Pima County Library Gets $70K Grant for Youth Media, Technology Programs

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Members of the library's youth design team. - COURTESY OF THE PIMA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
  • Courtesy of the Pima County Public Library
  • Members of the library's youth design team.

The Pima County Public Library got a $70,000 grant to create more youth media programs for teens. 

Thanks to the gift from the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, the library can start offering classes and workshops related to robotics, graphic design, and virtual reality technology, on top of the other free STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and math—programs it already hosts daily. 

"Libraries are known for connecting people with information that will help them be successful," says Kendra Davey, the Young Adult Services manager and project director for the 101 Space, a media and all-things STEAM center for youth at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. "This funding allows us to get the programs in place now that will help young people get jobs in the future."

More on the 101 Space, from a Pima County library press release:
The library had provided innovative digital media programs for middle school and high school students for many years before receiving a $100,000 planning grant in 2012 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to design a new youth media space. A Youth Design Team of high school and college students led the 18-month-long research and planning process, and a dedicated media center for teens and young adults called the 101 Space opened in 2014 on the second floor of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library.
This year, the Arizona State Library got about $3.17 million under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. More than $500,000 was awarded to libraries around the state. The rest of the money will go toward supporting statewide services, such as family literacy and other reading programs, among other initiatives. 

Every year, more than 2,500 of these grants are awarded to projects nationwide.

"Learners are at the center of all of our initiatives, as we dedicate our efforts towards lifelong learning and literacy," says Arizona State Librarian Joan Clark. "Our libraries have become community anchors that address diverse needs, including employment and economic development, civic engagement, and human services. We'll be there to lead and support these efforts."

The library will also offer photography, video editing, and computer coding programs. Everyone who participates will have access to 3D printers, digital cameras and editing and design software.

In May, the Pima County Board of Supervisors tentatively approved an 8-cent tax rate for the library district to try and balance the budget burdens that have trickled down from the state Capitol. An approximate $23 million, according to the county. The library district is about $8 million in the red.

In April, the county had suggested closing four libraries and shortening hours at eight others. The rate increase, which comes from a secondary property tax, would keep that from happening. Either way, Melinda Cervantes, Pima County Public Library's executive director, says the libraries will have to scale back in certain areas through this rough patch. 

The supervisors will officially adopt a budget on June 16.

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