Heights Libraries receives grant for digital media lab for teens

From left to right: State Library of Ohio board members Laurie Gemmill Arp and Melissa Hendon Deters; IT Technician Matt Mancini; Special Projects Manager Beth Hatch; Youth Services Librarian Jessica Robinson; State Library of Ohio board members Krista Taracuk and Jennifer Thompson McKell

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library is pleased to announce it has received a Library Science and Technology Act (LSTA) STEM grant from the State Library of Ohio to create a Teen Digital Media Lab in the teen room at the Lee Road branch.

With the $7,393 provided by the grant, Heights Libraries will build a sound isolation booth equipped with professional recording equipment and software that will allow local teens to learn sound- and music-related skills, including recording, mixing, editing, and producing. The library will purchase and install the booth and equipment in the spring and summer of 2017.

In fall 2017, the library will offer a formal program for up to 12 teen students, ages 13 to 18, to teach them how to use the equipment and software, produce a student album, and learn about the music industry.

“The library is in a unique position to help our teen customers learn technological skills that will advance their burgeoning musical interests and provide connection and support to help them succeed in a fun and collaborative environment,” says Youth Services Librarian Jessica Robinson, who will coordinate the project.

Robinson and Heights Libraries IT Technician Matt Mancini, who has extensive experience with both music and sound recording technology, will teach the eight-week program. The program will also receive support from frequent library partners Lake Erie Ink and Heights High School. Teen participants will have to apply for the program, and will be selected based on need and interest level. They must be residents of Cleveland Heights or University Heights. The library will also be hiring two teen interns to serve as mentors to help instruct their peers, for which they will be compensated $500. 

Over the course of the program, teens will complete eight hours of formal instruction time and at least 12 hours of free lab time. Additional programming and open lab time for teens that are not in the formal program will be announced at a later date. 

The inspiration for the program came from the library’s 2016 strategic plan process, where library staff members engaged in a community wide dialogue that involved surveys and interviews with community members, including many teens.  

“Through these surveys and conversations, we discovered that many of our youth are extremely interested in music,” says Robinson. “They want to pursue careers as singers, rappers, and song writers. This program was designed to address those desires while also teaching kids 21st century technology skills.”