Library Afterschool Tech Programs Receive Funding Shot

In Joliet, IL, students will learn how to develop and launch a streaming channel for video games at their libraries. In North Riverside, they'll be able to take classes in digital photo manipulation. And in Marion Carnegie Library, they'll have access to a monthly maker space club, where they can learn to write code. All of these libraries were recipients of grants from an annual program run by Illinois' Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White.

Project Next Generation (PNG) grants went out to 31 public library systems in the state. The grants, which can range up to $40,000, are intended to help fund after-school programs for middle and high school students — especially those at risk — to develop expertise in the use of technology, along with "life skills," such as goal setting, conflict resolution and effective communication.

PNG issued a total of $526,790 in this year's grants. The funding is provided to the State Library by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

In Joliet, the $39,989 in funding supports a digital media studio that delivers programs on setting up streaming channels, for example, as well as virtual reality programming, printing a robot kit in 3D and video interviewing of military veterans, which will teach "serious students" how to operate a camera, set up lighting, manage audio recording, do graphics and video editing and help them develop interviewing skills.

North Riverside Public Library is applying its $25,390 to the digital photography sessions as well as other classes on creating decal art and doing 3D design

And at Marion Carnegie Library a $19,875 grant will fund the hiring of an instructor to teach those coding classes.

"I am committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth in Illinois," said White, in a statement. "I established this innovative program when I first became Secretary of State to give students an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with the latest technological tools at their local library."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.