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Are Digital Media Labs the Libraries of the Future?

Could a digital media lab in downtown Chicago be the library of the future?


As electronic books and other digital media become more popular, libraries are going through an identity crisis. Their role as repositories of bound books is uncertain in the long-term future, and nobody knows what the next iteration looks like. YOUmedia, a two-year-old teen learning experiment that incorporates digital media into a wider educational experience, could be a model for what neighborhood libraries across the country might become.

Housed in an old storage area of the Chicago Public Library’s downtown Harold Washington Library Center, YOUmedia isn’t just a place where teens come to check out books. "We are in one of these rare moments in time where what it means to be literate today, what it meant for us, is going to be different from what it means to be literate for our kids," Nichole Pinkard, who developed YOUmedia, told USA Today. To keep up, Pinkard and the YOUMedia team build the space as a vibrant community learning center that seeks to inspire collaboration and creativity.

YOUmedia is in Chicago’s Loop, right at the intersection of several of the city’s train and bus hubs. The design of the space replaces the sterile shelves of traditional libraries with a setting that more closely resembles a cozy living room or collegiate lounge. And, while students can still access the thousands of books in the library’s collection, the center also comes equipped with computers, video cameras, video and photo editing software, and an in-house recording studio with keyboards, turntables, and a mixing board. It’s all free for any high-school student with a library card.


While all the technology and resources are great, what makes the space truly work is that the teens aren’t left to their own devices once they walk through the doors. Exploring individual interests is encouraged, but YOUmedia is staffed by mentors from the Digital Youth Network and by experienced librarians who run structured workshops and projects to help students build their critical thinking skills and creativity.

Some of the dozens of workshops offered are ones that you'd associate with a traditional library. But courses on radio podcasting, fashion photography, graphic design, and the production of YOUlit, the student-produced online magazine definitely follow a 21st-century concept of a library as a multifaceted learning space.

YOUmedia is beginning to expand to other branches of the city's public library system, but it's requires a significant investment of financial and human capital. Whether the YOUmedia model expands elsewhere will certainly depend on whether public and private entitites work together to make it happen.

Articles
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Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

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Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

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So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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