Giving truth to Memphis youth
by Akua Oppong (White Station High School)
The Benjamin L. Hooks Library is not just going to be a center where books are checked out and computers are used, but aims to become the new “hang out” for teenagers starting in Spring 2015 when the ‘Teen Learning Lab’ is slated to open.
Equipped with a gaming center, an art studio, a Play Café, and even a Dream Studio, The Learning Lab seems catered to teenagers, aged 13-17, with wide-ranging interests. Janae Pitts-Murdock, Teen Services Coordinator at the Memphis Public Library and Information Center said, “We often hear teens say “there’s nothing for us to do, no place to go, nothing for us” – well this is for you”.
Based on the model from Chicago’s Public Library, the Learning Lab has veered just a little bit from the Chicago design by being the twice the size with 8,400 square feet in space and an estimated budget of $1.9 million to keep the center up-to-date with the newest gaming systems gadgets, such as iPads and MacBook Pros. Artists will be able to develop their talents, and friends can relax together at the café and have snacks together.
The Library has relied on local charities and donors to help fund the project; as of July 2014, the library has received $1.3 million from anonymous donors, The Hyde Family Foundation, The Assisi Foundation, as well as other local individuals and organizations.
Pitts-Murdock said, “The Learning Lab was funded by really committed individuals and organizations that want to see Memphis youth explore and experience what the world has to offer.”
Once where the periodicals and new releases were located, as well as the Young Adult section, the Learning Lab will bring teenagers between the ages 13-17 together after school Mondays through Fridays with their friends.
An envisioned creative media is going to be incorporated into the Learning Lab. Budding filmmakers will be allowed to enter a room and record a video. This is one of many highlights of this grandiose project the Learning Lab incorporates all people (except for parents and college students!) so this really is a place for Memphis youth.
For those who do not fall into the 13-17 year-old category, a ‘Grand Opening’ will be announced to showcase to the community what Memphis has to offer.