Center aims to increase digital and career skills
by BRIAN NADIG
A new teen center in the recently renovated Jefferson Park Library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave., is designed to give high school students opportunities to increase their digital and career skills.
As part of the library system’s "Youmedia" programming, the center includes free access to a 3D printer, music production equipment, board games, a sewing machine for fashion designing and a vinyl cutter for the production of decorative window clings.
"Just teens are allowed to go into this space," branch manager Eileen Dohnalek said. Specific events are occasionally scheduled for the center, but much of the time "open lab" hours are offered in which students can "hang out" and chose their activities, she said.
The center is open for high school students from 3 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 3 to 4:30 p.m. Fridays and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. It also is open from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays for seventh and eighth-grade students.
Last year Comcast donated $250,000 to help open eight additional centers for teens in the city and to offer digital skills education programming for seniors. The first digital lab for teens at a Chicago library opened in 2009.
Last year the Jefferson Park Library received approximately $1.5 million in improvements, including new furniture, multi-purpose workspaces and shelving. The renovation project, which was initiated as part of the 45th Ward’s discretionary budget process, was funded from an allocation from the Jefferson Park Tax Increment Financing District.
The library allows patrons to reserve a community room which can accommodate up to 75 people for meetings and a smaller study room which can hold up to six people. For more information, call the library at 312-744-1998 or visit chipublib.org/locations/38.