Teens brainstorm technology ideas for new Billings library

2012-10-09T22:25:00Z 2012-10-10T09:57:09Z Teens brainstorm technology ideas for new Billings libraryBy CARMEN DAYE IRISH cirish@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A library equipped with a bowling alley, swimming pool and an IMAX theater?

These were among several ideas suggested by teenagers Tuesday evening during a two-hour brainstorming workshop, called Teen iLibrary: Bring IT! at the Parmly Billings Library.

More than 20 teens in grades six through 12 gathered to discuss ideas for the designated teen section in the new library facility.

“We want to create a place where teens will want to come and spend time,” said Kathy Robins, library information systems coordinator. “With their input tonight, it will help us plan, prioritize and budget.”

The discussion was led by Central High film editing teacher Shane Fairbanks and technology teacher Levi Osborne.

“When you think of the current library, what adjectives come to mind?” Fairbanks asked the group.

"Old-fashioned," "dirty" and "dusty" were among the students' answers.

“When thinking of technology, what words come to mind?” Fairbanks then asked.

"Advanced," "sleek" and "engaging," teens shouted out.

"Exactly," Fairbanks said. “Why not have a library that matches 21st century needs? Technology is ridiculously important and tonight we will brainstorm ways to integrate this into our new library campaign.”

“This is a way to bling up the library,” Osborne said.

The evening was designed with games, one modeled after MTV’s program, "Cribs," where groups of about five would list things they would want to show a camera crew in a tour of their library.

Next, teens worked in teams to create a library budget, choosing items such as iPad labs, a gaming center, Kindles, books, a digital media center and a photography lab. Following the budget game, groups prioritized the items on their lists.

Old-fashioned, hardback books were at the top of the list for Anakin Miller, freshman at Skyview High, and Leilahni Kay, an eighth grader at Riverside Middle School.

“I mean, it’s a library, we need books,” Kay said. “If everything becomes about technology, then we’ll lose knowing how books feel and smell — it’s important,” she said.

Kay said she would also like to see a greenhouse area in the building.

A group of three Central High students listed an IMAX theater as their priority, leaving very little left in their budget.

“It would be sweet,” said Luke Yakawich, a senior at Central High. “Programs could be educational on the weekdays and entertaining on weekends. The programs on weekends would require an admission fee that would help pay for the cost.”

Central High junior Egan Holt-Seavy said the theater would be a great way to reach younger audiences.

After hours of discussion, the groups voted and listed their top five ideas to contribute to the planning board: A café, books, an iPad lab, librarians and tutors and a 3-D printer.

“At the end, they came together and were practical and enthusiastic about what they’d like to see integrated into their teen section,” Fairbanks said.

It’s pretty awesome to have the opportunity to be a part of the planning process for the new building, Holt-Seavy said.

"Once we have a better idea of what they might find appealing, we can then look for the funding through grants," Robins said. "Our goal is to have them be interested and know that we are listening to their comments and working towards a really cool teen program."

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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