Gaming at CLP Engages Teens

Every week, hundreds of teens regularly visit Carnegie Libraries around the city. They come willingly and stay for hours. They come for “gaming,” to play video and board games and more. Corey Wittek, CLP’s Teen Services digital learning librarian, and his staff are reaching all kinds of kids – by speaking to their interests.

“Each branch has dedicated teen time,” Corey says. “Open-ended time for them to game, but it’s also a hook to get teens to have a deeper experience in the library. Gaming is an entry point.”

Q: What are some of the skills they develop through gaming?
A: With some games, they learn design; others, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills. They learn spatial reasoning, and there are even some games like Rocksmith where they can learn an instrument. But mostly what they do is have fun.  So they learn some serious skills in a not-so-serious environment.

Q: Why does Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh do this?
A: Some of these kids don’t have the Internet at home. But they’re what we call digital natives – it all comes naturally to them. So, they’re stranded if they don’t have access. We can help provide that. At some branches, dozens of kids turn up every week. We see it as a tool in our arsenal of engaging teens.

Q: What else does CLP provide for teens?
A: We have The Labs, CLP’s teen-only learning lab, at three sites around the city, where teens have access to equipment, software and free training and workshops from mentors. It promotes connected learning – we connect to the things that matter in their lives.

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