Operations

In this section we provide details of some of the day-to-day questions you may have about operating a YOUmedia or Learning Lab. Issues pertaining to operations include the procurement and maintenance of equipment, developing budgets, rules for conduct and the appropriate role for security.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q How do we develop a budget for YOUmedia?

Consider developing a three-year budget and include costs related to personnel, equipment, build-out of space, programming, operating, supplies, contracts, staff development, travel, evaluation, marketing, indirect costs (rent, furniture, repairs and maintenance, legal fees, utilities etc.).

The budget will also depend on whether you’re starting out with raw space or with finished space. If you’re starting out with raw space, of course your costs will be greater.

YOUmedia at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago has been open since summer 2009. The budget included building out the space, design work, electrical work and putting in new flooring, as well as for furniture, cameras, printers, piano keyboards, and other equipment. The budget was generous the first year the center was in operation, and adequate in subsequent years.

It’s important to devote enough money for staffing. It’s not the technology, it’s not the furniture, it’s the well-trained adults that make YOUmedia a success.

Spending enough money on security is also important. And it is vital to budget enough money for upgrades and replacement of equipment, as well as on books and computer software.

Here's two sample budgets. The first is for a smaller branch library, and the second is a sample budget for a larger space (approx. 5,500 square feet and on the main library campus):

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Q What equipment do we need?

Equipment lists will differ from place to place depending on the needs.  Here are examples of equipment lists.

2 Comments
Q How often do we have to replace the furniture?

So far, the furniture at the longest-running YOUmedia space, which has been in operation for three years, hasn’t had to be replaced, but all the couches and chairs have been reupholstered. The fabric on the couches and chairs was replaced with a darker and much more durable fabric.

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Q What are the busiest times?

The busiest times will depend on where the YOUmedia is located.

After school from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. are the peak hours at the Chicago YOUmedia at Harold Washington Library. Another busy time is during the “Lyricist Lost” event, which is an “open mic” night every Wednesday at 5 p.m. During that time, any teenager can come in and perform music or poetry in the YOUmedia space, and sometimes as many as 100 teens show up.

At the Hirshhorn in Washington DC, the busiest times are on weekends.

Q What are appropriate hours?

Most spaces are open after school during the week and more limited weekend hours--although the busiest times at ARTlab+ at the Hirshhorn Museum are on weekends. It all depends on your partner organization and location. 

Currently the YOUmedia in Chicago’s Harold Washington Library is open Monday through Thursday from 1-8 p.m., on Saturday from 12-5 p.m., and on Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

Take note: The space was originally open until 9 p.m. on weekdays, but public transit bus passes expire at 8 p.m. and most teens use public transit so they closed earlier.

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Q What are guidelines for conduct?

The most important guideline for conduct is “respect yourself, respect others, and respect the space.”  it's good to post the guidelines so there’s no confusion.

YOUmedia in Chicago employs a “three strikes you’re out” policy. Teens can be suspended for a day, and then allowed back.  At that point, building security will talk to them and they may be asked to leave the space for a month or two months. It’s determined on a case-by-case basis. Parents are also called.

Here's a sample of YOUmedia Chicago's general conduct guidelines [PDF].

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Q What role does security play?

At the YOUmedia space at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, one security guard works during the week and another works on weekends. He sometime sits at a security desk, but he is also constantly walking through the space and has a good relationship with the teens. The teens know him by his first name. He talks to them about eating snacks in the proper area or he’ll also take care of any disciplinary issues. He’ll ask adults to leave the space (adults can check out books, but they’re not supposed to stay in the YOUmedia space.) In an ideal situation, the staff at the YOUmedia site in Chicago would like to hire one more security guard for the times when they have big events and more teens show up.

Q How does checkout and reservations work?

Checking out equipment such as laptops, games, and digital cameras can be complex, especially for institutions that do not have a circulation already in place. YOUmedia at the Chicago Public Library uses a student’s library card and another form of ID to keep track of equipment. At ARTLAB+, participants complete a Google Doc when checking out equipment such as laptops, games, and digital cameras at the front desk.

Chicago YOUmedia's Taylor Bayless talks specifics in this video.

Plus: Here's a link to the ARTlab+ checkout procedures.

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