App of the Week: Postagram

Name: Postagram
Platform: iOS , Android , and a web-based option through Instagram
Cost: Free application, each postcard is $.99

When was the last time you got a picture postcard in the mail? Postagram is a stamp-free solution to send your captured images to your favorite people with a few cicks. For .99 cents per photo postcard, users can upload their picture, drag and scale it to the heart’s content, and customize the message and profile avatar. It’s all captured on heavy, glossy stock with the image itself a perforatted 3″ x 3″ segment of the card, all sent to the address you specify. And without any scrambling for stamps.
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Where Good Ideas Come From

As a summer project we read Steven Johnson’s book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. It’s a book that while not at all focused on libraries, gave both us a lot of really good ideas about how librarians working with teens can be innovative and work towards innovative practices in their libraries. Below you can read about some of our favorite ideas and how we see connections between them and teen library services.

Error = Insight
Error as key in innovation comes across loud and clear in Johnson’s book. He asks readers to consider that it’s possible to “transform error into insight” and that “innovative environments thrive on useful mistakes.” Continue reading

The Perks of Collaboration

Any teen librarian who is fortunate enough to work with a talented children’s librarian knows that the possibilities for collaborating on innovative programs are endless, providing youth from birth to young adulthood with programming that meets their developmental, social, and educational needs. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to work closely with your children’s librarian on a project, there’s no better time than now to do so. Why collaborate? Here are three good reasons:
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The YALSA Update: Keep On Votin’

Teens’ Top Ten Voting Continues Teens’ Top Ten voting is going strong! What books do your teens love? Have them vote for their favorites through Sept. 16 at Want to encourage teens to vote? Embed the code between the brackets on your website, which includes the new Teens’ Top Ten logo:

[<a title=”Vote for Your Favorite Books in the Teens’ Top Ten!” href=””><img alt=”Teens’ Top Ten” src=””></a>]

Voting ends Sept. 16!

YALSA Member Kudos: Congratulations are in order for YALSA members Hannah Gomez, who will be YALSA’s 2011-2012 Spectrum Scholar, and Gretchen Kolderup, who takes over as member manager of The Hub from Sarah Debraski on Monday.

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YALSA Blog Tweets of the Week – August 26, 2011

Here’s a short list of tweets posted over the last week that librarians and the teens that they serve may find interesting:

It’s Not About the Collection: Homework Help Solutions

In our first post on the topic of public library homework help, we provided an overview of why we think it’s important to spend time talking about what many teen librarians take for granted: homework help. Because this service is often assumed to be a requirement of high-quality service, librarians serving young adults do not often take the time needed to evaluate homework services and consider whether they are as valuable and worthwhile as expected. In this second post on the topic, we talk about homework help services that can work and how public librarians can start to re-think how they provide homework help.

Let’s start with the idea that many public libraries assume they have to provide a full array of materials to teens that support homework needs. These might be physical library materials that are on fiction and non-fiction shelves or web-based materials that live as links on library website homework pages. ‘ What if we said instead that the first requirement of successful homework support should be to focus on space for teens to use resources (maybe resources from the public library and maybe resources from the school library or some other location) and collaborate, which includes giving them the opportunity to:

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App of the Week: Facebook Messenger

Facebook messengerTitle: Facebook Messenger

Platform: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android devices.

Cost: Free.

Facebook Messenger is an app designed by the popular social networking site to be able to send a message to anyone whether it be either text or Facebook message. This is different than sending messages from your Facebook app because it can also send the same message as a text to contacts in your phone who may or may not have Facebook. The app is also able to include pictures and your location.

Thinking that this would be a great tool for advertising library programs to teens, I was quick to download the app, and it is a great tool for messaging both phone contacts and Facebook contacts. The photo function and location functions are easy to use, and sending a message is just like sending a text. Unfortunately, the photo and location features are not accessible to teens already using the Facebook Mobile app on their smart phones. The message must be viewed from the full Facebook page or the Facebook messenger app in order to get these additional features. There is also privacy issue in that names of any recipient of the message are visible to the other recipients.

However, this has the potential to be a great way to send reminders about programs to teen patrons. It reaches them wherever they are, whether they have a smart phone or not. It would also be a great way to send messages to conduct a photo scavenger hunt as patrons could send photos and messages to multiple contacts, such as team members and the librarian running the event.

Getting the Rest of the Staff Involved

I am noticing a big problem at a lot of libraries – mine in particular, since, you know, I’m there a lot.’  The problem is that the teen patrons only talk to the teen librarian. When I’m not there, reference questions go unasked.’  Books stay missing.’  Computers go unused.’  They are scared to talk to anyone else.’  A girl approached me that had been looking for a book for three weeks that was sitting on the shelves the whole time because she was too intimidated to ask anyone but me what the call number meant.

The kids, being kids and all, come in after school and are noisy.’  Shocking to all of you, I know.’  Since when are kids noisy?’  It bothers other patrons and usually ends with a staff member scolding them.’  This scolding is usually the only time the teen patrons interact with any other members of the library staff.’  They only know people I think of as helpful and kind as yelling, angry adults.’  Thus, they avoid them.’  I am in the YA room nearly every day for multiple hours, so I am a familiar, friendly (I hope) face.’  I have talked to them, so they know that they can talk to me.’  The rest of the staff are all really fantastic people that would be happy to help the teen patrons, but the teens are afraid and refuse to approach them.

I’m doing my best to encourage the teens to go to the staff with their questions.’  I have supplied the other reference librarians with book lists and summer reading lists so that they are well-equipped for reader’s advisory and other YA questions.’  As you all well know, the teen years are when libraries lose most patrons.’  I want to make sure that we are showing these kids that the library is a place they are welcome to be in.’  If they feel welcome, they will keep coming here well past their teen years.’  The question is how to get my staff involved?’  I am guessing that many of you have dealt with a similar problem.’  What did you do?’  I’d love some advice to make my teen population feel more comfortable.

30 Days of How-To

The votes are in, and our winner is clear–September will be filled with 30 Days of How-To! The winning theme was submitted by Kate C.. Kate, you’ll be getting an email shortly about your prize.

This means that next month the blog will be featuring a wide variety of posts with tips on how to accomplish all kinds of teen library stuff, from programming to crafts and everything in between.

Thanks to Kate for a great theme, and thanks to the rest of you who submitted a theme and voted in our poll.

YALSA Update: New JRLYA Issue, Teens’ Top Ten Voting & More

New Issue of JRLYA: The summer issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Literacy and Young Adults posted this week! Check it out and read posters from the YALSA Research Committee’s session at ALA Annual Conference 2011 and Elizabeth Koehler’s article, “The Silent Message: Professional Journals’ Failure to Address LGBTQ Issues.” Read more at the JRLYA website, Want to contribute to JRLYA? Contact Editor Sandra Hughes-Hassell at

TeensTop TenEncourage Your Teens to Vote in the Teens’ Top Ten! Teens’ Top Ten voting is open online at! Want to encourage teens to vote? Embed the code between the brackets on your website, which includes the new Teens’ Top Ten logo:

[<a title=”Vote for Your Favorite Books in the Teens’ Top Ten!” href=””><img alt=”Teens’ Top Ten” src=””></a>]

Voting ends Sept. 15!

Read on to find out how to register for Teen Read Weekâ„¢ and enter your teens in the Teen Read Week photo contest, sign up for fall webinars on social media and QR codes and order new books and other products from YALSA!

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