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Library as Makerspace: Creating and Nurturing Communities of Teen Writers

Original photograph by Buffy Hamilton

As part of our makerspace initiative this year (please see this blog post and this slidedeck here) and inspired by the work of the Sacramento Public Libraryone of my focal points is thinking about ways the library can support creating communities of readers and writers who are crafting and composing texts (and I use the term text rather liberally).  The Sacramento Public Library Winter 2012 "Write at iStreet Press" writing and publishing catalog offers a model of what the library as a makerspace for constructing texts looks like in a community through the public library.  Possible topics I’m interested in offering as “lunch and learn” sessions or after-school sessions could include (but are not limited to!):

  • Creative writing (memoirs, poetry, short stories, novels) and writer’s craft
  • Self publishing options (print as well as eBook/eInk)
  • Academic writing 
  • Digital and/or multimodal composition
  • Multigenre writing
  • Storytelling

While our library program has integrated pieces of these topics in the context of curricular study and collaboration with teachers for class projects over the last few years, I would love for The Unquiet Library to offer a dedicated space (physical and virtual) for more informal learning that would give students more latitude and agency in choice and topics for writing.  I see the library giving our student writing community a place where our teens could create, share, wonder, and experiment.   

While I feel comfortable in leading some of these workshops that I envision, I know we need the expertise and wisdom of our local and global community to help us connect our students with teaching artists (in the spirit of Sacramento Public Library's iStreet Press writing program) and mentors (see the wonderful Chicago Public Library YOUMedia). Right now I'm in the early stages of reaching out to peers both near and far in my personal learning network to find people in our school community and the Atlanta/north Georgia area who could help facilitate these kinds of writing workshops; I'm also open to using Google Hangouts or Skype if there are mentors from afar who would be interested in facilitating and interacting through virtual means.   Additionally, I'd like to explore how our library could partner with other community groups and organizations (see this inspiration list from UC Davis Continuing Education); I think it would also be fun to collaborate with teen writing groups through other school and public libraries to extend the makerspace writing community!  As we grow the makerspace, I also see us tapping into our students' talents and enlisting their help in serving as teaching artists and mentors to their peers.  I am hopeful that our makerspace writing community will create, share, and publish texts (individually as well as with peers) in a variety of genres that are personally meaningful to them.

I look forward to sharing with you our journey of this endeavor to make The Unquiet Library a true "incubator" for teen writers.  What suggestions or ideas do you have for the library as a makerspace for young authors and writers who want to craft their art in a variety of genres and modes?

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Comments

Elyse Eidman-Aadahl's picture

Hi Buffy,

Alas, August, and the responses are slow on Digital Is. But seeing your blog now, what a fabulous project for the year. I'll get back to you with ideas and connections. I'll be with the YOUmedia mentors next week for a retreat, and we'll talk about how to connect. Also will put out the word in NWP. 

In the meantime, many of us how found a strong community for teen writers at Figment, where you can also create a group to help your youth find each other in the big sea of Figs.  For other youth, the project of putting together a piece or a portfolio for Art & Writing Awards provides a pathway that serves to focus their interests.

And finally, Youth Voices would always welcome participation by youth if some of the students in your makerspace were interested in the work there. Paul Allison would be happy to get on the talk with you about it. You can find him here in DI and everywhere on the web.