CopyBot controversy

Wikipedia has a short overview explaining CopyBot and the controversy that ensued mainly on Second Life about it. In a nutshell, the controversy came in when people were using this tool called CopyBot, which was originally created with good intentions-to use as a backup tool for saving information on your hard drive. The controversy came in when it was being used to “replicate avatar appearances without the content creator’s permission” as well as other objects.

Copyright issues are well known in libraries. As the 3D Web becomes more prevalent, how will issues such as CopyBot affect teens? Will similar tools keep being created? Copyright may be understood in completely different terms to teens growing up today.

To become more familiar with CopyBot, check out the following resources:

Use of CopyBot and Similar Tools by Cory Linden

libsecondlife (creators of CopyBot)

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Second Life Adventures in Learning

Next Tuesday, December 5, 8:45amGMT, Young Adult Librarian Jean Gardner, from the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library will be presenting with other Kansas partners on their project in Second Life entitled, “Teaching & Learning in Massively Multiplayer Virtual Worlds: Second Life Adventures in Learning.” The audio stream will be available here or in-world at Pietros Place (Yora 70, 150). Jean will be talking about her project with youth in which book club members create and share SL resources based on Fahrenheit 451.

More virtual world news:

According to a BBC news article today, “Virtual Pals Soar in Importance” which talks about new directions the Internet is heading.

Look for Anastasia Goodstein’s (ypulse) BusinessWeek column next week where she writes about teens and virtual reality environments in terms of developmental theories.

Librarians (several YALSA members) and partners on InfoIsland in Second Life are gearing up for Cybrary City open house next Wednesday, 2:30pPST. Cybrary City is sponsored by Talis and is a virtual training space for librarians and a place for groups to come together that are working on different projects. There are several presences of virtual library services for teens in Cybrary City.

Virtual online travel agency. Check it out! Synthravels offers guided tours of virtual worlds. You pick the date, time, destination, have the program downloaded on your computer-and that’s it! Runescape, World of Warcraft, Second Life, There, and more (over 25!) What better way to understand why teens find these virtual worlds so compelling.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Podcasting Made Easy

As a library consultant I miss working with teens (especially doing fun programs with them!) and putting my hands on great young adult literature, Doing an online author chat with a young adult author certainly modeled the process and technology to youth services librarians, but it was also a great way to get back in touch with some of those things I miss.

As part of a Meet the Author program founded by my colleague Susan Babb at NMRLS, I invited one of my authors to join us virtually. Ned Vizzini, author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Miramax, 2006), Be More Chill (Miramax, 2004), and Teen Angst? Naaah!… a Quasi-autobiography (Free Spirit, 2000) was a willing test subject for this experiment.

Bonus! You can listen to Ned’s presentation and read the transcript of the session online

We used the free Internet telephony program Skype to connect with Ned in New York (I was in Massachusetts). Skype is just like AIM, but… instead of typing, you actually talk! No phone numbers required, you just “call” your buddy and a two-way audio channel opens up.

Skype has a recording feature, but since I don’t have and fancy equipment, like a digital sound mixer, I could only capture my half of the conversation.

A quick fix was to stick my iPod with attached iTalk Griffin microphone next to the computer speaker. It picked up both our voices pretty clearly. The glitch was that the Internet was a bit intermittent, so there were a few times where we couldn’t hear Ned too well, but I posted a transcript to fill in most of the gaps.

After the event, I plugged the iPod into my computer, used a free program called Audacity to transfer it to an MP3 file, and then uploaded it to Lib Syn’s easy to use web interface.

Haven’t heard of Lib Syn? Me neither, until a week ago. Someone on an email distribution list mentioned it, and when I started having trouble with Ourmedia, a free media hosting service, I signed up for Lib Syn on the spot.

For $5-$30 a month, depending on how much storage and bandwith you think you’ll need, you get audio/video hosting with an integrated blog for your show notes. Lib Syn helps you through creating IDV3 tags (metadata! think of it as a MARC record for your podcast), builds a feed for you, AND pushes your podcast out to iTunes, Yahoo! Podcasts and Odeo podcast directories. It also tracks stats so you can see how many people are listening and how they are listening – direct from the web, or though a podcatcher.

Another great option for podcasting on the cheap and easy is Gabcast. You can post by telephone for FREE. Yes, FREE! Set up a free account, call their 1-800 number, and fill out a short form to connect your existing blog to their service. It’s as easy as leaving a message on an answering machine, except your audio is turned in a digital file and embedded into a blog with a feed, so it becomes subscribable. It works with Blogger, Livejournal, Typepad, WordPress, and Friendster, among others.

I’ve embedded audio into my region’s Storytelling blog and am demoing it in the Advanced Blogging class I’m teaching this afternoon.

What can you do with teens and podcasting?

  • Author/Illustrator visit recording
  • Battle of the Bands recording
  • Booktalks
  • Book Reviews
  • CD Reviews
  • DVD Reviews
  • Instruction: how to place a hold request!
  • Library News
  • Library Tours
  • Poetry Slam recording
  • Program promotion
  • Storytelling
  • Other?

With such great, cheap options, there’s no reason not to give it a try! Some great teen podcasts to listen to for inspiration (note: all are subscribable through iTunes, but I’ve provided links to their websites):

OCLS Podcast
Teens… promoting library programs!


All things Harry Potter

Coulee Kids
A variety of student projects

You don’t have to know how to podcast or edit or transfer audio to do this; chances are your teens know how, or can figure it out in two minutes or less. Give them the resources and paramaters, and let them do it.

Podcasting has potential to build developmental assets in all eight categories! Podcasting could build self esteem, make teens feel part of their community, engage teens in after school programming, offer a creative outlet, create a socializing opportunity, foster role model and mentor relationships, encourage reading for pleasure, provide an occasion to show responsibility, utilize planning and descision making skills, and enforce boundaries and guidelines.

How can podcasting enforce boundaries and guidelines? It can be a perfect springboad to discussions about SOCIAL NETWORKING SOFTWARE, INTERNET SAFETY and CYBERETHICS! Discuss how much personal information they will (or won’t!) give out), what they can (and can’t!) say in their podcast, what music is ok to incorporate and how and where to write for permission or locate “podsafe” music, and cover the ethics and legalities of blogging, for what is a podcast, if not an audio blog?

When your successful podcast is up and running… tell the library world! Add it to the Library Success: Best Practices Wiki’s Podcasting Page at!

Teen Tech Week Registration!!

It’s here! The Teen Tech Week Registration page is now open. It is certainly not too late or too early to enroll your library for the most exciting celebration for your libraries in 2007. Registering is a snap! And it won’t take long. Just click on this link
enter your information on the page and you’re done.

If you are attending the Midwinter Conference, please join us for kick off meeting for Teen Tech Week at ALA Midwinter 2007 in Seattle WA:

When: Sunday, January 21, 10:30am-12:30pm

Where: Washington State Convention and Trade Center (WCC), 800 Convention Pl (Cross Street: 8th Avenue) Room 608-609

While you’re registering, don’t forget to get your TTW Swag for your library.

TEEN TECH WEEK, March 4-10, 2007, GET CONNECTED!!!!

Cingular Teaches Parents How to Text

Cingular Wireless is trying to bridge this gap. The company, the largest cellphone carrier in the United States, will hold a series of interactive “texting bees” around the country early next year to teach parents how to send text messages to their children. The promotion is a way to increase sales, of course. But the company contends that its campaign will help parents get to know their sons and daughters by teaching them teenage slang and the advantages of texting over making phone calls, sending e-mail or simply having a conversation.

That’s from a New York Times article that was published yesterday. (A Parent’s Guide to Teenspeak) It talked about parents not knowing how to read teen text messages, and it also looked at whether or not parents should be up on what their teens are saying via texting. Educators weighed in on whether or not children and teens should be able to have their own language via texting as a way to retain privacy and individuate. Others said that parents should know so they understand what their teens are doing.

As I read the article I thought this is exactly the kind of thing that librarians are trying to work through with teens and their parents. How far do we go to support teen interests by being a part of those interests. How much do we stay away so teens have the chance to have some privacy and individuality? Is it OK to learn the technology in order to understand what’s going on with teenagers as long as we don’t over-step and usurp that technology? And, then of course, there’s the question, shouldn’t librarians be teaching parents about text messaging instead of Cingular doing the teaching? Or, shouldn’t librarians work with cell phone companies to help them teach parents?

Amazon Keeps Trying Things Out

Maybe this has been around for awhile but I just noticed it. On Amazon, for the books that have the Search Inside feature enabled, there is now also a concordance of the top 100 words used within a specific title. For example, I was looking at Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Tools for the Classroom by Will Richardson. When I clicked on the concordance link the resulting page provided me with a tag cloud of the most often used words in the book. When I clicked on one of the words I was able to view the pages with that word on it.

Why is this important to mention? Well, imagine if teens could search through books they might use in research in this way. They would get a good sense of what the focus of a title is by looking at the frequently used terms. They might get ideas for terms to use in their own searches on the topic. The concordance tag cloud could ultimately prove to be a great way to evaluate content and to evaluate whether or not content meets a particular need.

When it comes to fiction the concordance tag clouds present different opportunities. For example, character names appear boldly in the tag cloud but sometimes so do ideas that might not at first be readily apparent to readers of the novel. A perfect way to get some discussions of a fiction title started.

Previous blog posts talked about tagging the library catalog, but what about tagging books in the library collection in this way? Imagine if teens could look at each title in the library collection via a tag cloud of words used in the specific title. This could prove to be an interesting method for getting teens into books beyond covers, keywords and subject headings, etc.

YALSA Shines in Nashville

Bonnie Kunzel, Mary Arnold, Pam Spencer Holley, Michael Cart: no, this is not a past presidents’ meeting. These and other YALSA members have spent the past several days at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Nashville. Yes, Virginia, librarians are joining with English teachers in presenting programs on adolescent literacy. More than 250 people crowded into a room and stood in the hall to hear Kunzel and her two co-presenters, Lois Buckman and yours truly, present a session on motivating reluctant readers (BTW, we mentioned YALSA has some terrific resources such as the QP list). Holley chaired a session at ALAN as did Kunzel and Arnold. Michael Cart presented on a short story panel as well as delivering a session for NCTE. All in all, we leave Nashville laden with new books and happy memories of trailing through Opryland.

Why Is It So Hard to Be Positive?

A few weeks ago I spent the evening at a panel discussion on teens and social networking. The program was held for library directors and library trustees. Included in the evening were presentations by teens who talked about how they use social networking positively, safely, and successfully. The teens, were fantastic. They were powerful speakers, related well to the adults, and demonstrated exactly why social networking makes a difference in their lives in a positive way.

One teen talked about how he uses community building photography websites to learn how to be a better photographer, to get his work out into the world, to have his work critiqued, and to talk with other photography enthusiasts about the work they do. He told about having a publisher in England contact him about his photos. Two of his photos were used by the publisher as book covers. Wow! He also talked about organizing a meet-up of people in the area in which he lives to get together and talk photography face-to-face. He mentioned that his grandfather accompanied him on the excursion and his mother insisted that an adult family member be involved. That’s exactly how we want things to work.

The unfortunate thing was that after this teen’s presentation an Assistant District Attorney spoke to the audience about all of the horrors of social networking. Instead of taking what the teens said about keeping their MySpace spaces private, getting adults involved to help them make decisions about use of social networking, and what they know about staying safe online – she went the fear factor route. She never applauded the mother who helped her teen be safe in organizing a meet-up. She never gave the teen who is now a published photographer kudos for his social networking work. She only focused on the horrors.

I left the meeting frustrated and to some extent angry at the way this adult treated the teens. She basically invalidated everything they said, and since she spoke last in the program the fear was what many people will remember.

It’s so unfortunate that the ADA couldn’t send a message to the adults in the room about helping teens be smart and safe online while at the same time applauding the teens for their ability to be smart and safe online. While I realize this woman probably sees the worst of the worst, was it necessary to ignore all of the positive aspects of teen social networking behavior.

It shows once again how important it is for librarians working with teens to advocate for them. We need to stand-up and tell others that teens are thinking human beings who need adults to help guide and support. We need to applaud those teens who are doing great things and help those that are struggling so that they too can do great things. We need to make sure not to blame the tool (in this case social networking) but instead find ways to help teens use the tools successfully.


This morning I was listening to the Net @ Night podcast (it used to be Inside the Net) when I heard about a new search engine ChaCha. The idea behind ChaCha is that when doing a search the searcher can get live help, via chat, from a “guide” who will assist in finding the info. needed.

As I listened to the cast several things raced through my mind. First, I was sorry I wasn’t listening to the podcast in it’s Sunday night live version because I would have immediately gone into the chat room and said, “Hey, the library does this!” Second, I was thinking why aren’t the hosts wondering why the library doesn’t offer a service like this. Third, I wanted to know why the hosts didn’t know about library virtual reference services. And, fourth, I thought why is ChaCha getting this play when the library isn’t?

As soon as I could I went to ChaCha to try it out. I decided to ask a question that wouldn’t be really easy to answer. I asked the ChaCha Guide to help me find a concise write-up of the pros and cons of Net Neutrality. (I thought this might be difficult because whenever I hear people talk about Net Neutrality they tend to waiver in what they say about the positives and negatives.”)

The Guide went off and did a search and after a couple of minutes brought back two results. (Neither of which was concise or simply pro/con information.) And then, the guide didn’t ask if I needed something else, the chat session simply ended and I had those two results.

Obviously this service leaves something to be desired. But, the real point for me is that it exists and is within a search interface that teens might more readily access than the library’s Ask A Librarian type service. Many people have written about the positive and negative aspects of library 24/7 reference services. The quality of these services vary but libraries can’t wait to figure out how to make it work better. ChaCha isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. If we want teens to use our services virtually we have to be innovative quickly. Take a look at ChaCha and think about what they do right? Think about what will draw teens to this service? What can the library do for teens in virtual reference that ChaCha can’t. More importantly, how can the library provide instantaneous guidance without teens having to do multiple clicks in order to get to help in a search?

Teen Services

I spent all day today at a retreat for Teen Services at my library. Since it is a large system, we make new discoveries each time we are together. Social networking tools such as blogs, Flickr, and wiki’s keep us communicating and sharing. Presentations on gaming, pop culture (I should probably turn on my tv once in awhile for more right answers), book talks, programs, hands on activities, and of course sharing YALSA schwag, were some of the things we did.

What do other libraries do to work together as a system to serve teens better and celebrate the way that you are serving them now? Does your system encourage Teen serving librarians (and other teen serving staff) to be YALSA members?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki