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The Learning Curve @ Central Library

Indianapolis Marion County Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Chris Cairo, Director, Program and Project Development Area, ccairo@imcpl.org

Problem Statement

Prior to December 2007 children in the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) community did not have free access to the high tech tools that focus on teaching various communication skills needed to be successful in the 21st century. IMCPL’s model for children’s programming relied more on traditional storytelling and book-based activities.

Innovation

In December 2007 IMCPL piloted a new model for children’s programming in the Learning Curve @ Central Library, and began using social networking, laptops, and software tools that help children learn more about how to communicate in the 21st century. On a daily basis, children have the opportunity to come to the Learning Curve @ Central Library and participate in robot activities, or use the green screen in the theater area to act out a play, or use a laptop to create an animated cartoon. The activities correlate with a set of literacy standards adapted from educational standards that involve the stimulation of the senses, experiencing music, engagement in open-ended play, and prepares the child for the next levels of literacy standards that teach collaboration skills and exploration of advanced multi-media tools. The activities and technology available give children access to opportunities they did not previously have at the Library or perhaps at home and school.

Progress

In 2009 the Library hosted 318 groups in the Learning Curve bringing over 10,000 children in to the doors of the Central Library to participate in various technology rich activities. Hourly activities were offered 1,653 times with an attendance of over 30,000 children participating who just stopped by to see what was being offered in the Learning Curve. As an example of the children’s achievements while visiting the Learning Curve, a book, published at lulu.com, called “That a Man Can Stand: the Evolution of a Nation”, was developed by 67 students from the Decatur Township charter school. The students visited the Learning Curve many times to do research and learn about new ways to use technology to create. The result was the development of the book, sold at lulu.com. With the influx of electronic tools that enable our children to instantly "plug in" comes a tremendous opportunity to help young people become skilled information seekers and learners. The technological framework for child development in the Learning Curve @ Central Library allows the library to grow with the needs of children as they face the increasingly technology-rich learning environment of the future.