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.