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Teen Central and ImagineYOU

Rochester Public Library, NY

Contact: Tonia Burton,

Community Partners: Nazareth College


Central Library is the system hub for Monroe County and Rochester Public Libraries, located in downtown Rochester, New York. Teen Central is the library division which houses a digital media lab and serves youths in 7th - 12th grades. We serve a diverse community that is primarily urban youth after school and some suburban youth on weekends. Our teens face many challenges, but are encouraged by librarians and mentors (Safe To Be Smart) to recognize the strengths of their cultures and seize opportunities for enrichment. Programming includes: science driven projects (Rochester Museum & Science Center), health and personal welfare panel discussions, cultural programming (Kuumba Consultants), and maker-space programs (toy-hacking). The ImagineYOU creative space is a youth leader driven initiative that offers access to photography, animation, web-page design, and music recording with professional grade equipment. Besides access to the equipment, teens are assisted by near-peer mentors who have connections to the artistic community in Rochester New York. Teens are encouraged to pursue higher education and to develop their talents for creative & professional outcomes.


Teens create projects for themselves that will be shown at the Rochester Teen Film Festival. They are creating a promotional video for the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival, which will support advertising and fundraising for a teen-centric event. While filming the festival, ImagineYOU media crew teens attracted the attention of a local graphic design & advertising firm (Dixon Schwabl). We are invited for a tour of the company, where teens can explore career paths to that profession. Teen projects will be featured in local showcases and festivals. This process has already created new mentors from former participating teens, who find the value in learning creative technologies and applying them to real-world situations: