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Legends/Making/Space: Teaching and Learning at YOUmedia in Hartford, Connecticut
thesisposted on 01.05.2020, 00:00 by Virginia Killian
Opportunities and spaces for youth to engage in interest-driven multimodal production have expanded in the past decade (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014; Ito et al., 2013; Magnifico, Curwood & Lammers, 2015). This study explores one such space, YOUmedia in Hartford, Connecticut and the interactions of people, space, and things across a complex assemblage within a defined context, and how those interactions produced opportunities for youth to mean and make meaning, to see and be seen, to know and be known. This case study of YOUmedia at the Hartford Public Library relied on observations, interviews, audio, video, photographs, and youth-produced artifacts to capture a sense of the ways young people shared and made meaning in an open-ended, interest-powered space. Major findings from this investigation include the opportunities to learn produced by the librarians’ decision to bend the attendance rules and allow young people 20-24, whom the librarians called “Legends,” to continue to access the space and its resources. Additionally, this study found that YOUmedia’s spatial and social designs gave youth opportunity to engaged in acts of composing and making that “held space” sonically, physically, and materially. Finally, this study found that Hartford Public Library staff supported and protected a space of caring and creativity by their engagement at the periphery of activity. Implications for research and practice include the needs of 18-24 year olds of a continuum of care and opportunity to participate in and hold space in the public creative spaces that they have come to value; and the importance of holistic, institution-wide commitment to protecting and activating youth-centered spaces in youth-centered ways.