Teens as content creators during times of tragedy

As I watch the news about the tragedy at Virginia Tech, there was a reporter from CNN that said this was the first time she remembers the volume of photos and video coverage being sent to them from the public about a particular incident. There was a psychologist on the news as well that talked about how many teens might watch the news frequently and feel the event is happening over and over. The global news coverage will affect teens everywhere and the librarians that work with them through such portals as Teen Second Life.

Since creating media and ‘putting themselves out there’ is an important part of adolescent development, why not create opportunities in the library for teens to respond? According to a 2005 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, half of all teens could be considered ‘content creators’. If they have anxiety and questions, what can we as librarians do to help that?

  • Put out markers and card stock out on a table for teens to create cards, scan the cards with a scanner and put them on your library web site or other site
  • Put a link on your library’s MySpace page to Odeo or Gcast where they can leave a podcast of their thoughts
  • project a collaborative whiteboard onto a screen so that teens in your library can come by and contribute
  • create a memorial in Second Life or Teen Second Life
  • Since some teens turn to MySpace for grieving for friends, why not send out a post from your library’s MySpace page or a list of chat sites they might find helpful to share their thoughts about?
  • have filming equipment? even a digital camera or cell phone? guide a short video with teens in how they can respond to yesterday’s events.

This just in from Andy Carvin’s presentation at the conference (more ideas! and his presentation is here: www.andycarvin.com/complibraries.ppt.

  • BlogBurst is a USA Today initiated project where bloggers can be put on major media sites. Why not make this available to teens off your library web site so they too can contribute to the bigger world.
  • Bliptv and CNN worked together to submit video footage of news stories. Encourage teens to use this site to get their message out. Also through iReports.

According to Andy Carvin,, “no one entity has a monopoly on the conversation.” We as librarians serving teens can help direct them to participate in the conversation too.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

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Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

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