It's a sweltering July afternoon . . .and Digital Learning Librarian Corey Wittig is at CLP - Hazelwood surrounded by a cool group of aspiring filmmakers. Through a partnership with Pittsburgh Filmmakers, local teens had the rare opportunity this summer to learn digital filmmaking from artists working in the film industry. Pittsburgh Filmmakers hosted free workshops at four CLP locations, providing hands-on experience in stop-motion animation and digital filmmaking. Using this year's Teen Summer Reading theme "You Are Here" and teen Hear Me stories for inspiration, the teens worked with digital cameras and ThinkPads to create and edit short animated movies and live-action film.
Will someone from this creative group of teens someday walk Hollywood's red carpet and be hailed the next Martin Scorsese or Spike Lee?
"I've already heard a few teens talk about their filmmaking aspirations, including a teen who wants to be a director so he can make a CGI film starring crayons trapped in a hot car who are trying to escape before they melt. Brilliant!" says Mr. Wittig, whose position is funded through a grant from the Grable Foundation. "But these classes aren't just for teenagers who want to go into the film industry; they're for any Pittsburgh teen who wants to learn a fun new skill, collaborate with others and creatively engage their imaginations."
Filmmaking is just one of many exciting technology programs for teens that the Library is developing. CLP is in the early stages of designing a system-wide digital learning curriculum to introduce teens to new technology and resources, promote teamwork and further develop skill sets in the areas of technology, communication and leadership. Starting this fall, iPads loaded with educational apps will travel throughout the CLP system so teen librarians can utilize the applications when they host programs.
Numerous studies, including the Pew Internet and American Life Report: Teens and Social Media and the MacArthur-funded study Living and Learning with New Media, have found that teens are increasingly living their lives online and engaging with the world and each other using social media.
"We work with many teens who may never have the ability to have the latest and greatest computer system, or know what applications are available to them," says Mr. Wittig. "The Library is the one place where teens can relax and have an outlet to express themselves."