Programming is challenging, especially when you have to anticipate

Since May, I’ve been part of a planning team designing a week-long summer camp (July 20-24, 2015) for 8-12 year olds and for teens in the Peoria Heights (IL) area. This team is a smaller aspect of a much larger project, the Digital Innovation Leadership Program (DILP). This project is funded through the University of Illinois Extension and works with 4H offices across Illinois to plan and lead programs. Our goal is to focus on three learning areas: digital manufacturing, digital media production, and data analytics.

For me, it’s an exciting grant because it really builds off what I’ve done this past year. I get the opportunity to think more about digital literacy and how what I learned can be applied in other situations, always bending the curriculum/workshop to fit the context of the group. Additionally, I played a major role in the creation of the 8-12 year old camp and played a support role in developing the curriculum for the teens. The teens are building off the work of Ann Bishop and her team have been doing in Seattle: InfoMe, which I wrote about in my December 2014 post. Here are five things I learned (or got confirmed) about planning along the way.

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Anime Collection Development & Programming: Part 3 – Programming with Anime

My first library program was a  failed teen writing workshop which, tragically, no one showed up to. The current teen librarian at our branch was having a little more success than I was at that time. Her programs typically had between 4-8 people in them. I decided to give the anime a shot.

The anime club started off with a bang. 17 people showed up to our first showing to watch Full Metal Alchemist. More importantly, it has held consistent. Over the last 6 months, I have averaged 12 people per showing. When I started doing the anime club, we were using Movie Licensing USA, which has a handful of anime titles on its base list and for a small fee gives access to their expanded anime collection. The list included many classics of the genre. However, our library has a policy against showing rated-R movies. Once we ruled these out, I found the list to be short and somewhat dated. I figured I could do a year worth of once-a-month programming, at this point. The teens were still showing up, but not the 17 that I had at my first showing. 7 would come one month, 8 the next, then down to 4. Then I heard about Crunchyroll.

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Anime Collection Development & Programming: Part 2 – Language Selection, Ratings, and Helpful Resources

Choosing anime to order or use in programming can be tricky. A vast majority of anime is in Japanese (or all of it depending on how strictly you want to follow the definition). Sometimes you will have to make the decision on dubbed and subtitled. It’s easy to think, “Well they will all want to hear it in English so I’ll get the dubbed version”, but this is not always the case. The teen librarian at another branch recently had a program where they started with the dubbed version but decided they’d rather do the subtitles. Many of the more hardcore fans prefer the subtitles. I’ve found the younger audiences and more casual viewers prefer the dubbed version.

Another part of anime that can cause problems is ratings. The Japanese have a more liberal view of what can be shown on TV than we tend to have here. Because of this and because their movies are coming over without being vetted by our rating systems, much of what you are going to be buying isn’t rated. Being unrated is not quite the same thing we’ve come to expect from our “unrated” films. I remember as a teen being excited about the unrated version of Blade because it meant Wesley Snipes would be chopping up a lot more bad guys in ways they weren’t allowed to put in theater. With the anime, it just means it has not been rated by the MPAA. It could be the most innocent show about a middle school baseball team and still be unrated. With anime though, it could also be about a middle school baseball team and be not-so-innocent. You never really know without researching, because there isn’t always that nice box that says, “Contains violence and some profanity” when you order it.

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Anime Collection Development & Programming: Part 1 – Anime Collection Development

Anime – it is a term that I have learned makes many librarians cringe. As soon as the subject is broached, they immediately pawn it off on a younger clerk or page who knows about such things. And you can’t really blame them! The titles can be nearly impossible to spell and that’s assuming the patron says it right. Between “seasons”, “collections”, and “OVAs” (Original Video Animation; basically straight to DVD without a theater or television release), each series has multiple versions. To top it off, since they aren’t rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, it is hard to figure out what is appropriate for whom.

So when it comes time to do the collection development, this portion of the collection can be neglected and dated. Beyond this, librarians may be ignoring it as a useful programming tool to bring in one of our hardest demographics, the teens!

The good news is, you don’t need to know much about anime to get started. In my job interview, I was asked what kind of programs I would like to implement for teens. I dug back into my days interning in grad school and helping their teen librarian host their wildly popular anime club. At the time of the interview, I had seen maybe 2 or 3 anime films. Suddenly, now I was “the anime guy” at my new job. I was asked to order all the anime movies for 10 branches.

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App of the Week: Pursuit of Light

Title: Pursuit of Light
Cost: $1.99
Platform: iOS 7 or later

pursuit of light logoPursuit of Light is a game in which players have to move through a set of challenges in order to help the main character reach the light. The challenges get harder as the game play progresses and as higher levels are reached more trouble-shooting and critical thinking skills are required. The video below provides a brief overview of how the game works.

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Instagram of the Week – April 27

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

Showing off those new books and media!

Spring is in the air and new books and media items are popping up on our shelves. Now, how do we help our teens pick them and take them home? It’s interesting to see the variation in library posts that spread the word about new materials. Some post photos as soon as those delivery boxes are unpacked or as the books are nearly finished with processing. Others share a photo of all of the books in the new section or highlight one title with a brief summary or review. Participating in weekly columns such as #bookfacefriday and #fridayreads or April’s spine poetry contests can be another way to spotlight new titles in the collection. In addition to drumming up interest for new materials, these posts provide a great opportunity to remind our patrons that items can be placed on hold.

How do you show off your new materials? Have you found an approach that generates the most interest? Share with us in the comments section below!

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30 Days of Teen Programming: Would this ACTUALLY work? A graduate student contemplates Twitter

When the email got sent around the bloggers about doing a 30 days of programming, my mind instantly went blank. I’m just a librarian-in-training and haven’t done a lot of hands-on programming with teens. What could I bring to the conversation?

Then I remembered I did have a program. A hypothetical one that is. I’m currently taking a Media Literacy for Youth class which has been amazing. One of our assignments was to create either a lesson or program plan about a media literacy topic. It could be targeted to any age group and should last 2-3 hours. We had to write about outcomes, lay out all the activities, essentially plan it so some librarian could do it with the kids they work with.

I’ll lay out my idea and then want your feedback. Is this program realistic? Would it work with the teens you work with? And if it’s not realistic, what needs to be changed?

So…here I go!

As a twenty-something, I would say I’m pretty well-connected in social media. If someone asked what my favorite social media platform is, I would say it’s Twitter. There something exciting about Twitter when you think about it like a cocktail party (shout out to blogger Dave Charest for this analogy) — there are hundreds of conversations going on around you and you decide which ones to tap into. And our teens are using it so why not have a program that challenges them to think about not only how they use Twitter, but how others use Twitter?

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Instagram of the Week – April 12th

Are you preparing for Summer Reading?

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

Where has the time gone? Is it really almost time for summer reading again? Didn’t we just finish last years summer reading? Well let’s get our super powers charge up and talk about how we are preparing for teen summer reading.

This year’s theme is UnMask! How fun is this going to be?! The ‘grams below are just a taste of what we can do to prepare. From awesome displays to getting in to full superhero character to creating great PR materials. Teens are going to love this theme this summer and by using your imagination you can draw in there attention! Maybe have a wall that is a depiction of Gotham City, or use old boxes and make Superman’s telephone booth. Dress like your favorite character or keep it simple and wear a superhero tie or fun headband. No matter how small or big you go, you are bound to hit it out of the park this year!

Comment below and let us know some of what you plan to do this summer!

30 Days of Teen Programming: Using Tournaments for Teen Lead Program

One thing many of my teens enjoy is competition. Whether they play for bragging rights or a gift card, they enjoy being the master or best in their favorite games. Over the years I’ve learned that hosting tournaments is an easy program that can gets my teens really excited and involved in the planning.

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The “Activity Gap”: More thoughts on libraries and after-school programs

Back in October 2014, I wrote about a report entitled: “America After 3 PM.” The Afterschool Alliance was writing about how students spend their time after school. In it, I raised the point of libraries as hubs for after-school activities, a free spot for teens to come if they don’t have the resources or access to other after-school programs. At the end of January, Alia Wong from Atlantic wrote an article called “The Activity Gap,” which discusses the access issues students from various socio-economic classes face with participating in after-school and extracurricular programs.

Wong begins the article by comparing two different students, Ethan and Nicole, whose family backgrounds contribute to two different lifestyles and life paths. While their names have been changed, these two students do exist and were case studies in a study published in Voices of Urban Education. This national study was conducted by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute of School Reform.

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