02 June, 2008

Services for children and teens at PLCMC

An exchange program between the Yarra Plenty Library Service and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina gave two staff from Yarra Plenty the opportunity to explore ways that another public library encourages visits from children and youth.

It is always hard to encourage the younger generation into the physical library building, especially in a world where social networking tools such as Myspace and Facebook, mobile phones and chat are part of everyday multi-tasking.

The Public Library if Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) have worked very hard in this area and have created great programs which draw children and teens to the library. Here is a snapshot of some of the innovative ways they attract the younger generation.

ImaginOn is a collaborative venture of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and the Children's Theatre of Charlotte.
It provides cutting-edge services and library collections, award-winning professional theatre and innovative education programs to children and teens. Parents must be accompanied by a child or teen to enter this library.
Services at ImaginOn, with specially-designed spaces, technology, and programs for 12-18 year olds, include the following:

Tech central
A space just for teens where they can use computers, do homework or just simply play games and socialize in a safe environment.

Studio i
An animation, video, editing and music creation room.
Computers with specific programs for recording and editing music are available to use.
Specific workstations with camera, lighting, blue screen and whiteboard capability with the ability to provide animation programming are also available in this area.

The Loft
ImaginOn has a space just for teens called "The loft"
Cafe style booths provide wifi access as well as a place to talk and socialise.
The loft facilities includes books magazines, CDs, DVDs, games and computers and well as regular ongoing after-school programs and informal learning communities for 12 – 18 years olds.
The loft has it's own web site and also offers online services to teens via IM

The Library offers gaming events for all ages featuring next generation consoles and state-of the-art laptops. There are events at many different locations for many different age groups, including childrens, teens and family programs.

Childrens services
Preschoolers can enjoy storytimes where they can listen to stories, sing songs and join in craft activities. Special computers equipped with early literacy software are accessible to introduce this age group to computers and learning.

School aged children
Computers loaded with special software enable children to explore games and write stories in a safe online environment.
Interactive exhibitions in the library enable children to explore in a hands-on environment.

The children’s theatre in run independently but allows children to become involved in theatre or enjoy productions produced locally. The theatre opens its doors to school groups during the school term as well as running regular worshops and summer camps during the school holidays.
There are two theatres at ImaginOn; the McColl Family Theatre which seats 570, and the Wachovia Playhouse which seats 250.

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