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A Teen's High-Tech Space for Creation, Collaboration & Career Preparation

“Libraries have long been pathways to lifelong learning,” said Janae Pitts-Murdock, Coordinator of Teen Services for the Memphis Public Library. “In the digital age, libraries are evolving into innovation hubs. Memphis Public Library & Information Center is joining pioneering libraries across the country as a place where creativity, innovation and collaboration combine.” 

Pitts-Murdock is referring to the Memphis Public Library’s new Teen Learning Lab, a state-of-the-art social, creative, production, research and performance lab that engages teens through technology. The Lab, expected to open in late summer of 2015, will provide access and training for 21st century skills as well as exposure to career pathways with information on college and workforce entry for teens ages 13-18.

The idea for the Lab is modeled off of the Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia labs and it will host a curriculum that emphasizes STE(A)M disciplines: science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The Lab will be funded through the City of Memphis as well as individuals and organizations that want to see Memphis teens explore and experience what technology has to offer. There are still opportunities for funders to get involved.

A total of 8,300 square feet on two floors of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library will serve as the main incubator for the lab. The space will include video and audio production labs, editing and mixing stations, formal and informal learning areas, digital and analog displays, a performance area, a Maker Space, brainstorming, homework and collaboration zones and much more. 

“Budding artists could use this space to record and mix spoken word tracks in the sound mixing lab, walk to the video production lab and record the video, stop upstairs in the high tech tree house and design the cover art for the CD - all of this before the teen checks out a Macbook Pro to build the website for her new recording, which she will debut on our performance stage,” said Pitts-Murdock. “Amazing, right? And I almost forgot that she will utilize the tools she learned in our entrepreneurial workshops to determine how to monetize her recording to help pay for the college she plans to attend.”

The library is working with its educational and community partners to provide workshops and seminars on a wide range of topics. Those relationships include institutions like Brooks Museum of Art, University of Memphis, Memphis College of Art, Rhodes College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, professional organizations like the Society for Information Management, and community organizations like Streets Ministries and Knowledge Quest. There will be programs on graphic design, audio engineering, video production, coding, college preparation, public speaking and entrepreneurship. 

In September the library was invited to present their plans for the Teen Learning Lab to Chairman’s Circle members who are involved with the moon mission for a Center of Excellence for Training in Advanced Manufacturing, also known as “Harvard Tech.”

“The Harvard Tech moon mission is really interested in promoting career exploration among students and exposing these young people to career paths and opportunities,” said Dexter Muller, Senior Vice President of Community Development. “We’re exploring possible avenues for accomplishing this mission.”

Posted: 11/17/2014 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (