February is African-American History Month and libraries all over the country are celebrating this month with a variety of programs and displays. For teens, music and art are tools that will bring them together regardless of their race, religion, sex, and abilities so let’s use these art forms to celebrate this important event in a creative and innovative way. Here are two ideas that will appeal to teens and help them become part of a bigger conversation when it comes to equality and freedom.

record-828983_640Blues & Civil Rights Movement Listening Party

With the return of the record player and vinyl, teens can meet up and listen to a variety of Blues artists while learning the history of the Blues. Select a few artists and throw together a PowerPoint, or Prezi presentation, to provide a little background information about the origin of the Blues and how this genre provided momentum for the Civil Rights Movement. Once you have selected artists, play tracks that will interest teens and throw up the lyrics, or provide handouts, so they can read them while they listen. Once they have finished listening to the tracks, ask questions about the songs and see what kind of responses teens come up with. Here are a few examples from youTube that will definitely illicit interesting conversation:

Just like the traditional book club, we can form the conversation in a similar fashion where the lyrics become the story. Have teens write down their initial thoughts of the songs before discussing the meaning of the lyrics. When everyone has had a chance to write down their thoughts, ask teens to share their interpretations. Once everyone shares their findings, discuss how these ideas convey the meaning of the song. Let teens know that no one has a right or wrong answer, but do ask if this discussion has provided a better understanding of why these songs were incredible tools to help bring awareness to the Civil Rights Movement. If you have the time, or want to turn this program into series, expand upon your program by including the songs of protest of the Vietnam War and the rise of the Black Panther party to inner city violence and the birth of Hip Hop.

If your library doesn’t have access to a record player, you can easily purchase CDs and play them through a sound system. If you have the ability to purchase a record player, it will introduce teens to wonder of record players and provide them with actual evidence as to recording music tracks have evolved over the decades. You can easily purchase a record player on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Target, and Best Buy. As for the vinyl, you can also easily purchase these online or in stores that carry vinyl. I highly recommend visiting your local record store because you may be able to find used records, which will save you money, but make the experience even more awesome.

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Rose Quartz and Serenity are the official colors of 2016, according to Pantone.

Normally, one color is selected each year, and it influences fashion, impacts what consumers will see in movies, television, media, and design, and invariably reflects our culture.

Normally I don’t pay attention, but the selections for this year are meant to help start a conversation about gender, and break down our preconceived notions about color assignments.

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Last month, I started an anime club at my branch library because anime is still, and always will be, popular. In fact, we had six teens show up to the very first meeting and, needless to say, they are super excited to be a part of this program. During our first meeting, I asked the teens what they want to see in anime club and the first thing they asked me was: “Can we do more than just watch anime? I literally screamed “YES!” because I have every intention of diversifying this program and I will definitely need the teens’ help in making this club thrive.

During our discussion about the club, the teens asked for a variety of programs that would include a cosplay event, a history of manga presentation, a Japanese food program, an anime inspired craft workshop, and other programs that celebrate the Japanese culture. Not only are these ingenious ideas, these will transform an already popular program into something else even more awesome. By taking a different approach to anime club, and asking teens what they want from a program, we, as teen services librarians, are demonstrating what it is to be innovative. According to the Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession, innovation “approaches projects and challenges with a creative, innovative mindset. 1” By changing the concept of anime club (aka. sitting around and watching anime), we are adding elements that have the potential to not only bring in more teens, but help us re-evaluate our approach to programming in general. For example, when starting a new service or program, it is absolutely essential to consult our teens; by going straight to the source, we establish the outcomes we want to reach, which will shape how we plan and implement a successful program. Once we get a consensus of what teens want from programs and services, we need to figure out the best ways to get teens into the library, which is why we need to get innovative with our outreach.

Although many of us use social media and other marketing methods, the one method that we can always rely on is reaching out to our community. Whether it’s a concert venue, a teen center, a school event, or even a college fair, we need to meet teens face-to-face and tell them what services are available. If we don’t have the means, or the opportunities to go out into the community, we can easily apply that idea to every teen that walks into our library. In other words, we need to be vigilant in making sure that every teen is welcome and that we are available to serve them to the best of our ability. Furthermore, we need to do everything in our power to establish some sort of contact with them, which can easily start with “Hi! I am the Teen Services Librarian. What’s your name?” By initiating, and creating an ongoing dialogue with teens, they will realize that there are actual adults who are dedicated to serving them, which is not only great for us, but incredibly beneficial for those who need a safe environment to be who they are and for those who feel the need to be a part of something. With this new anime club, my hope is to not only involve the teens in the planning process, but give them the chance to be involved in the implementation. Whether it’s passing out flyers, using their massive social network to promote the program, or setting up the program, teens will experience all the necessary steps to finish what they started. Anything is possible with teens so let’s give them the chance to show the community their passion and dedication to providing something unique and fun!

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

This week we’re looking at two ways to spice up your library’s Instagram account and engage users with library memes and opening lines of books. With websites that allow you to create your own memes using popular themes or uploaded images, the possibilities for witty library humor are endless! For #firstlinefriday or #firstsentence posts on the first of each month, some libraries share opening lines of books as a way to engage followers with trivia, to advertise an upcoming book club, or showcase new materials in the collection.

Have you created memes for your library’s social media accounts? Have a preferred go to meme generator? Posted any opening lines? Share with us in the comments section below!

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

May the fourth be with you. Today is May 4 and that can only mean one thing — it’s Star Wars Day! A nod to the phrase “May the force be with you” from the movies, today is a day for fans to celebrate their favorite franchise. Not to be confused with Star Wars Reads Day which has been held in October (October 6 in 2012, October 5 in 2013, and October 11 in 2014) to celebrate reading, Star Wars Day grew out of a grassroots movement started by fans and gained the support of Lucasfilm Ltd. With the release of the newest film Episode VII: The Force Awakens debuting in December, the excitement surrounding the Star Wars saga is on the rise. Over the past week, many libraries have been preparing for today, sharing Instagram sneak peeks of displays and programs. Enjoy your Star Wars Day celebrations, but beware of the Revenge of the Fifth tomorrow…

In addition, this past Saturday, May 2 was Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). Held on the first Saturday of May since 2002, FCBD is a single-day celebration of comics during which participating shops, libraries, and schools distribute free comic books. From hosting library Comic Cons to crafting with recycled comic book pages, this year’s participating libraries offered a variety of activities in addition to free comics.

Did you hold an event for Star Wars day or participate in Free Comic Book Day? We want to hear from you! How did you spotlight your Star Wars collection for your teens and which programs did you offer? For FCBD, how did you obtain your comic books? How did you get the word out to your community?


For more information about Star Wars Day and the upcoming movie release, visit the official Star Wars website at: http://www.starwars.com/

For more information about Free Comic Book Day, visit the official website at: http://www.freecomicbookday.com

 

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

It’s that time of year when public, school, and academic libraries start to feel the madness — the book madness, that is!  To coincide with the March Madness basketball tournament, many libraries are hosting their own tournament with brackets of books. Frequently called Literary March Madness or Book Madness, librarians pit books against one another and ask library users to vote for their favorite titles. The sky is the limit when it comes to organizing brackets as the examples below spotlight different genres or categories (teen books vs. banned books, humor vs. local writers), sports books in general, staff picks, or pit popular characters against each other. When it comes to the voting process, there is also a bit of variation with some libraries opting for traditional handwritten bracket sheets and others heading online via social media, Google forms, or Survey Monkey.

Is you library participating in the big book dance and hosting a literary tournament? We want to hear from you! How do you go about choosing which books to include? Do you set up the pairings yourself or are you a fan of an online bracket generator?  Which method of submitting votes have you found works best for your teens? Do you change your categories from year to year to keep it interesting?

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Pizza Rolls not Gender Roles

Last week to celebrate Woman’s History Month several Youtube personalities created videos  highlighting some of the issues with America’s gender norms.

One of the vloggers, Kristina Horner, created a video about how YA literature has become gendered. From different covers to how we label genre’s there are many ways subtle clues are sent to potential readers about what books they are meant to read.

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Snapchat in the media center?  Isn’t it just another photo messaging app that has filters and picture enhancements?  After all, Snapchat pictures disappear after ten seconds.  At least with Instagram, the images are saved for long term viewing.  So why should media specialists even consider it as a way to reach their students?

Spontaneity.  Simple glimpses into the daily life of users.  This is what has helped Snapchat become one of the fastest growing photo messaging apps since its release in 2011.  “Snaps” come off as unprepared and candid which can make the images even more engaging knowing that they are simply a snapshot of a moment in someone’s life.  What is daily life like in your media center?  Document it with Snapchat.  Images of a student nestled up with a good book in the stacks, a group of students engaged in research, or ideas at work in a makerspace.  All of these images are opportunities for media specialists to showcase their media center in a format that teens have quickly adopted.  Snapchat also offers a Story feature now that allows multiple images to be displayed for up to 24 hours.  Media specialists can highlight a whole day’s activities during a special event, such as Teen Tech Week.

IMG_0285IMG_0287IMG_0288 (2)

One of the biggest appeals to using Snapchat as a way to reach students is the group safety features that the app has in place. When an image is sent to multiple users, the message still appears as an individual message to each user.  There is no record of every user that the image was sent to.  A media specialist can send a “snap” to multiple users, but the users will not have access to the other users’ information.

Of course, every picture messaging app has its drawbacks.  Teens were quick to jump on the bandwagon of this social media tool, and Snapchat quickly earned a bad reputation as a “sexting” app since users assumed risque pictures “vanished” after ten seconds. Users learned that images can be screenshot and saved for long past the mere seconds that Snapchat offers.  In response to concerns, Snapchat recently created the Snapchat Safety Center and released a safety guide on Feb. 23, 2015 titled “A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat”.  Media specialists could also use the Safety Center information and the guide as part of their digital citizenship and technology safety program with students.

Media specialists are always looking for new ways to reach their students.  Snapchat is used by 42% of teenage mobile users, according to Statista.com.  If the students are using it, then media specialists should at least give Snapchat a chance.  It is easy to add users, just “snap” the ghost icon on a user’s Profile screen.  So set up an account today and start sending “snaps” to give your students a glimpse into the daily life of your media center.