requires some pretty high-tech stuff, it might be a bit challenging to replicate at your library. But keep your fingers crossed for next year’s TTW mini-grants to help fund your project!

I know you want to share your “Wow!” and “OMG!” stories, too. Leave a reply and let everyone know how you celebrated DIY @ your library!


About Teen Tech WeekA national initiative sponsored by YALSA, Teen Tech Week encourages teens to use libraries’ non-print resources for education and recreation and to recognize that librarians are qualified, trusted professionals in the field of information technology. Teen Tech Week began in 2007 and has a general theme of Get Connected @ your library.

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