Gia Arbogast, branch administrator for the Miami-Dade Public Library System
Soon at a Miami library, high school kids will learn how to use technology to visualize their favorite book, create short animated films, even tell an autobiographical, digital story.
Called YOUMedia, the Knight-funded digital literacy classes are a way to get kids to think critically about their lives and their community - to experiment with who they are and what their communities can become.
While at the The Urban Libraries Partners for Success Conference 2011, Knight sat down with Gia Arbogast, branch administrator for the Miami-Dade Public Library System, to talk about the launch of the program and its potential impact for the community:
“The community in which this is being launched is Miami Gardens where teenagers don’t currently have somewhere they can have this kind of experience. Once we get them into the library and involved in the program, we can start having conversations about how this is going to benefit the larger community. We’re asking how you can take what you create out into the community and create something good.”
YOUMedia was first launched in Chicago, where more than 60 students expressed their vision for their community during the city’s centennial celebration. Two teens ended up presenting their ideas at the United Nations’ World Habitat Day.
Funding public libraries as centers of digital and media training is one key way to combat the lack of access to information in communities, according to the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.
The Hartford Public Library is also looking to implement the YOUMedia program in Connecticut. Chief Executive Officer of the Hartford Public Library, Matthew Poland says he sees the program as crucial to creating greater civic engagement:
“After seeing YOUMedia in Chicago last year, we came back to Hartford eager to design a program like that for our own community. We want to see better educated young people and hope to teach literacy skills in an engaging and useful way. In turn, we hope it can improve graduation rates, a significant problem in our community. To make it happen we’re working with partners, primarily the Boys and Girls Club of America, to develop the curriculum and provide digital literacy mentors for teens.”
Poland says they are currently in the process of implementing a curriculum that is set to launch in 2012.
Knight’s support for YOUMedia Miami is part of the foundation’s Library Initiative, which supports libraries in 27 cities become true digital community centers that help foster informed and engaged communities.