St. Paul libraries win MacArthur grant

Okay, it’s not the MacArthur Fellows program — the famed genius grants. But it’s a pretty good chunk of change, nonetheless: $100,000 for a digital media lab to get kids up to speed on the 21st century.

Library director Kit Hadley said the city is hoping to use the money to bolster digital media for programs outside the school day.

The money will fund three initiatives

  1. A digital media lab in the joint library and recreation center space the city is building at Payne and Maryland to replace the Arlington Heights library. It’ll feature some of the space and hardware kids will need to create and use internet-based content.
  2. Mobile hardware to take some of that same effort to non-city facilities, like a YMCA or other out-of-school programs
  3. A dedicated social media network based in the library, for kids in St. Paul to communicate, share their stuff and learn from each other. It’s based on the You Media program at the Chicago Public Library that teaches kids radio and podcasting, graphic design, digital publishing, music and video.

“Kids live in virtual space now, in addition to physical space,” Hadley said. “In terms of a virtual network, we can create an environment that supports quality learning, gives kids an opportunity to publish, present their work, get feedback.”

St. Paul is one of 12 cities in the country to win such grants. The city’s parks and recreation department will match the grant with in-kind aid of $65,000.

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