May 28, 2022

Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia Program Receives More Than $1 Million in New Public and Private Investments, More Labs Planned

From the Chicago Public Library and City of Chicago:

2017-04-08_18-34-52Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Library (CPL) Commissioner Brian Bannon, the Chicago Public Library Foundation and BMO Harris Bank CEO Dave Casper today announced significant investments in the Library’s YOUmedia program for teens.

Private support, highlighted by a $1 million gift over three years from BMO Harris Bank to the Chicago Public Library Foundation, as well as generous support from Allstate, will specifically support YOUmedia programming.

Due to the popular demand and heavy utilization of YOUmedia, which currently operates teen digital media labs in 12 libraries, the City of Chicago plans to expand YOUmedia to 17 library locations by 2018.

“YOUmedia is about empowering teens by exposing them to technology and encouraging them to innovate and create—investing in this program is investing in our teens and the future of our city,” Mayor Emanuel said. “I’m grateful for corporate partners like BMO Harris Bank that are stepping up for Chicago’s youth.”

YOUmedia, a nationally recognized program, builds on young people’s interest in technology and creating by connecting them with skilled mentors to engage them in active learning in a teens-only space. The free media labs and programs use the Connected Learning model to create links between students’ academic studies, their personal passions, and opportunities to engage with peers who support and share their interests. YOUmedia also offers teens access to mentors and librarians who share their expertise in various areas of digital media production.

In 2016, CPL witnessed a nearly 15 percent increase in general attendance at YOUmedia locations, numbering 45,772 sessions. 

Programs and workshops focus on career exploration, science, fashion, making, using 3D printers and laser cutters, music production, photography, animation and graphic design. At its core, YOUmedia is about helping teens explore their interests and their identity by providing them access to a production-oriented environment.

“These significant gifts, combined with the increased support from the City, will enable us to expand our successful and vital programming for teens into more neighborhoods,” said Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “By offering teens their own space in our community libraries, we’re connecting our young people to technology, resources and mentors that encourage success in school and in life.”

CPL piloted YOUmedia in 2009 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur and Pearson foundations, to the Chicago Public Library Foundation; the program has now been emulated in 30 cities nationwide. Programming at four of Chicago’s 12 locations targets middle school students, while the other eight, including the flagship YOUmedia site in the Harold Washington Library Center, are designed for high school students.

“The Chicago Public Library should be commended for putting together such an innovative and engaging approach to independent learning,” said David Casper, President and CEO, BMO Harris Bank. “Our children are our future, and with our donation of $1 million, we are very pleased to play our part in helping to expand access to the YOUmedia teen program.”

An additional gift of $250,000 from Allstate to the Chicago Public Library Foundation will also support YOUmedia programming. With its partners at the Library Foundation, CPL is able to leverage private dollars to offer innovative programming citywide.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.