Research Roundup

I’m back with another month’s worth of interesting research and writing on scholarly and popular topics related to teen culture, literacy, and library services. I’ve decided to expand from just summarizing research to also linking you to fascinating articles, blog posts, or other more easily-accessed tidbits that might spark meaningful conversation, programming, or reference/advisory transactions. As always, if you have a topic you’d like to know about, or if there’s a journal you miss having access to, comment here and I’ll do some digging for you.

  • The Lilith blog, an online supplement to the Jewish feminist magazine, reports on a “freedom ride” in Jerusalem protesting the ultra-Orthodox custom of requiring women to board and sit in the rear of the public bus only. Sound familiar? If you’re looking for a way to allow your diverse patrons to connect with each other, try bringing this up as a topic and talking about the similarities with the freedom rides in the American South.
  • As gaming and social entrepreneurship cross paths, researchers are proposing gaming as a supplement to education. Some schools are totally sacking textbooks in favor of computer and online games, which foster constant learning and readjustment of skills, as well as insert trivia and tidbits of information (how did 90s kids learn what cholera and dysentery were? Probably from playing Oregon Trail) into gaming. Those not so sold on the idea point out that games must be designed to be addictive if kids are going to choose the educational ones over Halo, but that the point should be to encourage learning, not addictive, mindless playing. It’s an interesting thought, to be sure, and it’s something libraries with collection development dollars should consider.
    Cohen, Aaron M. “The Gamification of Education.” The Futurist, 45:5, 2011. 16-17.
  • Korean researchers have discovered the physics of writing, and why and how different sized pens and different types of paper yield different blots and lines. Ever wonder why you can write on paper but not on, say, glass? It’s because glass doesn’t have pores, so it can’t draw the ink out of the pen. The full research will be published in an academic journal, but PhysicsWorld did a great writeup.
  • You probably knew this, but teens in rural communities often lack access and education regarding healthy behaviors, from nutrition to sexual health. But it may be surprising that one of the biggest differences between rural and urban teens is their approach to substance use and safety, from drunk driving to alcohol poisoning. While usage of cigarettes and alcohol is around 32% of teens from both rural and urban communities, those in rural communities reported higher rates of depression, motor vehicle accidents, and overweight or obesity. If your library serves a rural community, are you working with public health organizations to offer programming and resources on health behaviors?
    Curtis, Alexa C. et al. “Rural Adolescent Health: The Importance of Prevention Services in the Rural Community.” The Journal of Rural Health, 27: 60–71.
  • Librarians, teachers and counselors often advertise their areas, classrooms, and offices as “safe spaces” where LGBT students can congregate, discuss, or just hang out without having to feel ashamed, embarrassed, or threatened by their sexual identity or orientation. But does designating these safe spaces serve to put more of a wedge between those who identify as LGBT and those who don’t? Catherine O. Fox and Tracy E. Ore suggest that, while these safe spaces are commendable, they might also diminish other differences that people have, such as race and gender, and also might advocate sexual identity as the primary mode of identification, rather than, say, race or gender, or even something as simple as gamer or punk. Not all members of the LGBT community have the same experiences, as even being LGBT is coupled with other facets of identity, and when safe spaces promote sexual identity above all other forms of identity, queer people of color or from different classes may feel as if they are actually unsafe spaces to be. This paper on oppression with/without privilege is worth a thoughtful read. How do you approach these issues in your library?
    Fox, Catherine O. and Tracy E. Ore. “(Un)covering Normalized Gender and Race Subjectivities in LGBT ‘Safe Spaces.'” Feminist Studies, 36:3, 2010. 629-649.
  • Which of these topics are new to you?

    About Hannah Gómez

    School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.
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