An article in today’s New York Times titled Social Networking Leaves Confines of the Computer, once again highlights the importance of libraries recognizing the role cell phones play in the lives of teens. The focus of the article is on mobile services that allow teens, and others, to stay in contact even when the computer is off. These services take text messaging to the next level.
The article states:
…Such services have the same addictive appeal for young people as BlackBerrys do for busy professionals, said Howard Hartenbaum, a partner at the venture capital firm Draper Richards, which is an investor in Kyte.
And then goes on to quote Hartenbaum:
“Kids want to be connected to their friends at all times,” Mr. Hartenbaum said. “They can’t do that when you turn off the computer.”
How many libraries do you know that are connecting to teens via the devices teens hold in their hands? How many libraries do you know that have been able to move beyond connecting to teens in the library and classroom and have been able to connect using technology at all? How many libraries are willing to take the next step and focus on technologies that teens want to use as opposed to the technologies librarians feel comfortable with?
One thing to remember about the new mobile technologies discussed in The New York Times article. They are free. If you send a text message to teens via Twitter or Kyte you don’t pay a cent in texting or software fees. What’s not to like in that? Remember, even if the teens might be using a cell phone or other handheld device to read your message and send a message to you – you can still be on your computer. (Or not depending on which works best for you.)
Not only do librarians have to get out from behind their desks in order to serve teens effectively. (I know lots of teen librarians know that part already.) But, they also have to get out from behind the focus on the web site, databases, and catalog. Those things don’t resonate with teens so why use them? Well, maybe it should be, they don’t resonate with teens so why use them as the first entree to connect with teens?
Cell phones will continue to gain more and more functionality and librarians have to keep up with these trends in order to make sure they know how to communicate with and connect with teens. Check out todays’ New York Times article to get yourself going.
With every new toy comes hacks and modifications. It’s no wonder that Nintendo’s Wiimote, the Bluetooth-enabled control device for the Nintendo Wii, quickly found itself on the operating block. After enthusiasts figured out how to get the Wiimote to transmit information to any Bluetooth-enabled computer, many possibilities opened up. One really great application has been in controlling sound and music applications. It started with simply getting the Wiimote to trigger digital deejay software and developed into full-fledged sound design, such as in this video of people playing a Wiimote to make real-time lightsaber noises (warning: impossible without thousands of dollars of computer processing and highly advanced sound design techniques).
What does this mean for teens? Well, the possibility to get them engaged in at least three forms of literacy at once! Imagine them, if you will, using a Wiimote to mash up a chapter of their favorite audiobook with the new Timbaland single.
For more information on the tools needed, http://www.wiili.org should get you started. For some of the more deejay-specific tips, take a look at http://www.djwiij.com. As always, feel free to discuss the potential applications of these exciting new technologies in the comments or at the ya-music list.
In the April 2007 issue of American Libraries there is an article called “Buying into Gossip” by Jennifer Burek Pierce on page 76. Since YALSA and its Past President were mentioned, Judy Nelson felt that it was important to respond. Today she sent the following letter in to American Libraries at email@example.com.
On behalf of YALSA’s Board of Directors, I would like to express my disappointment in Jennifer Burek Pierce’s April article entitled “Buying into Gossip.” Pierce concluded that the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) was not “endeavoring to lure them [teens] to a more high-brow literature” than Gossip Girl. This conclusion was based solely on the fact that in early 2006 YALSA disseminated a list of Gossip Girl “read-a-likes.” If Pierce had examined the list, she would have noticed that of the ten titles all but one were either recognized by an award or had been included on one of YALSA’s recommended lists.
It is even more puzzling that Pierce came to this particular conclusionconsidering that YALSA produces seven annual lists of recommended reading, listening and viewing for teens as well as four literary awards. YALSA’s Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature is the only national book award specifically for the young adult literature genre. This award was established precisely to promote and reward literary excellence in the genre as a means of ensuring that teens would have access to a wide variety of age-appropriate literature, including literature of high literary quality. To say that YALSA doesn’t encourage teens to read “high-brow” literature is simply not correct.
As adults and librarians, it also bears mentioning that teens should not be expected to read a steady diet of “high-brow” literature, however that may be defined. Teens, like adults, want to read what interests them when they are choosing materials for recreational reading. Sometimes that means reading Virginia Wolf and other times that means reading Us Weekly. To hold teens to a standard that adults don’t adhere to is unreasonable, and a library that excludes popular titles from its collection is not customer focused.
On behalf of the 5,548 YALSA members who are not only dedicated to
ensuring that teens have access to excellent library services and
resources, but to helping teens become life-long readers and thinkers, I would hope that Pierce would retract her statement about YALSA.
Judy Nelson, YALSA President
(posted by Beth Yoke)