Project Description

A New Library for Youth: the Space TNT Project

What kind of experiences and spaces do the tween and teens of Seongnam want?

What values, cultures, and attitudes are needed to create experiences and spaces where the needs of young people are discovered and met?

From March 2020 to March 2021, we carried out a new library experiment project for young people with SeeArt.

In the first phase, we imbued the identity of “architect” to the participants. Tweens and teens imagined spaces and activities they would want in a library and designed them in various mediums. Throughout the process, the participants collaborated with peers, real architects, future caretakers of the library, and facilitators.In the second phase, we contemplated what values, attitudes, and culture would be needed to create the ideal youth space.

*The name TNT is a play on words. It stands for Tweens and Teens, but also refers to the explosive potential of these young people.

“You need a space you can trust. In a way, the places we like and go to may all be different, but the feelings everyone feels are probably the same. In the end, I think I like a space where there is trust and comfort.” – TNT teen participants, “Tetris” and “Alice” –
Thus, library services for and with teens in the future are not librarian-based or book-based or even place-based. They are centered on relationships.
–YALSA ‘The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action’-

Project Processes

  • We called our participants “TNT Architects” to give them a sense of ownership of the project.
  • Through co-design workshops with youth-architect-caretaker-facilitator collaboration, the participants designed the experiences and space that they wanted.
  • We shadowed, interviewed, and did journey maps with the teens to understand the context of their lives.
  • Rather than a one-time tour of looking at the completed space, we held a “reflection tour”, where we asked the young people to recall their thoughts and feelings during the design process.
  • We discovered the needs of youth in various ways (including unspoken or unrealized needs) and framed them as 16 unique personas.
  • As a “fellowship” of a new library experiment for young people, we held sessions with the future librarians of the space. This included team-building, case studies, and workplace culture design.

 Project Insights

We learned important points to consider when designing experiences and spaces for young people.

  • To raise the level of participation, imbue an identity and sense of ownership of the project. This will naturally lead to a sense of equal collaboration between the youth and the adults.
  • The experiences and spaces the youth have ownership over begins with trusting relationships with good adults.
  • Aim for a “community design”, which considers not only the generational needs/characteristics of the teen/tween generation, but the regional characteristics and contexts of individual lives as well.
TNT Project Archive