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Chicago Public Library
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Problem Statement

How does the Chicago Public Library create teen-centered learning opportunities, resources and spaces that embrace digital media in a relevant way for teens?


YOUmedia is an innovative, youth-centered 21st century learning space for teens opened in July 2009 by the Chicago Public Library in partnership with Digital Youth Network. YOUmedia at the Harold Washington Library Center, and virtually at the ym.iremix.org social learning network, links high school-age teens to adult mentors, digital resources, books, relevant programming and engaging workshops. By working both collaboratively and self-paced with a variety of digital media, young adults have an opportunity to engage in projects which support critical thinking, creativity, skill-building and ultimately civic engagement.

Based on research by Mimi Ito, the space was designed to address new implications for youth interaction and learning with digital media by becoming a model “out-of-school” environment created by and for teens – providing youth with opportunities to gather and learn in ways which are of particular interest to them.


YOUmedia has become a new entry point into library resources for Chicago teens. Circulation of traditional items such as books and music have increased exponentially as teens participate in project-based learning using YOUmedia technology such as laptops, music recording equipment, gaming computers and cameras. Teens are leveling-up their skills as they spend time in the space working with mentors, attending workshops and tinkering with new types of media, becoming producers of information not just consumers. Teens are forming groups based on interest and not around traditional definitions such as school, age, grade and ethnicity.