Our friends Monnee Tong and Uyen Tran at San Diego Public Library are the fearless teen (and tech!) advocates behind our series on the SDPL IDEA Lab.  Today, Monnee gives an overview of how the IDEA Lab works– from equipment & software, to partnerships, to staffing. Enjoy! ~Erinn

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by Monnee Tong

The IDEA Lab—it started with an idea and an empty office space, and came to fruition with the help of a California State Library LSTA grant, community partners, motivated staff, and of course, TEENS! It’s been a privilege having a front-row seat to its growth from an empty room with big dreams, to a third space that fosters teen creation, collaboration, and friendship. My blog posts for this series will give an overview of our journey since we opened in February 2014 (we just turned 1!), and what we have planned for the future.

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L: San Diego Central Library.     R: The IDEA Lab

Located on the 8th floor of the brand new San Diego Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common, the IDEA Lab was born with the mission that new technology be accessible to teens to prepare them with 21st century skills.

Located on the 8th floor of the brand new San Diego Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common, the IDEA Lab was born with the mission that new technology be accessible to teens to prepare them with 21st century skills. Our building’s location in the I.D.E.A. District, an urban initiative to bring more design and technology jobs to San Diego’s East Village, inspired the name and the space: a digital lab for teens to dabble in everything from Final Cut Pro to Python.

With a California State Library LSTA grant, we purchased 10 computers, 5 Wacom tablets, 3 display monitors, 1 photo printer, a multi-touch coffee table, a cornucopia of software programs (from AutoCAD to Adobe Premiere), and video recording equipment. The space itself is like a digital petting zoo for teens: We have a little of everything.

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Top: A student designs a logo during a workshop on Adobe Illustrator. Bottom L: Teens play the game Microsoft Rebound on the multi-touch coffee table. Bottom R: Wacom tablets that make it possible to draw on the computer as one would with a pen and paper

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Top L: IDEA Lab Tech Team Interns set up a shot on a camcorder. Top R: A student finishes a digital media project in Photoshop for a class assignment. Bottom: An Hour of Code workshop taught by Fab Lab San Diego

The space itself is like a digital petting zoo for teens: We have a little of everything.

San Diego Public Library staff and community partners came together to turn this room full of technology into the community space it is today.

To staff the IDEA Lab’s open hours (we’re open 6 days a week, after school and on Sundays, to teens 12-21), we recruited interested staff members for an IDEA Lab Committee. They received an introduction to video editing from Media Arts Center San Diego, taught workshops, mentored the IDEA Lab Tech Team Interns (stay tuned for our next post about this internship program!) and monitored the Lab during open hours.

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IDEA Lab committee members on SDPL’s “red carpet”: Rachel Esguerra, Gigi Terzian, Karla Carrillo, and Monnee Tong

In addition to the staff committee, community partners Media Arts Center San Diego, AIGA San Diego, and CityTV acted as consultants and taught public workshops.

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Top: A flyer for an AIGA San Diego taught workshop. Bottom L: A student’s work during a vinyl sticker workshop taught by staff. Bottom R: Green screen workshop taught by CityTV.

Workshops are intimate, as the Lab can only accommodate about 10 students. Some of the classes we have offered have been Graphic Design 101 (taught by AIGA San Diego,) Introduction to SketchUp (staff taught), and Green Screen (taught by CityTV). In one year, we’ve offered nearly 30 workshops taught by staff, volunteers, and teen interns from the IDEA Lab Tech Team. (For a list of our past events, click here.)

What does the future hold for the IDEA Lab? We will be opening some days to all ages due to high demand, and we plan to continue to foster relationships with community partners and design/media professionals to bring outside expertise to our patrons. In the next post about the IDEA Lab, I’ll be talking about the IDEA Lab Tech Team Internship, a program in conjunction with e3 Civic High School, the charter school housed in the same building as Central Library.

Stay tuned for the next post about SDPL Labs by Emerging Technologies Librarian, Uyen Tran, who will be writing more about the innovative maker programs that we offer at San Diego Public Library through our 3D Printing Lab.

 

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monnee_biopicMonnee Tong is the Teen Services Librarian at San Diego Central Library. A California native with small-town roots, Monnee is passionate about providing programs and services to help teens navigate their young adult years. She received an MLIS from the University of Washington and a BA in the History of Art from U.C. Berkeley. In 2014, she was named an ALA Emerging Leader. Connect with her on Twitter @librarianmo.

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