Teen Tech Week 2007: Are you ready to podcast?

In preparation for Teen Tech Week March 4-10, 2007, we would like to take away any trepidation that teen librarians and educators may have about generating a podcast. There are many web sites that will assist with the process, but some of them are so intimidating. Fear no more, one visit to the Teen Tech Week wiki resource page and you will get inspired.

The wiki is chock full of excellent information, like the Podcast Education link where you can listen to samples of student podcasts. You will become a podcast aficionado that in no time you will be able to record, produce and publish your own podcasts in preparation for the launch of TTW 2007. Don’t forget, if you want to add any links to the resource page, please do so.

Visit the Teen Tech Week wiki resource page, and soon you will be podcast savvy, the envy of all of your colleagues and a hit among of your Teens.

Homework Help-Word of mouth?

Tinfoil Raccoon has an excellent post about the recently released report from the National Education Association in relation to homework help and reaching out to teens one evening at the library in ways that are relevant to their lives:

-Thursday gaming night
-discussion about a gaming magazine, what RPGs they play, and what anime/manga clubs exist in the area
-promoting the library’s IM homework help

Reaching out to the community about library services through casual conversation is also mentioned in Tinfoil’s post.

My coworker often tells me stories of reading manga at a restaurant and promoting the library because someone is interested in what he is reading.

What works well for you?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Filter Bypassing

A recent thread on YALSA Book Listserv has librarians discussing a site that uses PHP to access filtered web sites such as Myspace. This is my response, and does not reflect YALSA.

When I was a teen, I used my school library regularly. My eighth grade year the new media center was finished, and a nice computer lab was attached. While the rules were clearly posted: No food, No Internet, and No games, I and many of my friends found many ways around it. We installed programs on the computer and placed them in folders that didn’t display on the desktop or start menu. While I regret what I did now, the fact that I did it remains the same. At the time I thought the rules were unfair and stupid. Even if someone had taken the time to tell me that games were a waste of time I would have protested and continued on.

Fast forward to today. Teens aren’t trying to play time wasting games, they are trying to waste time making new friends, sharing information before they forget it, and use Internet resources that we have no clue how it will benefit them in the future.

No one could know all those years ago that I would be able to volunteer in Second Life, create a web site www.mbmpl.org, and give presentations about online communities. Who knows what these teens will do in just ten years, let alone 20.

While the teachers and parents in us wants so much to protect the teens from even themselves our efforts to keep things from them will only make it more desirable. Online predators have been around since IM has been around. I was confronted with unwanted advances, but I always ignored them. I remembered as a little kid watching a movie about a 30 year old man who kidnapped a boy by asking him to look for a puppy. I also remembered reading The Face on the Milk Carton. Earlier this year I found a video at NetSmartz. At this site there are many resources for teens and concerned adults. This is just one of many sites that have a focus on helping teens understand online safety.

Others have said this before I have, but filtering will do absolutely no good for teens. It only makes parents and others feel like they are protecting the ones they care about. In order to progress into the future and stop repeating the cycle of filtering and banning we have to learn how to instill trust in young adults. I think that the first step is helping them understand why we want to protect them, and give them knowledge about how to be safe. Ultimately it will be their decision, and part of growing up is taking responsibility for your actions. In some ways we are robbing a generation of the important developmental need to make educated decisions and learn from their mistakes.

Playing Video Games teaches its players how to take calculated risks. How to approach obstacles and overcome them. Filters are perceived as an obstacle, and as long as teens have filters imposed by librarians, school administration, and even society it will be a challenge they will work together as a team to defeat. I for one do not want to be seen as a level boss to be over come. I’d much rather be considered someone they can trust, someone who cares about them, and someone who chooses to provide them with information to allow them to make educated decisions.

In the future just as in the past there will be more things that parents will fear will harm their children. We can look at history to see that we have made mistakes all the time, in both extremes. There has been a lot of research about the educational benefits of gaming and the online communication of the sites like Myspace. While there will always be extremists who are on both side of every issue, I think it is our duty as librarians to provide people with accurate information no matter our personal convictions. While a year ago I would have told you its better to only provide one side of the issue, thus force your opinion on them. Now I understand that if what I believe has any true value providing someone with the truth will allow them to make the decision for themselves as well. Its why extremists never are able to persuade enough people to cause lasting positive change.

Teen Tuesdays

18th Months ago the community of Bon Air Regional Libarary in Louisville, experienced a radical change in demographics. Now every afternoon they have dozens of teens at their library, teens they didn’t know how to serve.

So Geneva Huttenlocher took the incentive and started a series of programs held every Tuesday afternoon. She pooled on the resources of the other staff members and on members of the community bringing in Police Officers, Chefs, Artists, and more. They worked with the local school to start a basketball tournament. The librarians at the library took risks and developed a rapport with the teens that helped to lessen problems at the library, but also serve as role models.

This library is an inspiration, and as stated at their presentation at the Kentucky Library Association “they took a bad situation and turned it into a wonderful opportunity”

Community inspiration

I met this evening with the owner of a local bookstore who frequently tells me the story of not really being a reader growing up but was inspired by a teacher to read and opened up his own bookstore, moved over 600 miles to call it home, and does amazing outreach with the community. He goes by the name of Jaz. Next week, he’ll be accompanying me to the Freedom Reads! bookclub at Jail-North.
If anyone can inspire these young men at Jail-North in this community, Jaz can.

I am reminded of a recent conversation with Amy Cheney, librarian and founder of Write to Read, who encouraged me to give these young men (16-17 year olds) the best that I can give them.

I’ll keep you posted. Feel free to share your own outreach stories with incarcerated youth.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Virtual Reality Worlds = Serious Addiction Problems?

If you’re involved in any way with teens using the Internet, you probably will want to take a look at this new survey conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project on the future of the Internet in 2020. 742 respondents were asked to agree or disagree with a set of eight scenarios. Top leaders, activists and commentators were chosen to participate in this web-based survey.

While each of the eight scenarios could impact the next generation, the one about virtual reality peeked my interest. Participants were asked to respond to whether vr will lead to more productivity or serious addiction problems.

The respondents reactions were interesting-especially on p.55 about concerns toward youth culture and vr:

“take a close look at finding ways to provide guidance to young
people as they create their alternate, online personalities.”


“Addiction to chat rooms and online gaming worlds is already emerging as an issue. Recent research has highlighted for example, how teenagers’ ability to learn during school hours is being impacted by a lack of sleep – caused by late-night SMS/chat sessions. There is a real risk that some people will become ‘lost’ to virtual worlds.”

Discussions of what vr even is, and comparisons to books, television, and film are also made. A KidZone/Teachers guide regarding the future and history of information sharing can be found here.

What do we think of these predictions? Should we be concerned?

Here are two other recent articles on the addiction of video games. From Business Week Online: It’s Addictive! Or is It? and a preview from the New Scientist; Hooked, Why Your Brain is Primed for Addiction.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Privacy – Who Needs It? Teens That’s Who

There’s an interesting article in Newsweek titled My Turn Online: Leave Kids Alone on the Web. The author focuses on the topic of privacy and why everyone needs opportunities for private moments and actions – including actions on the web. While I know librarians are working hard to promote social networking, in my experience we tend to focus on pointing out to parents how important it is to be aware of what a teen is doing online and even creating My Space spaces in order to find out what teens are doing within that social network.

This article takes a little bit different perspective and highlights the importance of parent awareness and involvement, but also emphasizes the importance of giving teens the opportunity to be private about their lives. The author does a good job explaining why privacy is important but doesn’t go so far as to say let your teen run wild on the Internet.

This article is worth adding to the collection of materials libraries are putting together in order to support teen use of social networking and articulate why DOPA is not an answer to teen safety online.

Engaging Youth On Their Own Terms: IM and Gaming in Libraries

SirsiDynix Web Seminar
Tuesday, October 10, 8am Pacific Time

“Attempting to mold young library users into miniature librarians is an unfair and often futile goal. To meet their needs and ensure our institutions are supported in the future, we must listen to them! Join Aaron Schmidt and Sarah Houghton as they discuss ways to serve teens on their own turf, by creating a teen-friendly environment in your physical library and in your library’s eBranch, and by providing the resources and services teens want, when and where they want them. Other topics discusses will be MySpace, iPods, and weblogs.”

Sarah and Aaron are excellent-don’t miss this one if you don’t have to but SirsiDynix’s seminar’s are recorded if you’re not able to make this one live.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki