On a Roll
When parents of school-age children in Pittsburgh were growing up, there were certainly no digital teen librarians around to help get things done. A year ago, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) didn’t have one either. Now, Corey Wittig is working to make the grant-funded position his own, although he doesn’t lack for projects. The results of his first year—“figuring it out”—have been impressive.
“Corey redefines what it means to be a librarian every day in his work,” says Carrie Smith, a close friend and Pittsburgh resident. “His efforts give teens in the Pittsburgh area the chance to learn and create in a hands-on environment and move the library forward.”
“You see what works,” Wittig says. “We’re happy just to have people in the space. Once they’re here, then you can move to the next level. This whole year was kind of a planning year.”
It’s been a “doing” year, as well. Social media, of course, is where Wittig spends a large portion of his workday. He manages CLP’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/clpteen) and its Twitter account (twitter.com/#!/CLP_Teens). Teensburgh, CLP’s elaborate teen blog, is packed with diverse content from a variety of contributors. Books, library exhibits, art, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are just a sampling of common posting subjects.
Wittig also diligently pursued funding to bring YOUmedia to CLP, developing a successful grant application to the Institute of Museum and Library Services/McArthur Foundation. YOUmedia (Youmedia.org) is regarded as an innovative learning space for teens, giving them access to technology as well as adult mentoring to produce a host of projects. Libraries, museums, and community centers nationwide have partnered with YOUmedia. Wittig took it an extra step, starting a mobile component so teens outside the library could also have access.
QuickFlix 2011 was another of Wittig’s first-year projects. He teamed with Pittsburgh-area filmmakers during the summer to help teens create their own short videos, complete with instruction, production, and evaluation of the finished work.
CLP currently has about 1600 square feet of dedicated space for its teen room at the main Forbes Avenue branch, not counting the stacks. The library is planning an expansion, which will give Wittig more elbow room for his activities and projects.
“Corey continues to stay engaged with teen patrons by working on the teen desk once a week, volunteering for library events, and taking part in teen programming,” Smith says. His projects, she notes, have made the teen department “visible and accessible to Pittsburgh teens, in addition to being an incredibly useful resource for learning and creativity.”