Teen Tech Week Grant Winner: Amy K. Marshall, Craig Public Library

Name & Name of Library: Amy K. Marshall at The Craig Public Library

Project Name: New Dimensions in DYI -- Let’s Build a 3D Printer!

Project Description: Starting Saturday, March 8th, teens from Craig and all over Prince of Wales Island will be converging on The Craig Public Library to begin the build an Airwolf 5.5 3D Printer! Several teens will be filming the event for a YouTube movie, and two teens wanted to podcast about it, so that will be available as a link on the library’s website, on twitter (@CraigAKLibrary) and on the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheCraigPublicLibrary We’re hoping our local NPR (KRBD in Ketchikan) will pick up the podcast and broadcast it to all of Southeast Alaska. The build will continue after school and during the library’s evening hours all through Teen Tech Week. We will be meeting via Skype and Video Conferencing with several people who have built 3D printers from kits who will provide some guidance and demonstrations.

Then, on Friday, March 14th, at The Craig Public Library’s 3rd Annual Pi-Einstein Day Celebration, the teens will unveil and demonstrate the 3D Printer! We will be celebrating our usual way with pizza (pie), pie (pie), and a science program (pi) -- this year’s program is the printer demonstration and a program by the teens! (Pi-Einstein Day is 3.14 (March 14th), the numeration of Pi, which also happens to be Einstein’s Birthday).

1.) Why did you choose this particular project?

I have incredibly talented tech-y teens and talented artistic teens. A 3D printer seemed a great way to bring those two groups together--to get the art and the tech of it to appeal to both groups. When we added the media angle (actually, the teens added that), it brought in even more kids and the excitement level has been building steadily. Now, two days away from Day 1 of the build, the teens are talking about nothing else!

2.) Why do you think it will be a success with your patrons?

My teen patrons think it is one of the coolest things the library’s done with them. The younger kids are now clambering for things like LEGO Mindstorm, because “why should THEY have all the fun, Miss Amy?” And they’re right, of course. This has proven to be an excellent leaping-off point for bringing more STEAM into the library. The adults think it’s AWESOME -- not only because the library will have a 3D Printer available, but also because it’s a project that is engaging the teens and focusing them on something beneficial to the community. The teens don’t realize how this is also a community service type project and that they are volunteering to make the community a better place. I’ll save that speech for the demonstration day. They’re excited about something that will broaden their minds and give them an invaluable experience. Adults think like that. Teens are into it because I mention how much fun it will be.

3.) How will this money help make your program an even bigger success?

The grant didn’t cover the entire cost of the printer, and that’s fine. I used the grant to leverage other revenue streams. Because YALSA believed in the project, people in town believe in the project and the grant gave me more street cred with local businesses AND the teens. The remainder of the money has come in from donations. Without the YALSA grant, I don’t know that I could have raised the entire $1,300+ for the kit plus the money for the programming. Thank you!

4.) What elements, in your opinion, make a successful Teen Tech Week program?

I think listening to the teens is the best way to make it a success. I’m known for saying, “So … what do you want to do today?” The teens know they can tell me and I’ll try to find a way to make it happen. Before I applied for the grant, I mentioned the idea of a 3D printer to several of the teens. When their eyes lit up and they began to talk non-stop about how absolutely cool and fantastic that would be, I realized I was on the right track. And, when I mentioned it to the art-teen crowd and got a similar response, I knew I had a way to bring everyone together.

5.) What successes are you having with digital tools in your library? Challenges?

The Craig Public Library is part of The AlaskaOWL Program -- OWL meaning “Online With Libraries.” It began as a project among The US Department of Commerce, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, and The Alaska State Library. The idea was to make high speed, managed broadband available to 105 Alaska libraries. It’s worked. Another thing it brought in was Video Conferencing. I know I’m supposed to be all staid and professional and not use words like “Wholly Whack-a-Mole, that’s fun!” but, there you go. We’ve used video conferencing to meet comic book artist J. Torres, to connect with The Denver Museum of Science & Nature, to participate in National Park Service programs where the Toddler-Preschool crowd was able to earn their Junior Park Ranger Badges from Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, and to organize and participate in a Shakespeare’s Readers Theater program with other Alaska libraries (http://www.alaskapublic.org/2014/02/07/ak-connecting/). My challenges, like just about all Alaskan libraries have, include internet speed. When the grant was originally written, 1.5MPS was pretty fast -- actually, it was the standard for the nation. Now? So many things have moved beyond that. I was talking to someone at GCI who mentioned that Anchorage would soon be getting 100MPS. Wow! I know it will take time because we are so remote on our island in Southeast, but I think the speed issue is one that we can overcome in time.

6.) Overall, how important is Teen Tech Week to your patrons and your library? 

This is the largest and most ambitious Teen Tech Week project the library has undertaken. We have done smaller programs in the past -- things like Career Days for technical careers (we’re actually doing a Careers in Media video conference smack dab in the middle of all of this this year!) and book displays and low tech projects. I admit, this sets the bar rather high for us here. I already have Teen Tech Week Planning down on my calendar for this November (when things slow down). I’ve had an upswing in volunteers and hope for a further upswing in volunteers as a result. It’s also important because we’re embarking on a new adventure for library construction. The Craig Public Library is in a building with 1,200 square feet of public use space (600 sq. feet for bathrooms, mechanical, and a tiny office). I know these teens will advocate for the library (and more space). I know they’ll come up with something equally ambitious and fun for next year! 

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