Curation Isn’t Just for Museums

A couple of weeks ago YALSABlog readers may have noticed that the weekly Tweets of the Week had a new format. A few days after that revision there was a Blog post that used Storify (The tool also used for the Tweets of the Week) to highlight findings in a new Pew Internet and American Life report on teens and social networking. Some may wonder, “what’s going on here?” Well, what’s going on is that curation has come to the YALSABlog and curation is probably something that you are or will be thinking about for the work you do with teens.

There has been a lot of buzz about curation over the past several months. What people are talking about when they buzz about content curation is the organization of information, usually using web-based tools, on a particular topic. For example, Storify enables users to search a variety of sources, including Twitter, YouTube, Google, and Facebook, to uncover and organize topic content. With Storify it’s possible to integrate text in-between curated resources to provide context and flow to the curated content. For example, the Storify below is all about the Austin Teen Book Festival.

Storify isn’t the only curation game in town. Scoop.it is another popular tool for organizing content on a particular topic. With Scoop.it the focus isn’t on telling a story but more on gathering resources on a topic in order to display them visually. When an item is added to a Scoop.it a portion of that content is displayed and Scoop.it curators can annotate items in order to focus on specific aspects of a resource. You can see an example of a Scoop.it I’ve started on resources that help teen librarians to be successful curators.

You can organize the resources on a Scoop.it page by moving content from place to place. For example, I’ve organized the curation and teen librarians Scoop.it with content related to curation tools on the top left and information about libraries and curation and about best practices in content curation in the bottom left and the right column.

Along with Storify and Scoop.it there are several other curation tools including Pearltrees (which was a YALSA app of the week a few weeks ago) LiveBinders, LibGuides, and BagTheWeb. As a librarian working with teens it’s possible that each of these tools will come in handy at different times in the work that you do. It all depends on the needs and interest of the teens and the community. For example, Storify is perfect for adding context to content as its curated. Scoop.it is perfect for gathering and annotating resources on a topic. Pearltrees is good for showing connections between content in the form of a mindmap.

As I’ve been thinking about content curation and teen library services it’s been clear that we’ve always curated content for those we serve. However, in the world of the web and social media curation takes on new and exciting forms. Current content curation tools make it possible to collaborate on curation. It’s alsop possible to inform teens about resources in ways that are interesting and appealing. Some curation tools make it possible to embed lists into blog posts, Facebook pages, and so on. That’s definitely better than the paper pathfinder that a teen in the past needed to pick up at the library, or even better than the resource list that is only available on a specific page of the library website.

These tools also make updating and adding content easy to accomplish. If a resource is no longer useful to the teens you work with, or has been superseded by something else, quickly delete it with just a few clicks. Something new to add? Use the bookmarklet available to quickly add it to the curated resource you are working on.

Then there are the possibilities for teens. Think about the ways in which teens can gather and organize information of personal or educational interest. Imagine a teen is working on a project about a current event topic. He or she can start a Scoop.it to collect and write about the resources they will use in their project. Or, imagine a teen is putting together a presentation for an assignment, he or she can put together that presentation in Storify. (Some of my favorite examples of what one can do with Storify are from journalism professor Kelly Fincham.) Think too about the fact that when a teen collects and embeds using one of these content curation tools, the original source is always available. It puts a whole new spin on citing, intellectual property, and permission gathering.

Are you using content curation in your library with and for teens? Let Blog readers know about it in the comments.

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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