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In the spirit of experimentation, the Free Library opened its first dedicated, staffed teen center embedded within our popular lending library, Philbrick Hall at the Parkway Central Library, in March 2012.
We are currently developing an eTextiles curriculum to roll out in the teen center in Philbrick, as well as several other Free Library locations. The Free Library’s Maker Corps program this summer provides an exciting opportunity to build our teen engagement in creative programming—we’re looking for creative, nimble thinkers who enjoy mentoring, as well as playing with technology and rethinking traditional craft.
Maker Ed is pleased to welcome The Free Library of Philadelphia as a Maker Corps Host Site.
The Maker Education Initiative is a non-profit project of the Tides Center, Tax ID: 94-321-3100. How can we leverage resources to democratize creative learning in every neighborhood in the city?


Over the summer we began an in-depth, youth-led summer research curriculum, hiring more than 35 teens in Philadelphia to work daily in their neighborhood library to research how teens use their local library, poll youth interest, and develop concepts on how the library can support the interests of youth via physical space, mentors, and programming.
The Free Library has been selected by eCrafting Circles—a National Science Foundation-grantee group comprised of members of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, School of Design, and the Franklin Institute—to run creative workshops with youth using the Lilypad Arduino. One of our largest challenges as a library in the 21st century is rethinking the place of libraries in society, and how we as an institution can foster creative informal education and provide mentorship for teens, and investigating how books and literacy interface with technology.
What does it take to fulfill the Free Library’s mission—to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity—to teens? Out of the 35, we selected 14 to be part of our Youth Design Council, a group that meets monthly to dig deeper into the summer research, identify shortcomings with current teen services, and come up with creative solutions. We will be launching workshops in eTextiles and soft circuits through our Literacy Enrichment Afterschool program (LEAP) beginning this spring, and will be participating in Philadelphia’s Science Festival Carnival on the parkway in April, where the goal is to create the largest human circuit using the Lilypad, conductive fabric, and hoodies.


You can be part of the movement—apply to be a Maker Corp Member at the Free Library of Philadelphia by March 1st.
Our goal is to have their voice at the table when our flagship space begins construction, but we realized that their insights proved to be more valuable in the immediate future than we had anticipated.



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