ULC Tapped to Lead Youth Learning Labs Project

May 16th, 2011

MacArthur Foundation & Institute of Museum and Library Services Commit $4 Million to the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums Project

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC), in partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), has been selected to lead “Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums,” a national initiative to create and support youth digital media learning labs in up to 30 libraries and museums nationwide.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) have committed $4 million to support knowledge sharing activities in libraries and museums, a framework for measuring outcomes, and grants for new learning labs in libraries and museums.

In announcing the Learning Labs Project award, IMLS Director Susan Hildreth pointed to ULC and ASTC's deep knowledge of the library and museum fields and their capacity to "make this project a success."

The Learning Labs Project builds on current research on how teens learn through new media and the national work being conducted on 21st century skills and needs of the new workforce in America. It will draw on the powerful combination of ULC and ASTC member communities, and other museums and libraries, to establish a nationwide network of 30 learning labs through a competitive grant process.

“ULC is thrilled to partner with ASTC to lead this important project,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “Our organizations share a deep commitment to strengthening the value of libraries and museums in our communities.”

"We believe the Learning Labs Project will generate robust new models for educating and engaging youth through digital learning opportunities in our libraries and museums,” Benton added.

Using the inspiration of the YOUmedia model at the Harold Washington Library Center of the Chicago Public Library, the labs will engage young people in learning, socializing and participating civically through the use of digital technologies – building on their interests and connecting them to valuable resources and peers.

Announcement of this project award comes on the heels of ULC’s leadership role in the “Public Access Technology Benchmarks” initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Earlier this month, ULC convened a 12-member national coalition that will design and test a series of public access technology benchmarks for public libraries.

“Combined, these two projects enhance ULC’s commitment to strengthening the role public libraries play in ensuring computer and internet access to people from all walks of life and help users take advantage of the remarkable opportunities available through technology.” Benton said.