Last week, we shared an exciting update from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh which focused on filmmaking programs for teens at their digital, multi-site makerspace, The Labs @ CLPToday, Labs mentor Molly Dickerson is back to share more on CLP’s successful maker programs. You can catch up on the previous post here: “Life After the Launch, Part One: Filmmaking in The Labs” and all the posts in the series are archived. Enjoy! ~Erinn


by Molly Dickerson

After a successful first month of programming at The Labs@ CLP, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s new digital media learning lab, The Labs team (Corey, André and I) moved into music and audio production with more confidence. I was still a little nervous, though; I’m decidedly the less experienced mentor on the subject, while André  is an active musician. Still, André assured me that aspects of our program would be new to him too, since we didn’t get a chance to take The Labs music and audio equipment out of their boxes until November rolled around.

Thankfully, The Labs has a subscription to, a learning bank of software tutorials. Although I had not worked with GarageBand extensively, it was relatively easy to get the hang of it once I watched some of the Lynda videos. In early Labs brainstorms, it seemed that Lynda would be a good resource for teens to access self-guided software instruction, but as the months have progressed and teens continue to reject our gentle suggestions to use the site, it’s become increasingly apparent that our user base is more willing to accept live instruction rather than virtual tutorials.

A teen shares her love at the CLP - Allegheny Lab, December 2012.

A teen shares her love at the CLP – Allegheny Lab, December 2012.

Music and audio month brought out new aspects of creativity in teens, and as they grew more comfortable with The Labs, their humor emerged through their projects and interactions. Several teens used music and audio month to record podcasts, although many had trouble leaving their jokes on the cutting room floor, resulting in episodes that last upward of 15 minutes (see TheLabsCLP SoundCloud). A group of teens at our CLP-Main (Oakland) location blended humor with the Library’s collection in their podcast called “Judge a Book by Its Cover,” in which they deconstructed books in the Library based solely on the covers and synopses.

The musicians in the group were welcome to bring their own instruments to The Labs. Part of our music and audio equipment arsenal included microphones and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controllers, which teens were welcome to use regardless of musical training. One teen spent time recording and editing songs he played on his guitar:

Teens might also break into spontaneous song at The Labs, and if they’re lucky enough to have a piano-player among them, they might record something as charismatic as this:

As the holidays approached, so did snow storms, school closings and vacation, all of which hurt our attendance a little bit through December (L.E.D. circuit craft and make your own .gif[t] month) and January (pick-your-own-project month). Many regulars stuck around for workshops despite the interruptions in their schedules, and I’ve even had a few teens tell me they’ve missed me during their breaks—both signs that the mentors are building good relationships with the teens we serve.

As we look forward to the future, The Labs seems to be on the right track to fostering creativity, building positive mentor-mentee relationships and striving for digital media literacy. We’ll welcome two new mentors to our team in the next month or two, which will allow us to increase the number of workshops we hold on a weekly basis and provide more individual attention to teens at popular Labs locations. Now that we’re solidly in the second quarter of year one and things are going well, I can only imagine how much more we will grow and improve by our first anniversary.


LAILabsDickersonMHeadshotMolly Dickerson is a mentor at The Labs@ CLP, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s digital media learning lab. She earned a BA in Film Studies from The College of Wooster in 2010 and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012, both of which have informed her passion for her work at The Labs. You can follow her Labs activity on her Facebook profile.

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