January 18, 2022

New Publication: “Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums: Transformative Spaces for Teens”

This new publication was released today on the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) web site.

From an IMLS Overview/News Release:

Twenty-four Learning Labs in libraries and museums across the country are engaging America’s youth in learning settings where they gain skills and following their passions. A new publication, Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums: Transformative Spaces for Teens, describes these innovative teen spaces.

The report details the research behind the labs, the practices that support meaningful learning, and the impacts of a movement that grew with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and its private partner, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In 2010, President Obama launched Educate to Innovate, making STEM education a national priority to ensure that America’s youth gain the work skills needed to meet the challenges of a complex global economy. In 2011, IMLS and the MacArthur Foundation responded by launching the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums program to support the creation of these spaces in libraries and museums and unite these sites in a national network.

The Urban Libraries Council and the Association of Science-Technology Centers were partners in the effort.


Learning Labs are spaces with programming that allow teens to follow their passions and inspire one another. The Learning Labs model includes the critical role of supportive and knowledgeable mentors, and the spaces include a combination of digital media and traditional tools.

These spaces follow the design principles of connected learning—learning that draws on the power of today’s technology to fuse young people’s interests, friendships, and academic achievement with hands-on production, shared purpose, and open networks.

“Walk into any one of these Learning Labs and you’ll find a space where teens are creating, producing, experimenting, and becoming the makers and innovators our times demand,” said Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the MacArthur Foundation. “Through this partnership, IMLS has helped to take an experiment that began in Chicago—the YOUmedia teen learning lab at the Harold Washington Public Library—and spread it nationally. We now have 24 exemplary models of how museums and libraries can serve teens, and provide them with learning opportunities that help prepare them for a 21st Century workforce.”

Direct to Full Text Publication: Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums: Transformative Spaces for Teens (24 pages; PDF)

Direct to Executive Summary (2 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.