Supervising Librarian Melissa Morrone, returns the site to share an update on the multifunctional community Info Commons at Brooklyn Public Library.  Read on to learn more about how they’re using the Info Commons resources to connect teens with creative projects that teach technology skills during Teen Tech Time. And don’t miss the other exciting posts in our series on BPL’s Info Commons! ~Erinn

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Teen Tech Time at at Brooklyn Public Library’s Information Commons

by Melissa Morone

At Brooklyn Public Library, we’ve hosted weekly “Teen Times” at most of our locations for years. Until relatively recently, they were mostly analog affairs, with board games, snacks, and music. Now, however, we also offer regular technology-centered teen programming, and at our Central Library, Teen Tech Time (TTT) takes place in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons.

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According to Lisa Goldstein, the head of the Youth Wing at BPL’s Central Library, “Teens are some of our most enthusiastic and adventurous users of technology, and tech programs for teens are essential. They not only train teens in the technologies that may very well be required for future educational and job opportunities, they educate librarians about what tech trends will endure, and which may not.”

While teens have access to the use of computers in the library on a daily basis, Teen Tech Time is a focused space and time just for teens, where they can relax in the company of their peers while learning and having fun with technology in a safe space. ~Youth Wing librarian Yesha Naik

So far, Info Commons staff has led two green screen-themed Teen Tech Times. In order to prepare, Info Commons librarians first recorded footage of themselves in front of the green screen to create a demo that could be shown to TTT attendees. They also found sites that offered free video content to use as backgrounds, as well as a video discussing the history of green screen and chroma key in film. Finally, they created a worksheet explaining how to use the green screen effect in iMovie.

During the programs themselves, the Macbooks that we keep in the lab were set out for the teens to use. Flash drives and SD cards were on hand so participants could move around and save their footage. Over the projector, Info Commons librarian Stephanie Elstro demonstrated iMovie and the videos that she and the others had created, and then it was the teens’ turn to create. (Stephanie found that the program was ideal when participants worked together in small groups.)

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Over the course of the workshop, participants learned some basics of iMovie, such as using the timelines and importing and exporting footage. They were able to get hands-on experience with video effects by recording themselves in front of the green screen and then adding in clips of backgrounds including water, a red curtain, and outer space. Teens made short videos of themselves doing step routines or making funny faces. One young man acted out drowning and then re-awaking in a new space.

Stephanie reported, “They had fun showing each other their videos, and they emailed their projects to themselves for later sharing. They were wowed by the recording studio and green screen, which normally only adult patrons are allowed to use.” She also said that it was exciting for her to “see the teens take the recording into their own hands. They really started to have fun with it and were asking questions about how to add video. They went beyond the green screen and wanted to know how to add music and sound effects.” Speaking of sound, Stephanie noted that the program worked best when the green screen was moved out of the recording studio and into the larger lab, since that’s farther from where adults are using the computers and “teens enjoy the activity and get too loud for the quiet parts of the library!”

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Want more?

  • Get in touch with the Info Commons folks here: infocommons@brooklynpubliclibrary.org, and be sure to follow @bpl_infocommons on Twitter!
  • Download BPL’s Green Screen worksheet  as a PDF to see how they broke the process down for the workshop.
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