App of the Week: Wattpad

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Title: Wattpad
Platforms: iOS and Android, also web-based
Cost: Free

This spring, a student asked me if I knew about After, the One Direction fanfic “everyone was reading on Wattpad.” Then I saw Clive Thompson looking for people who were publishing on Wattpad… and I fell into the rabbit hole that is the reading/writing/commenting site.

After had already landed author Anna Todd a three-book deal, but that wasn’t the only interesting thing about Wattpad.
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Probably not surprisingly based on its fanfiction roots, YA is especially strong on Wattpad. The influences are somewhat predictable. One young writer named daven whose “story” (as all narratives as labeled) December I particularly liked, had a profile pic featuring her with Rainbow Rowell.
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2013 Technology Trend: Ramped-Up Gaming

Full confessions: I’m terrible at video games. I lack the hand/eye coordination needed to work magic with the controllers. But I like to watch gamers. I know I need more practice, and I think that I would love gaming if I didn’t get so frustrated. It’s a vicious cycle.

Gaming in the library seems to come in cycles. First there was the DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and Guitar Hero, big spectacles that could be as much to watch as to play. Librarians raved about those parties. Then there was the Wii games – specifically, sports with teens (and also with seniors). Once a niche event, National Gaming Day has expanded and evolved into International Games Day.

This year Minecraft programs have swept through libraries around the country, but the Darien Library in Connecticut took it to the next level, scaling up to make the gaming experience even better. They host a county-wide server. Continue reading

Dystopians … Ah, Freedom!

by author Jonathan Friesen

I awoke from my nap to this sight: My son, eight-years old, standing on the deck. I saw him through my bedroom window, and watched as he stared up at the sky.

He began to conduct. With large flourishes, that kid swept his arms to and fro, and the rain fell, soft at first and then harder and harder as he gestured with more drama. He was soaked, and he was in his glory. Finally, the rain slowed, and the wind died. He held his hands above his head for a good half minute, silencing the last drop. My son turned, paused and turned back, waving at the clouds, thanking the One who for five minutes gave him control of the sky.

He has absolutely no interest in dystopians.

My eight-year old stares with eyes of wonder at the everyday of life. Sudden storms, the new kittens, the old oak. He shrugs off the hundreds of controls placed on his very regulated existence: get up at seven, gather the chicken eggs, don a fresh shirt, etc. The rules and regulations that order his young world don’t bother him in the least. Continue reading

“Welcome to Battle School”: Ender’s Game Party

by Mirele Davis and Elizabeth Savopoulos

In order to spark more interest in recreational reading, our school library decided to throw an Ender’s Game party in anticipation of the release of the Ender’s Game movie. Our library at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School had never had an event like this in its history, and we were proud to be the pioneers.  The goal, we decided, was to stimulate student interest in reading the book and in reading for pleasure in general.  We began preparing a month in advance, posting announcements on our website, putting up flyers around the school, and making special announcements during lunch-time and advisory meetings.

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We selected a student who was enthusiastic about the project to take on a formal participatory role in planning the event. He attended planning meetings, helped with advertising, and contributed to the overall vision and goals of the event. We advertised a space-themed party that would include neon snacks, space-themed video games, a spaceship Lego building contest, and a simulated laser-tag battle based on the tournaments in Ender’s Game. Continue reading

YA Programming Behind the Scenes: Anime Fest

This was our third Annual Anime Fest. Our goal when planning this program was to expose the teens to aspects of Japanese culture featured in the manga and anime in our collection, as well as to get them talking about their favorite anime and manga. The teens are geektastic in their exuberance for anime and manga, but they often don’t have friends who share their passion. We bring these people together, and the results are so fun to witness. In previous years we’ve learned samurai moves from a kendo instructor, made mochi (a Japanese dessert), listened to Japanese pop music, and created kokeshi dolls.

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Our event features several staple activities every year. They include eating with chopsticks, dressing in yukatas (summer kimonos), watching anime (this year we watched Legend of the Millennium Dragon), and playing Naruto Wii.

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We then bring in a few new elements to keep it fresh. Continue reading

YA Programming Behind the Scenes: DJ Mixing

DJ mixing  is essentially creating a continuous musical track by combining songs or sounds, mixed together using loops, scratching, or other techniques. The Teen Advisory Group tends to be drawn more to geeking out, crafting, and competition. But as this has a much cooler vibe than most, this program brought in some guys that had never shown up at our events before.

713 DJ Mixing

For this event, we bought one basic DJ mixer (the MixVibes Ion Discover DJ with MixVibes Cross) which works with your desktop computer’s iTunes. Basically it can pull all your iTunes songs straight into the MixVibes Cross software where you can then mix up the songs, scratch, loop, and create playlists. Some accomplished DJs you might know include DJ Jazzy Jeff, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, DJ AM, Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, Grandmaster Flash, Spinderella, DJ Skribble, Samantha Ronson, and Jam Master Jay, and while the DJ mixer software is simple to use, it has enough bells and whistles for a beginner to play with. Continue reading

App of the Week: Sing! Karaoke

Sing!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

YALSAblog Tweets of the Week – August 2, 2013

A weekly short list of tweets that librarians and the teens that they serve may find interesting.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between August 2 and August 8 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
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Religion and Libraries: Programming

There are three basic ways to incorporate religion into teen programming: collaborate with religious organizations, outreach programming at a religious event or location, and programming with a religious theme.   By the end of this post, you should feel empowered to take these best practices into your own programming, and to your coworkers.

Just like the civic groups libraries frequently collaborate with (Kiwanis, United Way, schools, etc.), religious organizations have what libraries desire most in our programming: people.  When you collaborate with a religious organization, you’ve automatically got an audience, who you can now market to more effectively, and, if you’ve planned your program well, participation in the collaborative effort will be natural.  By opening the library to collaborations with religious institutions, you also gain access to additional funding—either monetary in nature or in volunteer hours.  Collaborations with religious organizations help the library expand services to a greater number of its patrons than it could have done on its own.
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