Recruiting for your Teen Advisory Board/Group

Posted by Kendra Skellen TAGS Committee member, Gwinnett County Public Library

Recruiting for your Teen Advisory Board/Group
Recruiting teens to be a part of your Teen Advisory Board (Group) can be one of the most maddening yet worthwhile tasks you will have in creating or maintaining a TAB. Being teens it will be a constantly changing group. The teens will become interested in other activities or, gasp, grow older over the years and outgrow the group. However, with good recruitment tools in place you will never lack for those new teens to replace those you have lost.

Open to all or by Invitation

You need to decide what is best for your library. Open recruitment to all interested teens will give you a group with a wide range of interests. It can also give you more teens than you may want in your group. Membership by invitation will be a lot more work, but will limit the number of teens you have to work with. It may also give you a group of teens who are more responsible for they are teens who have been recommended to you by your peers in the community.

Your choice of open recruitment or recruitment by invitation may be determined by what your plans are for the TAG. Will the group be advising you in materials selection? Will they be planning and presenting programs in the library? Will the group be more involved with getting teens into the library for fun activities? What will be their purpose?

Once you have determined the purpose of you TAG, you can then make a determination of how you would like to recruit the members.

Next installment: Open Recruitment

take part in Virtual Library Legislative Day!

On May 1st and 2nd librarians and library workers from all over the country will head to Washington DC for Library Legislative Day. Once there they will meet with elected officials and/or their staff in order to: 1) advocate for adequate library funding, 2) educate decision makers about key issues facing the field of librarianship, 3) raise awareness about the key role that libraries of all types play in a democratic society, and more. For those of you who are unable to make the trip to DC, we ask that you please consider participating virtually. Information on how to do so is here:
http://www.ala.org/ala/washoff/washevents/nlld/vertld.htm

YALSA has put together a quick guide that may be useful as you communicate with decision makers about the needs of teens and issues relating to young adult library services. Please note that these are just a starting point and are not meant to be a comprehensive list or detailed discussion of critical issues. We also recognize that needs can vary from community to community, so no doubt you will have more to add or emphasize.

So, please set aside a few minutes next Monday or Tuesday to email, call or fax your legislators and let them know your concerns about libraries and YA librarianship!
-Beth Yoke

Avatars and Self Image

In today’s society technology allows us to assume different pseudonyms. I think that librarians can sometimes be weary of this because it can be very unfamiliar, so I have composite an animated gif, that displays all of the different images I use to label myself.

Avatars
First I have my favorite webcomic- Dominic Deegan. I have been reading it for years, and become an active participant on the forums. I don’t really wear t-shirts but I have one from Mookie (the creator). Web comics are a part of my day. The first thing I do every morning is check the updates. (some nights I’ve stayed up until 3 am to catch it) In addition to reading the comic I am part of the online community of fans on the forums. We have interesting conversations and activities, the most recent being a caption contest, and before that I held a trivia contest. I will never meet my friends from the forum but to me they are the avatars and the screennames. Its how I would address them in public and online.

Second I have my name. In all definitions this is also a representation of me. When I publish, fill out a form, or introducing myself, I am representing who I am with random syllables and letters essentially. It is one of the conventions we accept in all cultures, some change to reflect the person while others are given with an ideal in mind(whether the memory of a loved one or story character, or a verb/noun that represents something wanted for the child)

Third is a picture of my husband and I. He has his arms around me in a loving embrace. The picture was taken at our anniversary. I am smiling (something I tend to do frequently).

Fourth is the word “is”. Such a powerful word. Is can link words together to describe poetically, hatefully, or simply. It can be anywhere, but it is the word that links all the other words of a sentence.

Avatars

Eiseldora Next we have my gnome. Isn’t she cute? My husband drooled and waited for almost a year to get World of Warcraft, and guess what happens. I take it over after my finals on Christmas break to create a level 33 fire mage in about 17 days. I am an officer in the “Little League” Guild, and caretaker of noobs. My two best friends are Zwws a Chinese grad student from Canada, and Ihalfaman a Australian master’s student who programs computers. This may seem odd to people who don’t play but for me its a whole different world where I can meet people, work together to finish goals, and have fun. The lag is terrible, but I kept returning because I love what I can be there. I think this is a big appeal to teens.

Next we have Eiseldora II. I loved playing World of Warcraft so much that I kept the name for Second Life. I joined after hearing the announcement that there was going to be a library in the game. I wanted to be able to go in and see what the plans were. I started out with a normal looking avatar, but I didn’t like it. I tried to get dark blue hair with two little buns like my gnome, but while playing I found I could add any texture to my hair, so I did. I thought the Flag looked very funny so I took it as far as I could go-spikes, length, volume. Now I look like a crazed Yu-gi-oh, but I like the expression of creativity involved.

Salafy is a Naroom Magi who specializes in regenerating creatures. She is excellent with baby furoks(another avatar I use often), eebits, and rabbage. She is from the 2i game Magi-Nation. A CCG that is now sold to a different company that is taking it in a different direction. The game was more than just collecting card and making decks. I was a member of a league when I was dating my husband. I made many friends, and was able to mentor a 12 year old girl. I would spend weeks building deck, and succeeded in getting a killer combination with Ninx and a Ritual Spear. My husband loved the story’s written about the cards, and the fan base who lived on insiider. Like Dominic Deegan I have a t-shirt with Salafy on the back.

Avatars

Next I placed my username. The one I use most often is kittykat813. I have since I first used the Internet. I love cats, and I wanted something unique and nice sounding. 813 stands for my birthday-August 13th. About a year and a half ago I started to do publish my professional work on the net. I was taking an independent study reading children’s literature which I abbreviated childlit and 2004 for the year. I liked it and the account I used so I’ve been childlit2004, childlit, and childlit513, ironic since I want to be a teen librarian. The 513 stands for my anniversary May 13th.

Now you can see my adorable cat-Frisky. She has been with me since I was in 7th grade. She is very vocal, and precious. I used to write stories about her and to her. She is a great listener, and still loves to play. My whole life she has competed for my attention from books. Now she is content because my husband loves her as much as I do. (He is the only male she has ever even liked) I used pictures of her for my first avatars. She was something that was important to me, and didn’t really identify me.

The smiley face represents many things to me. The eyes are the way my friend Tracy would write smilies. Smiles also represent instant messengers. I have been using ICQ for 8 years. I met a good friend who had the same username, school, and age as my husband. Smilies also represent for me happiness and joy, something I like to enjoy often.

Lastly we have a book. Books have helped me my entire life. When my mother was ill I escaped into books, when I was sad I would write books, when I went to 8th grade I found a profound joy in reading books, in college I found a joy in sharing books, now I enjoy listening to books while I play. I am a library science student, and love technology, but its books that I will always credit for helping me through my life.

This has been a rather lengthy divulge into my online life. I know most people don’t see deep into avatars, and there is no real reason to. Its just that for a whole generation we identify with these self made images that show the world who we are, what we care about, and what we want to do. I encourage librarians to make an avatar or a username that represents them and use it online when doing virtual reference, blogging, or as links on your library’s webpage.

Posted by Jami Schwarzwalder

My Space Security Through Staff and Advertising

Posted by Linda W. Braun

Last week My Space announced that beginning May 1 they will have a Security Officer on staff. The job was given to Hemanshu Nigam – formerly of Microsoft and the U.S. Justice Department.

This hiring coincides with an advertising campaign My Space is initiating along with The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and others, to educate about the possible dangers of online community.

Ever since I heard about the hiring of a security officer at My Space I’ve been thinking about the balance adults need to help teenagers reach. I’m talking about the balance between the ability to feel empowered to make choices (and sometimes bad choices) and the need to keep teenagers safe from the dangers the online world potentially brings.

I’m not sure a security officer and public service announcements is the way to go in order to strike this balance. It’s very similar to tactics used for other areas in which teens must make decisions that relate to their health and safety – drugs and cigarettes come to mind. Do statistics show that the PSAs teens see and hear help them to make smart decisions in these areas?

Of course the people teens trust in their lives really have the key to helping make good decisions. These include:

  • Trusted librarians who listen to what teens have to say about their use of the technology before making judgments.
  • Trusted librarians that are willing to test out the technology before jumping to conclusions.
  • Trusted librarians who advocate for teens and their use of technology.
  • Trusted librarians who think about how technology supports teen developmental assets and see technology use as more than passive entertainment.

These librarians perhaps help teens to make good choices better than a security officer or PSAs ever can.

Before the ad campaign and the security officer go to work I hope the people involved don’t make assumptions about teens.

  • They need to know that teens have the ability to reason and make good decisions.
  • They need to know that teens don’t automatically go to the dark side just because they are teens.
  • They need to know that teens often know the rules of Internet safety and know how far they can go in order to remain safe.

A picture of a teen on My Space does not automatically mean that the teen who posted the image is going to decide to rendezvous with the next anonymous stranger she meets at the site.

If you haven’t heard about My Space enough at this point – it sure is in the news a lot these days. There was an interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times about how the online community is going to be connecting with and displaying advertising on the site.

Literacy

In one of my classes today we were talking about literacy statistics from the D. C. Literacy Clearinghouse. We were all shocked to find out that the number of adults with low-literacy abilities are quite high. In 1996, Approximately twenty-five of American Adults could not read well enough to address an envelop correctly. Forty-three percent of adults that are at the lowest level of literacy proficiency live in poverty, while only four percent of individuals with strong literacy skills are considered poor. The Ohio Literacy Resource Center reported that fifty percent of the nation’s chronically unemployed are not functionally literate.

What does this mean for young adult librarians? First we must recognized that individuals in the library, reading material is a good thing. It doesn’t matter that the girls are reading what we would consider trash, and the boys are going through car magazines. I remember high school English as being the most boring thing on earth, because all of the assigned reading was classics that didn’t even use the English I spoke everyday with my friends. I loved reading the YA novels that were in my high school media center, along with children’s books, chick lit, and comics. I would have people judge me for not really enjoying the classics, and now I look back and see I was the one who was right. Reading is reading.

Another thing we must realize, especially those just entering the profession and still in school, is that the people that walk in you door may not be able to read, and it may be extremely embarrassing to tell another adult that. We can’t assume that writing down a call number or directions will meet the patrons needs. It can be hard to remember sometimes that a college education isn’t normal, in fact a high school diploma may not even be the norm. The national average for high school drop out rates is one in three. That means that those teens that may be in the library causing you problems maybe the same adult that doesn’t know how to help their child in 10-20 years with homework, because they can’t read the materials. Engaging them somehow, and working with them may be a better idea than judging them for being teens (socializing, exploring different interests, and pushing the limits).

I think the library should be an inviting place for these teens to come and feel free to find themselves. It doesn’t matter if they are reading novels, or even reading at all, because the message you send when you let them have the space, and access to the information could tell them “You have a chance to make something of yourself. You are welcome in the library as you, and can use any of the information here how you want. You can even find pleasure by reading, which you may not find at school.” Who knows they could be not reading at the library because they have to read all day for school and they don’t have the time, but when they do have the time there the books will be right in reach.

Lastly I wanted to point out that all of the studies about literacy and child performance state that low literacy is a cycle. It affects parents who have to work extra jobs to make ends met when they don’t have the skills to have a higher paying job. The attitude that school is hard, and there is no help gets passed on to the children. Low literacy is also associated with poor health, since the parents can’t understand the medical advice given, or read the labels on the medicine. The most effective way to increase a child’s performance is to increase the education level of the parent’s. As librarians we can be human with our patrons, show them that we aren’t different from them. To break the cycle a child needs someone to go to for help with homework and encouragement. Middle school tends to be the place where poorly educated parents are no longer able to help their child and I think many libraries have great programs to help both students and adults, but it is important that we encourage it as acceptable.

You can make a difference in lives, but the impact you make maybe so small you may not realize it. Sharing your passion for reading with both parents and teens, as well as you willingness to help, openness to the teens suggestions, and commitment to creating great programs and selecting quality and popular titles, can make the difference between an illiterate adult who reads at a fifth grade or below level, and a college graduate. It is the connections with people that help make the library dynamic, so please make connections, and remember on the bad days you are doing good things.

Rantings by Jami Schwarzwalder
Statistics from D. C. Literacy Clearinghouse

Second Life Library 2.0

Alliance Library System has started a Second Life project. They have created a library within the game, that people can use as meeting place.

Second Life Library 2.0

As part of the library they are going to offer different programs such as a Book Discussion group on Tuesday nights, and live events. This morning they had their first Library program hosted by the Johnson County Library KS as part of the Librarian’s Continuing Education Seminar Series. They featured David King who spoke about how IT and librarians can talk each others language. For more information on upcoming events visit the official blog

Lori Bell

Lori Bell originally had the idea, and now a group has began to help her. For more information about participating with the library you can join thier Google Group

Second Life Library 2.0

I encourage everyone to take a risk and try something new like Lori, together we can make great ideas into reality. I think that is what organizations are for.

The images are from the Second Life Flicker Group. The first one is the library, and the second is the avatar for Lori. I included the last picture (me with a box on my head) because it is an example of me looking completely unprofessional, when I did not know how to open a box. Do not let the technology intimidate you. So what does it matter that I got a box on my head. I took it off and someone helped me open it. That is what people do, and as librarians, I think we need to remember that it is all right to look dumb sometimes. Those moments teach us what we need to know.

posted by Jami Schwarzwalder aka Eiseldora Reisman

More reasons for TAGS

Judy Macaluso TAGS Committee Member Ocean County Library

Today’s Millenial Generation wants to give back to their community and to become involved in things that affect them. Our library has been very successful by our TAGS being a community service opportunity and for teens to earn volunteer hours for their participation. And when that concept is carried forward into meetings where they learn that their ideas count and programs they want can and will happen and they are making a difference – it’s a win-win for sure. It is good to keep in mind that teens influence not only their peers, but their parents and adults as well. A meaningful experience for them being a library TAG member can have an unforeseen ripple effect. Positive news about the library, it’s activities and staff gets communicated to others. An unorthodox, but effective public relations strategy for sure! What are your thoughts about TAGS being a community service opportunity?

Why Teen Advisory Groups in Libraries?”

Judy Macaluso TAGS Committee Member Ocean County Library

Reason #1:Simply said working WITH teens is working FOR teens in the most developmentally appropriate and effective way. Teens on their way to adulthood are getting into the game of life – voicing an opinion, formulating an idea, making a plan, taking action, dealing with success and failure and making a difference. Teens want to do – not be done to. That is youth participation and that is what YALSA and Teen Librarians espouse.

Reason #2: Libraries are truly part of their community’s youth development support system. TAG’s are like Scouts, 4-H, Clubs, etc. By practicing youth participation with TAG’s libraries make young lives better – and that’s the whole point – isn’t it? Libraries that make lives better make a community better.

Reason #3: Rapidly changing fads, trends and interests – libraries have to know or they fall flat on their face. Teen Librarians need to be in touch with the unique teens in their unique community with their unique interests. Why have collections, programs and services that do not meet needs. Bottom Line: Libraries need to provide value and meaning by being in touch with the community we serve.

Reading Patrick Jones’s New Directions in Library Services to Young Adults is a great inspiration as well as Diane Tuccillo’s VOYA Guide – Library Teen Advisory Boards. And a valuable websites is http://www.jervislibrary.org/yaweb/TAGs.html

What would reason #4 be from your point of view?