The Labs @ CLP has been around for four years now, working to better integrate mentorship and maker-centered learning into our programs and services. If you read some of our early blog entries about the development of the program, you’ll know that programming was designed in a very prescribed way: one workshop and one Open Lab at each site each week. We were focused on introducing youth to opportunities for making and experimentation. Deeper dives would come later.
It was a useful way to get rolling, but we’re moving past it now. As weekly sites have continued to evolve (and we added more locations) the look and feel of programming at each Labs location began to better reflect the neighborhood, the youth who spend time there, the space available in the Library itself, and the staff, too.
The Labs mentors, staff hired for their creative know-how and drive to support youth learning, are now embedded at a weekly site whereas they used to roam all over. This focus on a specific library has helped catalyze this evolution by allowing staff to form deeper bonds with youth and better work with the rest of the Teen staff to create programming and projects responsive to the interests of youth. Now each site has its own flavor. We learn from one another, borrowing and adapting as needed, creating programming and services that share goals, but often differ in approach and presentation.
To illustrate this point, Amalia Tonsor (Labs Mentor at CLP – East Liberty) and Jesse Landis-Eigsti (Labs Mentor at CLP – Allegheny) have both written reflections on how music recording (a popular activity at both locations) has shifted and grown at their weekly sites. Enjoy!