When the Teen Tech Week grant was written, it was hoped that we could get teens interested in more library programs. Teens will show up to use the computers to chat with friends and watch internet videos, but mention digital literacy or STEM/STEAM and they’ll look at you like you’re an alien. Don’t get me wrong; our schools are hardworking, Title I schools that strive to teach students what they can. But a rural area of Lafourche Parish is not really at the top of the list for the fast paced information technology industry.

Like any library in the country, we know we have to get them young or we lose them until they’re adults. And without many options they’re not going to stay in this area. The public library still has that stereotypical “the library is where the losers hang out” view to contend with among the teens. Our programming has to be unusual to get them in. We all know video games are always a popular draw. I’ve used free programs like Scratch and Kodu with them before. But the funds and resources to host a large scale video game design program were simply beyond our scope before now.

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YOUmedia Hartford is a digital learning and maker space for teens ages 13-19.  The space is a research-informed, informal learning environment utilizing principles of connected learning, the HOMAGO learning theory and positive youth development.  Students come to Hang Out, Mess Around and Geek Out in content areas that include video and photo production, music production, game design, computer programming, design and making.  Through partnerships with local artists and professionals, businesses, schools and other informal learning spaces, students discover new opportunities and build knowledge and skills in areas of interest.  For instance, this coming summer students will work with award-winning producer Quadeer Shakur to produce, distribute and market a Best of Hartford Hip Hop album.  Others will work with a local botanist to build a hydroponic window garden from recycled materials.  Still more will enter 3D modeling, design and film contests under the guidance of our mentors.  Hundreds others will seek help with homework and personal projects, meet new friends and attend social events.

For Teen Tech Week the YOUmedia Hartford staff wanted to get out of the library and into classrooms, and so we did!  Through partnerships with several local schools we were able to take e-textiles and stop motion animation workshops on the road.  The projects showcased the variety of activities available at YOUmedia and to expose students to the processes behind some very fun and practical technologies.  These workshops also acted as carrots to attract new youth to the space, so that they might find themselves immersed in a resource-rich environment, staffed with knowledgeable mentors and full-to-the-brim with other young people exploring similar pursuits.  All of the materials used for the workshops are available freely to any youth in the space.

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This is my 2nd year of being a media specialist so this is my first go around with Teen Tech Week.  We have come up with about 17 activities at Chestatee High School for our students to try their hand with at learning.  Some activities are limited for just a few students to be working with at a time like the Spheros, Exofabulatronixx Robot, slow motion animation, Makey Makey, K’nex, Chaos Tower and littleBits.  These items will help our students to learn about coding, building, circuitry, and video making.  This allows our students a new opportunity to learn something or to further their knowledge of a passion they already enjoy.  We received the grant from YALSA and Best Buy and we were able to purchase Spheros and an Exofabulatronixx Robot.  Both of these items will help our students learn the skill of coding.  The Sphero is merely a remote controlled ball in which they can program its movements.  We hope to incorporate the Sphero and coding into a math course next year.  Teen Tech Week will give the students the first glimpse of what they can accomplish with such a simple tool.  The Exofabulatronixx Robot is one in which our students can put together and take apart and put together in a different form again.  Its pieces connect by means of magnets.  When the students have finished creating their robot, they are then able to create a program which will tell their robot what path to take.

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In 2012 the Teen Advisory Board received a grant from the Nebraska Library Commission (NLC) of $1,900 to start a Teen Media Club to give teens a chance to learn how to create digital content. Many of my teens do not have access to basic technologies. The library’s computer lab does not have filters so you must be 17 to enter which means that our community’s teens that do not have access to computers outside of school can’t even use the library’s resources. Many of my teens do not have Internet at home, have outdated computers that seem to freeze all the time and not connect to the library’s wireless, and many do not have smartphones.

The goal of Media Club was to use technology to enable teens to create such things as book trailers and the creation and maintenance of a teen library website. The original NLC grant funds were used to purchase an HD Digital Recorder, a laptop for the teens, and various props for their videos. While there still is a lot of interest in Media Club we realized that just having a camera and a laptop was not enough. As we went about beginning to create, draft, and record various video projects we learned that we really need certain other tech equipment to properly be able to run our club. We discovered this after a large-scale project (La Vista’s Next Top Project Snazz Maszter—a “reality” show cross between America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway) which we filmed during a 17-hour lock-in (filming all 17 hours!) and discovered afterward that a lot of the film was unusable. Our library has 20-foot ceilings and the sound on most of our film was barely audible because of echoes. We also realized free film editing software can’t do things like green screen effects. The teens decided they wanted me to apply for a YALSA/Best Buy Teen Tech Week grant for funds to be used toward the purchase of the additional equipment we need to get Media Club properly equipped and off the ground again.

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A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. A new month with a new season approaching can only mean one thing -- new book displays! From fireplaces Catching Fire to snowmen and book trees, these displays were snow cool that we just had to share. What types of displays are you putting together this month? Do your teens have a role is putting everything together?

It's also the time of year for "Best of" book lists. The 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards were recently announced as were Epic Reads' 2014 Shimmy Award Winners. YALSA announced the finalists of both the William C. Morris and Excellence in Nonfiction Awards and School Library Journal presented their list of the 70 best books of 2014. Are you using social media to promote these titles and educate teens about these awards? If so, tell us how in the comments section below.

To view this week's Instagram images, please follow this link: Instagram of the Week - December 8

Have you come across a Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

In March of 2014, Albany Public Library was awarded a YALSA Teen Tech Week grant, supporting a music production program we were excited to try.  We called it Build-A-Song, and the idea was to help teens create an original song from scratch, in just five days.  Thanks to the YALSA grant, and with additional assistance from our local Guitar Center, we put together a mobile recording setup that included a Mac Mini with GarageBand and ProTools Express, PreSonus USB Audio Interface, two microphones with a stand and vocal pop filter, studio monitor speakers, headphones, and a MIDI keyboard. We already owned several guitars that we used for free music instruction programs, as well as several percussion instruments; with these and the software instruments available, we had all the ingredients for a full band.  To actually build the song, we dedicated one day to each of the following: drums and bass, guitars and keyboards, electronic effects, vocals, and finally mixing and mastering.  We also put out lyric prompts and a submission jar, and invited teens to write anything from a word to a couplet or even full song.  These would provide material and inspiration when it came time to record vocals.  We decided to record in the middle of our busy youth services room, valuing participation over pristine recording conditions.

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We started the first day by showing teens the basics of the recording software.  We decided to use GarageBand because of its easier learning curve and since we have several iPads for teen use that have it installed.  Teens chose a tempo, and then collectively selected a pre-recorded beat to work from -- this was the only component of the final song not composed or played by teens.  Next, they used the MIDI keyboard to trigger various drum and percussion sounds and create their own beats.  The bassline came next, which was created by lowering the pitch of an electric guitar two octaves .  Though they were encouraged to do so, none of the teens wanted to try playing the guitar themselves, so one of the youth services librarians became their hands and played notes and ultimately a full bass riff dictated by teens.

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Happy Fall!

I just wanted to thank our members for the 537 volunteer committee applications that were submitted and to give everyone an update on the award and selection committee appointments process!

The appointments task force was finalized in October and award and selection committee chairs were selected. The appointments task force and I are still working on filling all of the award and selection committee member vacancies, but rosters should be finalized soon.

Appointing the local arrangements committee for Midwinter 2015 is the next priority.

ALA Appointments: There has been one ALA Appointment call to review the general ALA appointment process. The slate for the nominating committee has not been officially presented, but does include one YALSA member.

ALA President Elect Sari Feldman has put out a call for volunteers for the ALA committees listed below. Please let me know if you are interested in being recommended for any of them. The ALA application form closes this Friday, November 7, 2014.

It's been a pleasure and a privilege to go through all of your applications. Thank you so much for your dedication to YALSA and to teen library services!

 

My library is the closest library to public housing in my community. Most teens who visit the library are poor. Their city is unsafe, ranking 3 on a 1 to 100 scale, with 100 being safest. Their schools are failing. The public high school was forced to restructure after years of ranking in the lowest 5% of Michigan schools. Every week I see teens who are suspended, on probation with the juvenile system, homeless, or runaways.

Despite all this, the library's Teen Zone is a mostly safe and positive space. Young people gather daily to use the computers for schoolwork, online games, and to catch up on what their friends are doing. Teens drop in and out of the library to see who's hanging out. The space is abuzz with conversation and activity. We ask everyone to engage in a library activity--access the wireless, color the tattoo and mandala designs available on the table, play xbox. Anyone who learns something at a program can ask for the supplies anytime and continue creating. An active Teen Advisory Group (TAG) helps plan and host programs.

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However, providing quality programs that engage teens and allow them to experience new technology can be a challenge. As with many libraries in the U.S., the downturn in the economy saw property tax in-takes decline while the community's needs increased. Grant money allows me to offer internships and unique programs of interest to TAG members I couldn't otherwise, so I have applied for and received several YASLA and Michigan Arts grants. I'm always watching for grants that will allow me to provide something I hope will improve the lives of teens at my library.

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Winning one of YALSA's 2014 Teen Tech Week Grants was both professionally and personally rewarding. It was my second foray into grant-writing and I was surprised that my plan for Exploring Arduino and the creation of a portable STEAM lab at my library branch had won. I was also excited to learn something new, something that “my” kids would think was fun, cool, and wanted to learn too. Of course, with any new challenge, there are degrees of success.

The overall challenge was the timeframe – only five weeks between notification that my branch had won and Teen Tech Week. ' Purchasing the equipment – three SparkFun Inventor's kits and three laptops – didn't go as planned. All the equipment used in my proposal no longer existed and were replaced by more expensive items. The Inventor's Kits now available were upgraded, simplified, and cost $10 more each; this was a blessing in disguise as I wouldn't have to solder anything and preparing the kits involved nothing more than taping two pieces together with double-sided tape. The bargain laptops? I now knew the reason they were such a bargain – discontinued for newer, faster models with greater memory capacity, and nearly double the price. So back to the Best Buy website for a laptop that fit my technology and price needs. Success! And, with the financial and logistical help of the Treasurer of my branch's Friends, three laptops were acquired in record time. The next challenge was having the laptops ready to go which meant a phone call and email to our library system's IT department. In four days, IT staff loaded anti-virus and administrative software before downloading the open-source Arduino code. The equipment that formed the basis of a portable STEAM lab was ready!

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YALSA's Awards Nominating and Governance Nominating Committees have assembled the slate for 2015.

Any individual interested in being added to the slate as a petition candidate can do so by submitting a completed Petition for YALSA Ballot form via the YALSA website found here. The closing date to submit a petition is November 2, 2014.

Please note that you must first log into your ALA account in order to access the form.

Elections open March 24, 2015 and close May 1, 2015.

The slate is as follows:

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