The Library as Incubator Project is delighted to partner with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and guest blogger Emily Fear to showcase a new digital literacy initiative at CLP called The Labs.  For this installment, we take a look at the impressive teen-produced videos created during The Labs QuickFlix workshops.

Don’t miss Emily’s other blogs in this exciting series:  The Labs @ Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offers an introduction to the program and how it got started; The Labs @ Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh | Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K Workshops profiles The Labs’ partnership with a local outreach group for a teen sound mixing program; and The Labs @ Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh | Developing Policies & Ordering Equipment examines the nuts and bolts of launching a digital makerspace in a large library system. ~Erinn

Open on a dimly-lit theater at the Carnegie Museum of Art. A large crowd of teenagers and their family and friends are seated in the audience. Before them is a projection screen, where several short films are being shown. These films are met with laughter, cheers and applause.

The camera pans across several members of the audience. These are the actors on the screen. They are also the creators of these films. They are all teenagers, and they are about to receive awards for their work.

No, this isn’t a movie. This is a scene directly from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s QuickFLIX/Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest party, held on August 2 at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The Library has been sponsoring both of these competitions for several years, but this is the first year that the QuickFLIX program has been a part of the The Labs project.

Karen Brooks, former Library Teen Coordinator, started the QuickFLIX filmmaking contest. The grant-funded project included the purchase of flip cameras for every Library location, so that teens interested in entering the competition could borrow a camera if needed. Breaking down that technological barrier was an important feature of the QuickFLIX program, but also an integral step toward future digital learning initiatives.

Filmmaking workshops became important to the contest for similar reasons. Pittsburgh Filmmakers, especially their Youth Media Program, made for a natural partnership. The library
would supply the locations, basic tools and interested teens and, in turn, Filmmakers would supply the personnel to help teach these young adults the basic tenets of filmmaking. This year, workshops were increased to include several classes focused on stop-motion animation using Smoovie, a basic iPad app. Films created in the workshops were uploaded to the CLP Teens’ YouTube account and were eligible for submission in the QuickFLIX contest.

The majority of the eighteen submissions to this year’s contest were created in the workshops. This marks a real transition for QuickFLIX from passive to workshop-driven programming–all part of folding an annual tradition into a burgeoning new program. The mindset is expanding from getting teens involved in a program to getting the most out of that involvement.

For Corey Wittig, the Library’s Digital Learning Librarian, it was a perfect fit and further evidence that a digital learning initiative has been a long-time coming:

QuickFLIX is a pre-existing program, but I think it shows that we’ve been working toward The Labs for quite some time now. The idea of creating digital content is at the heart of QuickFLIX and The Labs – we’re just able to expand that now. ~Corey Wittig, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Digital Learning

I’d add, as an end note, that the QuickFLIX films speak louder for the program and The Labs than mere words could ever achieve. These teens, ages spanning from eleven to eighteen, have been able to create some truly impressive content, much of it in the span of just a few workshops. We invite everyone to celebrate these achievements by viewing the films on the CLP Teens’ YouTube account.

Here are a few of our favorites:


Emily Fear is a MLIS student in her last semester at the University of Pittsburgh. As part of her program, she is currently serving two internships: One at the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library, a 30+ non-profit organization dedicated to serving children and families in the Pittsburgh area; and another as an intern for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Teen Services, for which she is writing this guest blog series. Come August, Emily hopes to continue her library work in Pittsburgh, her hometown that never fails to inspire and amaze her.

Pin It