Report from Annual 2011: Trends in YA Services – Using Mobile Devices to Serve Teens

panelists from left to right Jack Martin, Kerrilynn Hurley, Jennifer Velasquez, Enjoli Gilbert, Courtney Beamer, Renee McGrathThis panel could be called, A Fun Time Was Had By All. Not only did audience members learn a lot about teens and mobile devices, but it looked like most of the audience members were fully engaged and entertained. The panel was made up of a group of energetic speakers that included two teens from the Patrick F. Taylor Science Academy in Jefferson Parish, LA, who let panelists and audience members know exactly what teens are looking for from mobile devices and from libraries working in the mobile world.

The panel got started with a presentation from Jennifer Velasquez, Coordinator of Teen Services for the San Antonio Public Library System. Jennifer focused on the “lay of the land” when it comes to teens and mobile device use. She provided audience members with some very compelling statistics about how teens are using devices for texting, talking, and viewing. The PowerPoint of Jennifer’s presentation is available, and when looking at her slides it’s clear that teens are spending a lot of time using mobile devices in a wide-variety of areas of their lives. It’s also clear that mobile is now and connecting to teens with these devices is something libraries need to not just be thinking about, but they need to be doing.

Following Jennifer’s presentation the teens Courtney and Enjoli talked with audience members about how they use devices. The teens agreed with much of what Jennifer presented and noted that while they text a lot, that their friends are probably more indicative of the “typical” teen that spends a lot of time texting. Enjoli also mentioned that teens are very much into iPads and would like to own the device, if they don’t already, and that Apple is a coveted brand amongst many teens. (You can actually hear Courtney and Enjoli talking about other topics as a part of a recent radio interview with them for WWNO)

Kerrilynn Hurley, Young Adult Librarian at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley (NY) Community Library, followed the teens and talked about a variety of initiatives at her library that provide opportunities for teens to use mobile devices and also give teens the chance to use library resources no matter where they are. In her presentation Kerrilynn discussed a project in which teens were given the opportunity to take iPod Touches with them on a tour of museums in New York City. While at the museums the teens used the iPods to access information about the exhibits they were viewing. Kerrilynn also talked about how she meets teens where they are during the summer months by pitching a tent at the beach and providing access to information about the library to teens walking by.

Jack Martin, Assistant Director of Public Programs/Lifelong Learning for Children, Teens and Families at The New York Public Library, followed Kerrilynn with an overview of the Library’s New York City Haunts project. This is a project that integrates QR codes, Scvngr, iPads, research, youth participation, and collaborative planning into an activity for teens. Jack highlighted the educational aspects of the project and the ways in which the library worked with teens and community agencies in order to create NYC Haunts. Jack also discussed how a project of this kind could be expanded to cover a variety of topics of interest to teens.

The formal presentation portion of the panel concluded with Renee McGrath, Manager of Youth Services at the Nassau Library System in Uniondale, NY, who showed audience members the booklist app her library system developed in order to support teen summer reading. The app gives teens the opportunity to locate materials on their device and even provides access to Overdrive from which teens can download titles of interest. Renee’s PowerPoint presentation about the app is available for viewing.

Following the formal presentations the teens, panelists, and audience members engaged in a lively discussion about the way mobile is being used by libraries and by teens. The teens were very positive about the mobile booklist app developed by the Nassau Library System and questioned a bit the educational focus of the NYPL scavenger hunt. However, when discussed further, the teens liked the idea of the scavenger hunt but just weren’t sure if the educational focus would draw their attention. Jack Martin reiterated that the topic of the hunt could be wide-ranging and that involvement of teens in developing the project would have an impact on the success of this type of activity.

I would like to thank all of the panelists for their participation in the session and also thank Elizabeth Kahn, the librarian at the Patrick F. Taylor Science Academy, who was instrumental in making sure the panel included teens.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for this informative article. I was disappointed not to be able to attend this year’s Annual meeting, and the subject of teens & mobile devices is something that interests me a great deal.

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