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Project Next Generation - PNG at MCL

Project Next Generation is a mentoring program created by former Secretary of State Jesse White and administered through Illinois public libraries. Project mentors work with middle school and high school students as the participants develop skills to use various technologies, achieve success through project-based learning, and gain life skills such as effective communication, goal-setting, and conflict resolution.

“I am committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth in Illinois,” said White. “I established this innovative program when I first became Secretary of State to give students an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with the latest technological tools at their local library.”

Projects were awarded grants from the Illinois State Library using federal Library Services and Technology Act funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Grants are awarded to public libraries serving culturally diverse, low-income, and underserved populations.

As part of Project Next Generation, Marion Carnegie Library is dedicated to providing access to emerging technology. The library has a host of mentors who work to plan programs and events that will teach technology basics!

Funding for Project Next Generation is provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Secretary of State/Illinois State Library under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

PNG at MCL Programs and Events

All PNG at MCL programs are free and open to ages 10 – 18, and no library card is required to attend.

PNG at MCL events, including Open Lab Hours, are overseen by a mentor who works with participants one-on-one to help them gain skills applicable both in PNG at MCL events and in other facets of life.

You can find a summary of each PNG at MCL program below, and details about all upcoming PNG at MCL events by clicking the “MCL Events Calendar” button!


STEAM Club happens each month and provides access to hands-on experiences related to STEAM careers like coding, engineering, design, and more.

Open Lab Hours

Open Lab Hours are available throughout the week and offer participants a chance to explore all of the technology in the MCL Tech Lab as they create and work on personal projects.

Saturday Sessions

PNG at MCL Saturday Sessions happen each Saturday and offer a variety of subjects ranging from 3D printing and digital art to robotics and beyond.

SI News Bureau

Southern Illinois News Bureau is the newest addition to the PNG at MCL lineup. Youth members of the bureau work with a team from Southern Illinois University and the community to report on stories that impact their lives.

WSIU Availability during Open Lab Hours

WSIU Logo with logos for PBS and NPR

As part of the SI News Bureau, PNG at MCL is proud to offer in-person consultation with Fred Martino, Executive Director of Broadcasting Services at WSIU in Spring 2024! As you prepare to tell your story, visit the MCL Tech Lab for free one-on-one project coaching and guidance from a broadcasting expert with over 20 years of experience.

Martino is always available via email at and will be live and in-person in MCL’s Tech Lab during Open Lab Hours on these dates:

  • Tuesday, March 26
  • Tuesday, April 30
  • Tuesday, May 28
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Find out all about the PNG at MCL program, including available resources, on the PNG at MCL website.
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