Belgrade Community Library Teen Zone
In 2005, my community constructed a much needed 5,500 square foot library addition. The floor plan included space for materials, a community room, and storage, but it lacked something very important–an area for teens. Young adults browsed the collection, checked out items, then zipped right out the front door. As we turned our attention to youth programming, we realized the room was not helping our efforts. We wanted to encourage teens to linger, to come to the library because it was a safe, comfortable place. It was time for a Teen Zone.
With very little money and very little floor space, the library created a comfortable area that is frequently used by local middle and high school students to read, socialize, study, play computer games and craft. Here is how we did it: Continue reading
Belgrade Community Library Teen Zone in rural Montana.
Working in a rural library often means a small space, a small budget, and a small staff. Despite all the hurdles to overcome, teen library services are very important in rural communities where other facilities for teens may not exist. In my community, the need for productive teen activities has popped up in both community and library needs assessments. With just over 10,000 people in our service area, the library is one of the few places in the community open to young adults outside of school hours. We have an important role to play in providing a safe and enriching space for teens, but this can seem like a daunting task when your official job description ranges from baby story time to technical services.
I work directly with teens every day, but my job involves a wide range of other tasks. Like many other rural librarians, I sometimes start my work day singing with toddlers and finish it with offering assistance to older adults on the computer, but teens deserve to have services tailored just for them, even in the smallest public library. YALSA’s Public Library Evaluation Tool provides examples of basic to distinguished public library practices as they pertain to teens. One element of this tool that stands out to me is “equitable funding and staffing levels.” Step back for a moment and think about whether or not your institution is providing equitable resources and time toward teen services. Between fixing the printer, collection development, and desk schedules, we must find the time to offer quality services and programs to teens. Continue reading
Title: Discovr by Filter Squad
Platform: iOS 7.0 or later on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (optimized for iPhone 5)
Over the last several weeks, I’ve been busy spreading the word about one of my library’s Teen Read Week programs, Express to Speak. The workshop is the culminating event of our second annual writing contest and will focus on hip hop and spoken-word poetry. With Teen Read Week and hip hop on the mind, I was inspired to “Seek the Unknown” through Discovr, an app created for music exploration.
There are a few different apps on the market designed to introduce listeners to a variety of artists (e.g. Spotify, Pandora, etc.), but Discovr offers something unique–interactive Music Maps that draw connections between similar musicians. Start the process by searching for a musician, and the app will create a map with new bands. If you wish to expand your options, tap a musician and watch the map grow. Continue reading
Title: Sing! Karaoke by Smule
Cost: Free (additional credits must be purchased or earned for some songs)
Platform: iOS 5.0 or later on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad; Android 4.0 and up.
So you may not be an American Idol or the Voice, but who doesn’t like a little friendly, musical competition? Sing! gives smartphone and tablet users the opportunity to compete karaoke style from anywhere. Sing the words on the screen, and earn points for rhythmic and vocal accuracy. If you are especially proud of (or amused by) your performance, you can share the recording with other Sing! users and watch it climb the “Hot Performances” list. There is an additional option to share your talent via facebook, twitter, and other social media sites, or if you’re feeling a bit shy, you can keep your performance private. Continue reading
Title: iPoe – the Interactive and Illustrated Edgar Allan Poe Collection by Play Creatividad
Platform: iOS 4.3 or later on iPhone and iPad
Mr. Edgar Allan Poe just celebrated his 204th birthday last month (Jan 19). Even though his writing is almost two centuries old, teen patrons still check out Poe’s macabre stories for required and leisure reading. There is something about Poe’s language that makes me want to either draw a picture or share the text out loud (“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary…”). Apparently, I’m not alone; I was thrilled to learn about the iPoe interactive app from a fellow techie earlier this month. Full of creepy illustrations, sounds, and interactive components, this five-star app digitizes Poe’s most famous tales for a modern audience. Continue reading
Title: ARSoccer – Augmented Reality Soccer Game by Laan Labs
Platform: iOS 4.0 or later.
As I sat down to write this post, I reflected quite a bit on what 2013 will bring to the app market. Teens will of course continue to be interested in apps designed to kill time and connect with their peers, but augmented reality apps may be one of the most interesting and fastest growing trends. “Augmented reality” is a view of the real world modified by some technology enhancement. AR augments our physical experience with music, data, video, and other media.
Research cited by the FierceDeveloper blog estimates that AR sales may reach $5.2 billion by 2017. Many of these apps will be marketed to teen audiences. The same post mentions a great example; the new Taylor Swift AR app allows fans to scan an image of her latest album to launch videos or hear background information about songs. Last week, Linda posted about Dimensions–another app that augments reality. Other AR apps blend the real world with fun games. ARSoccer, the App of the Week, falls into this category. Continue reading
Title: Songkick Concerts by Songkick
Platform: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later); Android 2.2 and up
Many people enjoy listening to music on their mobile devices, but this app brings the listener to the music. Songkick Concerts helps users keep track of upcoming concerts by location and artist, organizing shows on a concert calendar for easy reference.
Getting started is simple. After downloading the app, Songkick browses your device’s music library to identify the artists you listen to. Using your location and music list, the app creates a list of upcoming tour dates. You can also manually add artists or cities. Taking a trip to Boston? Add Boston and check for shows that will fit your itinerary. You can also sync your account to Facebook. This will allow you to view tour information for bands you “like” and share concerts with friends. Continue reading
Title: Cloth by Clothes Minded
Cost: Free ($.99 for the Cloth Weather upgrade)
Platform: iPhone, iPod touch (4th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G, iPad (3rd generation) and iPad Wi-Fi + 4G. Requires iOS 4.1 or later.
The new school year is quickly approaching, and the first day of school is an excellent opportunity to make a fresh fashion statement. This week’s app, Cloth by Clothes Minded, will help teens archive images of their favorite outfits for later reference. Feeling uninspired on a rainy morning? Simply click on Cloth to remember some of your closet’s best combinations.
After downloading the app, Cloth walks you through all the features with a simple tutorial. However, this app was easy to use even if you decide to skip the intro and go straight to the wardrobe. Click “Snap” to take a photo or load one from your phone’s library. Continue reading
Title: Flashcardlet (also called Flashcards* in the App Store)
Cost: Free or $2.99 for no advertisements
Platform: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.
Finals and AP exams are almost (or already!) here for many of the teens we serve. Top-rated study applications can help students organize their notes and prepare for end of the semester tests. This week’s app, Flashcardlet, lets teens create, share, and use study materials anywhere.
There are several flashcard apps out there, but students that need more than text to study will appreciate Flashcardlet’s features. A step beyond the traditional pen and paper flashcard, this app allows you to view images. Create your own deck or download one from Quizlet.com to study SAT vocabulary, science and math diagrams, art history, or any other subject imaginable. If you find or make a study deck that will be useful for a friend, share it by using Dropbox or email. Continue reading
Platform: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
Too often innovative ideas are quashed by questions like “How will we fund that?” or “How will staff have enough time?” Inevitably, change requires a bit of sacrifice–if you are going to fund a new idea, you either have to generate more resources or take a little bit from somewhere else. Even with shifting dollars, there still might be only a small available budget. This is why I love apps! Apps often help you produce something new and interesting with only a small cost. The app I tested this week falls into the “cheap with big results” category. For only $1.99 and some patience, you can use WordFoto to generate colorful, eye-catching publicity materials. Continue reading