The little “burger and fries” joke here may not be all that amusing to today’s librarians, but it’s a reality that a place for whispering is often the public perception, or at least, memory, of libraries. This recent New York Times article aims to update that notion, with stories about today’s range of offerings from public libraries, including makerspaces, garden plots, and new spaces for teens:
Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond (March 7, 2014, Katharine Q. Seelye)
A new-to-me phrase caught my eye in the description of the Boston Public Library’s teen room:
“That will be evident at the Boston library’s new section for teenagers. Teen Central is to become what is known as “homago” space — where teenagers can “hang out, mess around and geek out.” It will include lounges, restaurant booths, game rooms and digital labs, as well as software and equipment to record music and create comic books.”
I’m familiar with the idea of this space, but “homago” was new to me! I love a new way of thinking about kids and technology and libraries. The phrase is a reference to the report, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media, by Mizuko Ito and the Digital Youth Project. The three levels of engagement that comprise the homago nickname are (according to Ito), the friendship-driven hanging out; messing around, or an exploration of content creation through games and digital media; and the more sophisticated creative and interest-driven skill development of geeking around.
Here are links to that project, including the full-text .pdf:
free .pdf download here: https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/free_download/9780262013369%20_Hanging_Out.pdf
And as it would turn out, “homago” isn’t all that new a term. Maybe it’s used more frequently in the public library space? The idea is a specific iteration of a more general effort in libraries to welcome young people into the library as a third space, where they can feel free and inspired to pursue informal learning through communication, information seeking and use, and creative endeavors. It’s lifelong learning driven by social and personal interests, and supported by space and technology.
Do you have a homago space in your school or public library? How might school libraries incorporate these ideas of space for learning and play? Please share in the comments and read more about homago here:
YOUmedia Network, Homago Essentials (space needs for each level): http://youmedia.org/node/120/research/homago-essentials
YALSA Blog homago spaces in public library learning labs: http://yalsa.ala.org/blog/tag/homago/
Mizuko Ito on the levels of homago (activities more than space): http://youtu.be/WjR1dEz-G0g (2:16 video)
Teen HOMAGO Heaven, with photos: http://theworks.nysci.org/post/17380488625/teen-homago-heaven