Scarborough library features vintage technology for Teen Tech Week

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SCARBOROUGH — The library is going old school for Teen Tech Week.

“We’re keeping it somewhat vintage,” Celeste Shinay, manager of programming and development at the Scarborough Public Library, said.

And she means it.

The library next week will have two days of “mix-and-mash” technology events highlighting old technology such as typewriters, reel-to-reel audio tapes and even a Nintendo 64, and comparing them with current technology, such as iPhones and laptop computers.

The first event, on March 8, from 2:30-5:30 p.m., is a 60-second story-writing game where participants play a sort of musical chairs, sitting for 60 seconds at a variety of keyboards, from the carbon-paper typewriter to the laptop computer, writing one sentence every minute. Then they’ll move to the next keyboard and write the next sentence for that story.

“Everyone will add a sentence to each story,” Youth Services Librarian Louise Capizzo said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The idea is that students will experience what it was like to try to compose on a keyboard with no backspace. The Remington typewriter they’ll use calls itself a “Quietriter,” but the clacking of its keys gives away its age.

Shinay recalled learning to type on a similar typewriter.

“I was messing around on it before class and the teacher saw me typing without paper. She told me I was disrespecting the equipment because the ink was going into the back plate instead of onto paper,” Shinay said.

She laughed, too, recalling the many essays she had to rewrite because of typos.

“It’s important for today’s kids to see how technology has progressed,” Shinay said.

On March 10, from 2:30-5:30 p.m., the library has a “Reel to Reel Reverb” event planned, where participants will be able to record themselves on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Capizzo said she has written up fairy tales for the teens to act out as they read them into the recorder. They’ll be able to see how the equipment works and play around with their own versions of classic fairy tales.

“We’re hoping they’ll get their thespian on,” Shinay said.

Capizzo’s husband will turn the tapes into CDs for the participants to keep, if they want.

While typewriters and tape decks are amusing, both Shinay and Capizzo expect the old video games will be the biggest attraction to teenagers.

The library has several Nintendo 64 game consoles, a black-and-white hand-held video game and several other “ancient” video games that teens will be able to use  during the week.

“So many video games started as books,” Capizzo said. “There’s just all these connections.”

Both Capizzo and Shinay said they want teenagers to have a personal connection with the library, to enjoy themselves while they’re there, and to have a safe place to be productive and have fun.

“These are going to be our future taxpayers. If their only memory of the library is preschool story hour, they’re not going to be as supportive of the library in the future,” Capizzo said.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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Youth Services Librarian Louise Capizzo, left, and Programming and Development Manager Celeste Shinay try out the old-school video game technology that will be available for teens during the Scarborough Public Library’s take on national Teen Tech Week.

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