The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Labsy awards recognize teens' creativity.

It’s a world where the chairs in your local library come alive at night and they only have one object: finding kids to consume.

It must be a movie created by teens for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s annual Labsy Awards.

Chairpocalypse 2—the sequel to last year’s epic video about hungry upholstery—is just one creative entry in this year’s Labsy Awards for local teen multi-media arts and maker creations. Labsy winners, and winners of the Ralph Munn Awards for teens’ creative writing, will be recognized August 6 from 7-10 p.m. at the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater.

So Chairpocalypse doesn’t star Kevin Spacey, or even Kevin Smith. The point is that teens are learning how to use video shooting and editing equipment, and getting creative outside of school. The kids who made Chairpocalypse spent the early part of this summer in The Labs at Carnegie Library’s main branch learning to use its high-tech tools, then stuck around when the library was empty to make the chairs come alive on screen.

“We just shut our library down after hours and let them go crazy,” says Maggie Craig, youth services librarian at the Carnegie’s Carrick branch.

She means the kids, of course, not the people-eating furniture.

Labsy Awards come in five categories: original songs, digitally designed artwork, a maker project (from a coded game to something crafted), photography on this year’s theme of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, and an original film or video. First prize in each category is $250, second prize $100.

The Munn Awards, honoring a former director who made great strides in improving youth services, are offered in poetry, screenwriting and short prose, both fiction and creative nonfiction. The contest is judged by local writers, with youth librarians choosing additional pieces as honorable mentions for a bound anthology—including a cover by a local teen—that goes to all winners and all Carnegie libraries.

The library received 400 submissions from high school students in Allegheny County this year. “A lot of teenagers are very inclined to poetry,” Craig says, not to mention fiction about dystopias and personal essays that describe journeys of self-discovery.

The awards ceremony keeps the creativity going, with activity stations and entertainment by Teen Underground Café.

Marty Levine

Marty Levine's journalism has appeared in Time, Salon.com and throughout Pennsylvania and has won awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, The Press...