Positive Uses of Social Networking One Year Later #3

A year ago YALSA launched the 30 days of positive uses of social networking project. Every day throughout October, three YALSA bloggers posted ideas and information about using social networking in the school and public library. The postings were in response to the U.S. Congress Deleting Online Predators Act and the realization that librarians working with teens needed support and information on using social networking with teens.

Now, one year later, the same YALSA bloggers are each writing an update post during the month of October about the world of social networking, teens, and libraries. You can see Linda’s post here and Kelly’s post here. Now it’s my turn.

As a school librarian, I’ve become sharply aware of the limitations that are placed on the use of social networking tools in our schools. In more schools than not, social networking tools are banned outright. It’s much easier for administrators to say no to all tools rather than try to distinguish among the huge variety that are now available, including those that are designed for educational use. It’s an interesting coincidence that one of my favorite school librarian bloggers, Doug Johnson (The Blue Skunk), posted about some of these same issues during October, even as we are engaged in this review. In his October 3rd “rant” (appropriately labeled with his “rant skunk”), Doug discussed the restrictions in terms of intellectual freedom. Blanket blocking of entire classes of information and tools is an unnecessary and illegitimate restriction of students’ intellectual freedom. On October 8th, he obtained Nancy Willard’s permission to reprint her LM_NET post on Internet fear-mongering. Nancy’s observation is that cyberbullying is causing kids far more harm than is sexual predation. Yet police, district attorneys, the FBI, and their audience – school administrators – seem to be fixated on social networking being a direct link to certain sexual predation. Doug’s October 30th post contrasts the different approaches taken by two videos on Internet safety – the U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Childhood video and the What You Need to Know video from iKeepSafe. The first video focuses on the Internet and child predators while the second is about what parents can do to protect their children and, more importantly, how parents can teach their children to protect themselves.

Yet great social networking things are happening in schools too. I’ve just returned from the American Association of School Librarians National Conference and the program was peppered with sessions on social networking tools and Web 2.0 topics. Clearly, the times are a-changing. My feeling is that as these tools become part-and-parcel of the fabric of society, the barriers in schools will begin to crumble. There’s simply too much good to be had.

An AASL report

I’ve just returned from the American Association of School Librarians National Conference in sunny Reno, Nevada. While there, I attended a number of great sessions of interest to YALSA members. Here are some highlights:

The opening general session featured speaker Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation, and a contributing editor of Wired magazine. His take-home message was that the world now needs and values adults who are artistic, empathic, and inventive. It’s no longer sufficient to (merely) be skilled in logical, linear, and analytical thinking to achieve economic success. Pink was a dynamic and entertaining speaker. He described how his attendance at law school permanently and profoundly improved his earning power – because law school was where he met his wife. His less than stellar academic performance there “made the top 90% of the class possible.”

I attended two very good sessions on Web 2.0 tools in school libraries, one by Annette Lamb and the other by the team of Shayne Russell and Sophie Brookover (Sophie was unable to attend in person). Annette emphasized that it’s not necessary to use a lot of new tools. Rather it’s more important to use new ways of thinking about the tools. We should think in terms of moving from e-learning to c-learning – using Web 2.0 tools for connection, cooperation, collaboration, and so on. She suggested that we give Second Life a couple more years to become easier to implement before we really see its potential in school settings. Shayne’s presentation made me impatient to get home and try out some things now. She shared concrete examples of using resources like Flickr, del.icio.us, blogs, and wikis to transform and improve student learning. Shayne and Annette both emphasized the benefits of using free and open source applications whenever possible. I wasn’t able to attend Joyce Valenza’s inspirational presentation on Web 2.0 and information fluency, which was so oversubscribed that a second session was arranged for the next day.

YALSA’s own Francisca Goldsmith did a stellar job presenting ideas for how to celebrate the upcoming Teen Tech Week (TTW) in school libraries. She took a low-tech approach to the event, reminding participants that we need not be limited in our celebrations by a lack of expensive technology. Even paints, pencils, and hand-cranked ice cream makers involve forms of technology. A few members of the audience described their own programming from last year’s inaugural Teen Tech Week. One participant sagely advised the group: “If you are going to plan a graffiti wall, don’t tell your principal in advance.” Others were concerned that the upcoming TTW, to be celebrated the first full week of March 2008, would be taking place during peak standardized testing season in their schools. As a member of the TTW committee, I assured them that TTW was bigger than its assigned week and could really be celebrated at a time most convenient for their schools.

A major event of the conference was the release of AASL’s new Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. The four standards are prefaced by a set of common beliefs. Each standard is accompanied by a set of skills, “dispositions in action,” responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies. I went to one of the sessions given by task force members Cassandra Barnett and Barbara Stripling, who walked participants through several examples of standards implementation. The new standards replace the standards for student learning published in Information Power, published in 1998.

For more coverage of the AASL conference, check out the AASL blog.

Keeping Up With Publishing, Even When You Aren’t A Librarian At AASL

Reno advertises itself as “The biggest little city in the world” and it certainly does seem big enough to hold—simultaneously—a national conference of school librarians and a cowboy association get-together….along with the requisite slot machine pullers, prospective newly weds, and the “just plain folks” who live here all the time.

Friday evening, Becca Todd, the district librarian from Berkeley schools, and I sought out dinner at Louis’ Basque Corner, which she’d overheard in an elevator (whether from a cowboy or a librarian, I don’t know) is “the best Basque food in town.” In true Basque restaurant style, all the seating is family style, so if your party is less than eight, you become joined with someone else’s undersized “family.”

We were seated as the final two at a table where a foursome in their late seventies and a pair of equally seasoned men were already at table, but hadn’t yet ordered. The two fellows next to us did a superb job of including us in some of their convo. while leaving us to our own between times. They introduced themselves as Reno natives and we allowed as we were visiting librarians. Notably, they snickered only a little when we allowed as we were from Bezerkly.

Some time between the goat soup, tripe, mussels, and main courses, the fellow next to Becca looked us over mildly and asked:

“So, what do you make of this Dumbledore thing?”

Becca, ever the librarian, clarified the question” “You mean his being outed?”

“Yup. Do you think it was necessary?”

“Well, no, and maybe that was Rowling’s point: his sexual orientation isn’t the point of the story.”

“Hm. I have this friend—she’s a witch, you know, a Wiccan? But now she’s mad about this Dumbledore thing. Too bad, huh?”

“Yes, too bad.”

And we finished off the meal (cheese for me, sundaes for Becca and the guys), all contented in our new found shared literary interests.

“You’ve Seen the Show, Now Be the Show”

There’s been several television shows on lately that are incorporating the 3D virtual world of Second Life including CSI-New York, the Office, and Gossip Girls’ Upper East Side. It’s great to see some of the possibilities for bringing stories to life in an interactive 3D environment. Teens could create their own avatars to look like one of their favorite (or least favorite) characters using a variety of programs, such as Gaia Online or Meez, not just Second Life. Teens could write a script for characters from Gossip Girl or their favorite book series and post on the forums board of Teen Second Life to see if someone might be interested in acting it out. Teens could create a MySpace page with their avatars based on a mystery and leave clues for readers to solve. They can publish film and snapshots to create a storyboard from their favorite virtual world here and share it with others. What else?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

We Have a Winner!

The votes are in for the Teens’ Top Ten … and there’s a “New Moon” rising to the top! More than 6,000 teen readers across the country chose “New Moon” by Stephenie Meyer as their favorite book in the annual Teens’ Top Ten vote, sponsored by YALSA. The online vote took place during Teen Read Week, October 14–20, 2007, with the second entry in Meyer’s popular vampire romance series winning easily.

Thanks to YALSA’s YA Galley committee and the fifteen teen book groups who made this year’s list possible! (Want to learn more? Check out the YA Galley Participants page on the YALSA site.)

So without further adieu, here’s your 2007 Teens’ Top Ten!

1. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2006).
2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (Viking Children’s Books, 2006)

3. How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles (Flux, 2006).
4. Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever by James Patterson (Hachette Book Group USA/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2006).
5. Firegirl by Tony Abbott (Hachette Book Group USA/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2006).

6. All Hallows Eve (13 Stories)by Vivian Vande Velde (Harcourt, 2006).
7. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Harcourt, 2006).
8. River Secrets by Shannon Hale (Bloomsbury, 2006).
9. Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe (HarperCollins, 2006).

10. Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks (Chicken House, 2006).

Congratulations to the winners — and thanks to everyone who voted!

Sharing, Privacy, and Trust in Our Networked World

The title of this blog post is the title of a report published by OCLC that focuses on perceptions and use of social networking in countries around the world*, and perceptions and use of social networking by library directors in the United States. The text of the report is worth reading by anyone who works with teens – teens as young as 14 were surveyed as a part of the research process. The findings provide insight into social networking use and a useful analysis on how the public and librarians see social networking fitting in (or not fitting in) to library programs and services.

Report findings include:

  • The digital native and digital immigrant generations are starting to merge. In other words there is less and less difference in knowledge of the basics of how technology works between those who were born after the beginnings of the web and those born before (even well before) that time. The report states, “.. many digital immigrants are indoctrinated into the culture.”
  • Use of the web doesn’t vary between rural, suburban, and urban populations. No matter where someone lives their use of the Internet for social media and networking is pretty similar.
  • Japan is the only country, of those covered in the research, that reported no growth in reading over the past year. All of the respondents, outside of Japan, showed an increase in reading. The survey asked participants to consider all types of reading – traditional print as well as online text – which may demonstrates an understanding that reading no longer has to take place in traditional forms.
  • Amazon and eBay were the top commercial sites across age groups surveyed. However, in third place for 14 to 21 year olds was iTunes, whereas WalMart was number three for the 22 to 50+ respondents. Media continues to be an important part of teen online and face-to-face lives.
  • In the 14 to 21 year old age group, MySpace and Facebook were the number one and two favorite social networking sites. The number one social networking site for the over 50 year old group was Classmates.com. This is particularly interesting as a distinct portion of the directors surveyed as a part of this research were in the 50+ age range.
  • Another comparison can be made between teens and librarians in their reasons for using social networking sites. 14 to 21 year olds reported using specific sites because their friends use the sites (the #1 answer) and they are fun (the #2 answer.) The librarians surveyed reported mixed reasons for using social networking sites, however they often noted using the tools for work. Does this difference in reasons for use have an impact on the ways in which librarians understand how teens use social networking?

The report also covers perceptions of research participants and library directors on topics related to safety and privacy in the online social world. These findings highlight the different perspective librarians have on these topics when compared to many of the people they serve. The general public seems to have less qualms about security than librarians. That of course has an impact on social networking services in and provided by the library.

The report also notes that for the public, and for many librarians, social networking is not thought of as something in which the library should become involved. Is that finding because the public doesn’t understand what the library might accomplish in this area? Looking at the data presented, it looks like the public is focused on a very traditional view of the library’s role in the community.

Many education and library experts were interviewed as a part of the research process. Many of these people mentioned that they thought the library has an important role to play in educating their customers about social networking, how it works, how to be safe, and so on. But, are we missing something when we make our primary, and maybe only, focus to provide educational support? Yes, that’s important. But, if librarians want teens to feel comfortable in their physical spaces and if librarians want teens to hang-out and socialize in their physical space, isn’t it an important extension of that to find ways to connect to teens in their online hanging-out spaces? Some libraries are already doing that of course.

Another interesting aspect of the report is the way in which OCLC integrated current social networking styles and norms into the visual presentation of information. Tag clouds are used as a visual representation of some findings. Visuals throughout the report highlight the way many people access and process information. Is this an example of how libraries should present information to teens?

The full report is available for download in pdf format. Later this month it will also be available in hard copy. Get your hands on it, read it, and consider what the data tells you about how you need to support and serve teens in your community.

* Countries surveyed for the report – United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom.

YALSA task force

A recent eMarketer report estimates that by 2011, 53% of teen and child Internet users will be in virtual worlds. YALSA is in the process of establishing a task force to explore the possibility of a presence in the virtual world of Second Life. Experience or money is not needed, but an open mind, time, being a YALSA member and access to a computer system that will support SL is. The task force will “report back to the YALSA Board of Directors at Midwinter 2008. Issues to explore include: cost, member interest in and use of Second Life, use of Second Life by other ALA Divisions, libraries or youth-serving organizations and possible content and types of participation and relevance to the YALSA mission.” If interested in becoming a member of the task force, contact YALSA President Paula Brehm-Heeger at: paulabrehmheeger@fuse.net.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

The YALSA Update, October 23

YALSA at AASL Conference This Week:
For those of you attending the AASL Conference this week in Reno, please mark your calendar for Sat. Oct. 27th at 8:30 AM. Francisca Goldsmith will be presenting a program called “Making Teen Tech Week Work for You” in room A6 of the convention center. The second annual Teen Tech Week will be celebrated March 2-8, 2008 with the theme “Tune in @ your library.” Learn more at the TTW page on YALSA’s wiki.

Also, be sure to make some time to stop by Booth #1047. YALSA’s Program Officer, Nichole Gilbert, will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about YALSA, young adult literature and/or teens in libraries. She’ll have some great give-aways as well as “Librarians Change Lives” t-shirts for $20 (all proceeds go to the Friends of YALSA & artwork was donated by Unshelved). You can also pick up a YALSA Member ribbon to wear on your conference badge.

To learn more about the AASL Conference go to www.ala.org/aasl.

Teen Read Week 2008
Nearly 1,000 teens voted online to choose the theme for the 2008 Teen Read Week. The winning theme is “Books With Bite @ your library.” Be sure to mark your calendars for April 17th when the 08 TRW web site and online registration launches as well as Oct. 12-18 for the actual TRW celebration.

2007 Teens’ Top Ten List
Log on to YALSA’s homepage on Oct. 24th to view the 2007 Teens’ Top Ten list. Nearly 6,000 teens voted during TRW to select the winners.
-Beth Yoke

Virtual College Fair

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us This is a college recruiter from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke that participated in the first annual college fair in Teen Second Life this weekend on Eye4You Alliance Island. There were over 170 unique visitors and traffic equaled 10,000 (which has to do with the amount of time each avatar spent on the island). Teens got to interact and listen to presentations about technology, careers, and human potential by organizations such as independent publishers, NASA, Amazon.com, Linden Lab, teen entrepreneurs and more. Recruiters from colleges were able to visit with teens individually and answer questions. Teen Second Life is a great way (and can be free!) for teens to network and get information they can’t always get in the classroom or even the library.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Things I Should Have Blogged about Part 2: Radiohead Self-Releases Album Online

The ever-enigmatic Radiohead had their own big release recently, distributing their latest album Rainbows to over a million and a half people since the album was released on 10/10.

While I can’t gauge teens’ interest in Radiohead, I can say that this release is pretty important to libraries for at least one reason: they released it themselves, they released it online, and they let fans set their own price.

Yes, no record label was involved in the process of creating this album and, unless you’re willing to shell out $80 for the discbox (CD, LP, bonus CD, and artwork), digital downloading is the only way to get it in the forseeable future.

Lots of bands and artists are moving this route, selling digital tracks through the Snocap service in order to retain control over the rights to their music. In my other blog post, Chris commented, “Maybe it is difficult to discuss music collections because the industry and the format are in flux, and we’re not sure what role the public library will play.” This is certainly one of those cases, as current interpretations of copyright law leave libraries incapable of distributing these works. Radiohead does not provide any license with the download (I downloaded it myself to check), which means they retain all the rights authorized under copyright law. This leaves libraries without authorization under section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Code, which effectively wags its finger at our attempts to burn or otherwise distribute these files. We could each work out an individual license with the band, but I can’t imagine it would be easy. Nor could I imagine how this would play out in a future where thousands of artists are distributing their music solely through a decentralized digital network.

What can we as a library community do about this? Can we lobby Snocap to include rights for libraries in its agreement with musicians? Can we engage the open source community to develop a secure distribution system for MP3s (which would garner us leverage in providing digital downloads of purchased song files)?