About Meaghan Darling

Meaghan is the Youth Services Librarian at Long Hill Township Public Library.

Instagram of the Week – May 16

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

This week we’re focusing on two hashtags that can get teens and library staff working together to create content and engage bibliophiles worldwide. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report discusses the importance of helping teens gain experience with technology and social media, create digital and message content, and interact with adults who can serve as mentors. The report also highlights how it’s no longer the role of just those in the Children’s, Teen, or Youth Services departments to interact with teens, but that all library staff members regardless of position or department should work on engaging teens and building relationships. Creating content for your library’s Instagram feed is a fun (and often humorous) activity, but can be time consuming and something that gets bumped down the priority list as the school year comes to a close and public library summer reading programs gear up. Inviting all library staff to stage and snap a few photos while encouraging teen volunteers to assist and share ideas presents an opportunity to make introductions and work toward a shared goal.

If the #librariesofinstagram hashtag is the go-to for connecting libraries around the world, then #bookstagram is what brings book lovers together to share current reads and book reviews, to be read piles, favorite quotes, fandoms, and more. Usually these eye-catching photos feature one or two books staged with a complementary background, small props, and good lighting. Book publishers frequently #bookstagram new releases and libraries are featuring items in the collection, staff recommendations, and book club selections. Inviting staff and teens to stage photos allows for a change of scenery (perhaps literally with different surfaces, lighting, and desktop items to incorporate), camera angles, and a variety of titles to include.

Although National Library Card Sign-up Month isn’t until September, libraries post photos of their cards throughout the year and often invite patrons to participate in contests depicting their card on the go. Looking through #librarycard photos is exciting! Yes, a number of the images are libraries highlighting their card and all of the resources that can be accessed with it, but there are just as many photos of patrons excitedly sharing that moment when they’ve moved to a new town or have a young family member obtain a new card. A library card hashtag is easily customized to include your library or town for a summer contest featuring #librarycardadventures or #travelinglibrarycard. Easy to pack and the sky is the limit for photo ops!
Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – April 25

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

With spring weather in full swing, it’s time to venture outside of the library walls and connect with community members in town. In the past two weeks Instagram has been full of library bookmobiles, book bikes, and staff members taking part in local expos, festivals, parades, and charity walks. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report discusses how some teens only use libraries for school related work and libraries must engage them in areas beyond academic interests in a way that is visible to teens, parents, and the community. In its explanation of the envisioned future of library services for teens, the report describes developing year-round outreach services in which librarians and library staff leave the building to provide direct services to teens. Outreach programming also provides an opportunity to collaborate with other community stakeholders and businesses. This week’s selected images provide examples of how libraries are putting themselves out there to reach teens and their families in town and the local organizations they have partnered with to do so.

Does your library have a bookmobile, visit the local farmer’s market, or participate in town-wide events? How did you determine your bookmobile route and schedule? What types of publicity materials do you bring with you to events or what programs do you hold? Share with us in the comments section below!

 

 

Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – April 4

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

We’ve flipped our calendars to April and the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month has arrived! Established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration worldwide. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report discusses the importance of engaging teens in library programming that helps develop multiple literacies and skills for future college and career success. Poetry month lends itself to a variety of active and passive programs, and libraries are taking to Instagram to share programming opportunities with their communities. Sharing a poem a day on social media, placing boards with magnetic words around the library, and providing the materials necessary for poetry contest entries allows teens to explore poetry at their leisure. On the other hand, holding a poetry slam, blackout poetry art program, or hosting a poet to lead a workshop and reading can foster a more collaborative environment for teens. Spine poetry and poetry contents that require photographs, online submissions, or sharing content on social media provide an opportunity for teens to enhance technology skills. Putting together a book display? Why not ask teens to assist in searching the catalog for materials to include? Don’t forget to pull a few novels in verse and popular fiction titles that include works of poetry.

Need a little inspiration for programs? Visit the National Poetry Month website where you can find a list of 30 ways to celebratetips for librarians, and a form to request a free poster with this year’s design by Debbie Millman. Don’t forget that Poem in Your Pocket Day is coming up on Thursday, April 21!

This week’s Instagram images not only highlight what libraries are doing for Poetry Month, but also how they celebrated April Fools’ Day on April 1. Want to share your poetry program plans or tell us a fun April Fools’ prank your library pulled? Use the comments section below!

Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – March 28

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

While library Instagram feeds share images of programs in action, memes that make you chuckle, smiling library staff members, and striking images of the building and grounds, the majority of posts are focused on books. Whether it be new books that just arrived, a fresh book display, pets posing with books, or book recommendations (to name a few!), libraries are finding ways to showcase materials to patrons. Recently, I’ve found that many libraries are tagging authors, illustrators, and publishers in the comments section of the post or in the image itself. At first glance this may seem commonplace given the constant sharing and tagging that goes on within the platform, but in light of the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report and YALSA’s Social Networking Toolkit, the action has an important impact.

The Futures report explains that today’s library staff have the tools to meet teens where they are and must help them develop multiple literacies that extend beyond the library’s physical space. Listed in the report are seven ways that we can help teens gain media literacy skills as presented by Renee Hobbs at the Summit on the Future of Library Services and Teens. As suggested by the list, getting teens to think about how they interact with media can help them analyze what they consume and make good choices with regard to what they listen to, read, and watch. Library staff can help teens research personal interests and gain skills that will help them analyze and interpret messages, create content, as well as share ideas and represent themselves in the future. In terms of social media specifically, the Social Networking Toolkit states that the act of creating a social media profile, writing content and comments, and editing content develops reading and writing skills. Learning how to use social media tools in a safe environment will allow teens to develop boundaries and expectations when using social platforms, demonstrate a commitment to learning, feel empowered, and see library staff and teachers as positive role models for navigating social media. The Social Networking Toolkit provides an example in which a teen follows an author’s blog or Twitter feed as the author reflects on his or her writing and reading experience. The student can then use the author’s social media account as both a platform for research and a way to communicate with the author.

Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – March 14

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Last week from March 6-12 marked this year’s “Create it at your library” Teen Tech Week celebration. Sponsored by YALSA, this yearly initiative aims to connect teens and libraries, and encourage teens to make use of the library’s nonprint resources. As the Future of Library Services for and with Teens discusses, the knowledge divide continues to grow as one in four teens does not have access to technology. Participating in events such as Teen Tech Week provides an opportunity for teens to gain experience with technology tools in an informal setting and strengthen digital literacy skills. Libraries around the country took part in Teen Tech Week by showcasing maker and breaker spaces, hosting DIY and science programs, introducing teens to new technology, and having fun!

Mark your calendars for next year’s Teen Tech Week celebration from March 5-11, 2017.  Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – February 29

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Following up on last week’s Instagram of the Week post on connected learning, this week’s installment continues the discussion of libraries as connected learning centers by focusing on the importance of collaborating with other organizations in the community. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report explains that, in the past, library staff have been seen as the “information keepers” who hold the answers to patrons’ questions. However, this role of the in-house expert is shifting such that library staff should be seen as co-learners, guides, or facilitators who learn alongside patrons as they link teens to information and resources. By forming connections with teens and discussing their interests and passions, library staff can establish new avenues to support teen interests and learning that go beyond what libraries could traditionally offer. Seeking experts and organizations in the community that relate to teen interests provides an opportunity to establish partnerships and collaborate on programs that directly support teen needs. These types of connections are important as they provide opportunities for hands-on learning experiences and put teens in contact with experts and leaders in fields of interest who can serve as mentors.

From local elected officials and television newscasters to animal shelters and music schools, this week’s featured Instagram images highlight the types of programs libraries are offering as a result of collaborations with local individuals and organizations. Has your library established community partnerships to support teen interests? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below. How did you determine teen needs? Whom did you contact to establish partnerships? What outcomes have you observed as a result of your collaborative programming?

Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – February 22

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Earlier this month, I was in a pinch preparing a sample craft for an upcoming children’s program and turned to my teen volunteer group for help. The goal was to make a sand bowl, a mixture of sand and white glue poured over bowl covered in plastic wrap. Once it dries, the bowl and plastic wrap are removed and — voilà! — a sand bowl. Despite following the directions I found online, my initial creation looked like the perfect example for one of those Pinterest expectation vs. reality memes. With the program coming up in a few days, I needed to make more bowls to determine the best glue to sand ratio for making a successful, pourable mixture. My teen volunteers were more than happy to take a break from our usual course of action and get their hands dirty with this craft. Much giggling ensued, food coloring was requested (which took the bowls to another level!), “This actually counts as volunteering time?” was asked several times, and together we figured out the best bowl recipe. Both our meeting and the bowls were a success, but more important is what happened in our following meetings.

At the following volunteer meeting we were brainstorming ways to decorate for Valentine’s Day. One of the students who assisted with the sand bowls offered to show us how to make tissue paper tassels that we could string together and hang. She picked out what she needed from the craft closet and taught us all (myself included) how to make them. The following week, she walked into our session and proclaimed, “I just learned how to make these hanging paper hearts I found online. They’d be perfect for us to make today and add to the [Valentine’s Day] display!” In preparation for our meeting, she had looked online for something else we could make, learned how to make them, and then offered that knowledge to the group to teach all of us. Needless to say, I have adjusted my approach with the teen volunteer group! I now allot time during our sessions for anyone with an impromptu activity for the group and within reason, supply necessary materials. It’s as if the floodgates have opened and, perhaps because a newfound feeling of staff support or camaraderie, ideas for future programs are pouring out of the group.

The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report discusses the importance of connected learning and how libraries can act as a connected learning center for teens. Connected learning is the learning that occurs when passions and interests are combined in a social atmosphere with peers and adults to gain knowledge that extends to academic, civic, or career related endeavors. In order to support this type of learning, library staff must form connections with teens, discuss their interests, and collaborate to develop programs and collections. The Futures report also provides that library staff should not shy away from taking risks to determine what works, and changes will be made based on the current needs of teens. Outcomes of adjustments made to programs and collections as a means to foster connected learning are measured by new skills and knowledge gained. As with my example of the sand bowls and subsequent craft ideas, with a few spur of the moment changes, you never know who you might empower to step out of their shell, share with the group, and lead!

Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – January 25

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

As Winter Storm Jonas made its way along the East Coast, libraries took to Instagram to reach out to their patrons. Many posts were designed to notify patrons about changes in library hours or closures, remind everyone of the library resources that can be accessed 24/7 from home, and poke fun at how much time we’d have to catch up on the books we’ve been meaning to read. Book and media displays soon looked as bare as supermarket shelves as patrons flooded in to stock up on library essentials!

Jonas highlighted how communities are prioritizing libraries as a step in their storm preparations while also shedding light on the connections developing between libraries and library staff on this social media platform. In scrolling through post comments, sentiments of “Be safe!” and “Warm wishes!” can be seen from libraries across the nation and as far away as Australia. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report discusses how important it is that all library staff, stakeholders, and community members communicate, advocate for their library, and keep up to date on current research and best practices. It seems that Instagram is becoming a platform for us to toot our horns for a job well done and learn of the successes of other libraries. When scrolling through images, it’s easy to find ideas that might be fun to try or come across a picture of a full house and click around to see which program was held. The images can also provide subtle clues on how set-up was handled, necessary supplies, and how the program was publicized. Best of all, if staff members in different departments (Youth Services, Adult Services, Circulation, etc.) all contribute to your library’s Instagram account, images from other organizations can both educate your coworkers on trends in teen services as well as inspire them to get involved.  Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – January 11

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

This week is all about the books! From “New Year, New You” book displays to reading challenges and mock book awards, Instagram has been full of images of books for the last week. The transition into the new year provides an opportunity to make resolutions and try something new in the upcoming months. Libraries are using the start of the year to their advantage by showing patrons everything they have to offer including print collections, digital resources, and language learning tools.

Patrons who make a resolution to read more may be looking for “something different” to read and be open to suggestions that expand their horizons. One fun way to encourage patrons to pick up books unlike their usual selections is to host a reading challenge. Popular reading challenges include Popsugar’s Ultimate Reading ChallengeBook Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, and Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge which all provide participants with a list of categories such as “A book based on a fairy tale” (from Popsugar’s list) or “A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller” (suggested by Modern Mrs. Darcy) to guide book selection. The Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge asks participants to state the number of books they would like to read during the year and other challenges, such as the Hub Reading Challenge, provide a list from which participants select titles.

While there are a number of established reading challenges that can be shared with patrons, some libraries opt to create their own list. By doing so, libraries have an opportunity to include items that highlight all areas of the collection, not just print materials. For instance, categories such as “Check out a magazine on Zinio,” “Download free music from Freegal,” or “Find a book to read through NoveList” can either remind or introduce patrons to all the library has to offer. This is important because, as the Future of Library Services for and with Teens explains, today’s libraries should house collections that not only meet the needs and interests of teen patrons through print collections, but also through video and audio collections, databases, and e-content. Teens can even be involved in selecting the categories for the reading challenge which can drum up interest in participating.

Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – December 28

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

This week’s Instagram roundup serves two purposes: to showcase the fun things happening in libraries as the holiday season comes to a close and to provide some inspiration for a teen Instagram takeover. It’s hard to scroll through Instagram without seeing an account that has been temporarily taken over by an outside person as a way of collaborating, sharing content, and introducing followers to other accounts and topics of interest. Many schools are jumping on the bandwagon and allowing students to take over their Instagram account for a day or week to highlight what it’s like to be on campus. For examples, take a look at Nazareth College’s Student Instagram Takeover page or Jamestown Community College’s Instagram Takeover Application.

If you aren’t ready to take the plunge and host a teen takeover on your library’s account, you can still involve teens by having them find and create content to post. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report explains that libraries are no longer a place for users to connect with just print resources, but also digital resources, library staff, community leaders, and peers. However, the report also notes that the likelihood of teens owning or having access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone varies across socioeconomic and racial demographics. Libraries are in a position to provide teens with opportunities to use these digital devices and gain experience with the photo/video editing software and apps that come with them.

Although the images and videos selected for this week’s column may not have been created or posted by teens, they provide examples of the types of content teens could create for the library. For instance, teens could take a video of a program in action or photograph a display they created by using the library catalog to find materials with specific themes or cover art. By experimenting with different apps, teens can learn how to use effects, combine music with images or video, and have fun creating content for upload on the library’s account. Seeing their work uploaded may not only make them proud of their efforts and be inspired to continue to try new things, but can also encourage them to follow the library’s social media accounts. Getting teens to follow (and continue following) the library on social media is tricky, but gaining followers allows us to maintain connections with our teens once they’ve left the physical library space.

Have you hosted a teen takeover on your library’s Instagram account or asked teens to help create content? If so, we want to hear from you!  What type of content did they create? If you hosted a takeover, how did you recruit teens who were up for the task?

Continue reading