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Carnegie libraries to tap into teen creativity

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 12:26 a.m.
Andre Costello, local artist and mentor at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (left) adjusts the soundboard while local MC, Israel 'Izzy Reelz,' Higgins, 16 of the North Side performs a sound check in the library's Teen Section, Tuesday, September 18, 2012. The library will launch a lab at the main library in Oakland which will allow students to edit music and video, Wednesday. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Kelly Rottmund, Manager of the Teen Department at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland, cleans the window art done by a teen volunteer in the library's Teen Section, Tuesday, September 18, 2012. The library will launch a lab at the main library in Oakland, Wednesday, which will allow students to edit music and video. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Corey Wittig, Digital Learning Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland, sets up two new iMacs in the library's Teen Section, Tuesday, September 18, 2012. The library will launch a lab at the main library in Oakland, Wednesday, which will allow students to edit music and video, Wednesday. The iMacs were purchased with a grant from the Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review

Teens soon won't go to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh just to peruse the works of others.

Instead, they'll go to create their own works — everything from CDs to movies.

The library system is holding a party from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the main branch in Oakland to celebrate its four teen labs. The labs — in Oakland, the North Side, East Liberty and the South Side — will offer computers, iPads and software for filmmaking, photography, graphic design, digital crafts, music production and stop-action animation.

“It's tapping into teenagers' interest in these kinds of technology and encouraging them to be creators of media rather than just consumers,” said Corey Wittig, digital learning librarian.

Staff and mentors at the labs, modeled after a library in Chicago, will teach young people how to use the equipment.

The Grable Foundation has contributed $100,000 over two years to develop the labs and is considering another grant. The Heinz Endowments and the Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation support the project.

“Grable's trustees see the potential for digital media to unlock kids' creativity and their curiosity,” said Kristen Burns, associate director of the foundation. “We love the idea of creating a special place to tinker and experiment with new media.”

Library officials said the project should increase opportunities for students who may not have access to the digital equipment.

Samantha Linder, 15, of Squirrel Hill is a member of the teen advisory council, which recommended how the system should set up the labs.

“We thought that it was important for teens to have the opportunity to explore digital art and music because many teens don't have the opportunity at home to use these software and develop their skills and portfolios,” she said.

Linder specializes in visual arts at Pittsburgh CAPA, where she designs collages on such topics as war, childhood obesity and global warming. She looks forward to using the library's equipment for the first time on Wednesday.

“You pick a topic, I hope to cover it at some point,” she said.

Each month, the teen labs will have a new theme. In keeping with the season, the theme for October will be scary movies. The theme for November will be audio and music.

“We'd like to bring in local teen bands and give them an opportunity to record,” Wittig said.

He said patrons concerned about noise need not worry. Some of the labs are in meeting rooms. Musicians play directly into a computer, and vocalists will have a sound-absorbing shield to lessen noise.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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