Little Space, Big Potential: Teen Services in a Rural Library

Belgrade Community Library Teen Zone

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

App of the Week: Pocket Avatar

Pocket AvatarApp: Pocket Avatar
Cost: Free
Platform: Android and iOS

Although Intel might not seem like a company that is focused on fun and entertaining apps, they recently released an iOS app that could change this perception. Pocket Avatar detects a user’s facial expressions and maps them onto a personalized avatar.

Getting started with Pocket Avatar requires that you create an account, but once you have, the process of making your video avatar is fairly easy. You can choose from a wide variety of characters, including over twenty that are free. The paid characters are generally $.99 and include pop culture icons such as a Care Bear and Lego Movie characters. Once you have selected and downloaded your chosen avatar, you can start recording. Pocket Avatar can record from either camera on your iPhone, making it simple to create an avatar for yourself or for a friend. Before you start recording, you will have to line up the face to be recorded in a field on your screen. You can then record up to 15 seconds of both video and audio. Rather than recording your actual face and voice, Pocket Avatar maps the expressions you make onto your selected avatar and masks your voice by making it deeper. Once you have finished recording, you can opt to either eliminate the sound completely or swap to a high-pitched version of your voice. At this point, you can also change the avatar to any other character in the app.
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Robotics for the Rest of Us

When I first started my job, I used to spend hours planning programs, planning for every possible thing that could possibly go wrong. I would arrive at my events an hour early and would nervously pace the room, thinking all the thoughts we’ve all had: Do I know what I’m doing? What if a teen has questions I can’t answer? What if I get fired and have to be a barista again? 

But since 2006, librarianship has changed. We are no longer expected to be experts and with the advent of the Maker Movement, teen programming has become more about HOMAGO than lesson plans. This led me to do something last winter that I never, ever thought I’d do: I started a Robotics Club with no knowledge of robotics. If I can do it, so can you. Here are my thoughts: Continue reading

From YALSA’s Board Meetings at ALA Annual

The YALSA Board had an extremely full agenda for its meetings during the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.  Various board members presented items for action and discussion, including a topic on a new national celebration of teen services in libraries.

Coming in at Item #26 on the agenda, Board Director Jennifer Korn proposed that Celebrate Teen Services Day take place during National Library Week in place of Celebrate Teen Literature Day.  Why the change?  As you can see in the rationale portion of the board document, YALSA currently celebrates particular facets of teen services through Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week.   What’s missing is a celebration of the overarching service area – serving teens in libraries.

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Stop putting up signs. Just stop.

Cringe-worthy, all-caps, taped-up, clip-art adorned, tattered and passive aggressive – the librarian species L-U-V-loves posting signs. I love them for all the wrong reasons and I hate them (let’s just say it’s complicated) and I’m not alone. Take a peek at this delightfully curated collection of passive-aggressive library signs over at pintrest. (http://www.pinterest.com/peterals/passive-agressive-library-unmarketing/)

So I’m here today with a challenge – Stop putting up signs. Just stop.

Just as it’s foolhardy to try devising a rule for every situation, it is just as implausible to post a sign dealing with every infraction or possible exception (in spectacular detail).

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21st Century Teens: Literacy in a Digital World

At the 2014 ALA Annual Conference, YALSA hosted 21st Century Teens: Literacy in a Digital World, a full-day workshop. Thanks to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and Blink, this workshop was free for attendees who applied earlier this year. The workshop was broken into shorter presentations by librarians, authors, and other experts on topics relevant to teens and the librarians who work with them.

The session kicked off with Common Core 101, a presentation by Kathryn Lewis, director of media services and instructional technology for Norman (Okla.) Public Schools and chair of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Common Core task force about the Common Core Standards as they relate to public and school librarians. She talked about the big picture ideas of the Common Core, including that it is focused on results, not on prescribing a curriculum. Both public and school librarians should be familiar with the standards, especially since research and media skills and reading are integrated throughout the standards. She also emphasized the importance of reading choice, since students are more likely to read higher complexity materials if they are interested in the subject matter, and the importance of students being able to enjoy the pleasure of fun, easy reading.

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Don’t Call Them Dropouts

A new report from America’s Promise Alliance finds that students who leave high school without graduating are often overwhelmed by a cluster of negative impacts of poverty. You can read the full 72 page report (pdf) online, but here are some highlights (if that’s even the right word) to note:

  • Approximately 20 percent of young people (that’s about 800,000 per year) don’t graduate from high school
  • Toxic home, school, or neighborhood environments–sources of violence, disrespect and adverse health–lead young people to stop going to school
  • Connectedness to others can lead young people both toward and away from school
  • Even young people who are able to “bounce back” from an interrupted education are often unable to re-engage in the longer-term

So what does all this mean for libraries?
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YALSAblog Tweets of the Week – July 4, 2014

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

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 July 4 and July 10 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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Junior Year: An Open Letter to Incoming Juniors

Hello, upcoming Juniors! You’ve probably already heard the horror stories. And no doubt your parents and older siblings and guidance counselors have already instilled within you their endless mantra of “Junior year is the most important year”. This may be freaking you out a little about what is to come. It’s true, Junior year seems intimidating. It’s full of standardized testing and AP classes and lots and lots of college preparation. But don’t fear. As a rising senior myself, I offer my sagely wisdom to you.  I will address topics from how to prepare for this upcoming school year to how to end the year ready to tackle the college application process; all from a student’s perspective. I hope you may find my blogs and advice useful to you. As summer is just beginning, this first installment will be about how to best prepare for the year ahead and also be productive this summer.  Let’s begin!

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Partnership Profile: Library Linx

In these days of budget cuts and less than optimal school libraries and school library staffing, what can a public library system do to help?  Many of us front-line youth and teen services librarians work diligently to make and foster connections with teachers, administrators, and school media specialists with varying degrees of success.  Nearly ten years ago in 2005, my employer, Deschutes Public Library (DPL) ,was ready to take the next step: enter Library Linx.

As stated on DPL’s website,

“Library Linx is a partnership between Deschutes County schools and Deschutes Public Library. It provides the opportunity for students and teachers to place holds on public library materials and have the materials delivered to their school. The materials are then checked out in the school’s media center by the media manager/specialist. It creates library users out of students who might not otherwise be able to visit a public library, and allows for teachers to have quick and easy access to materials that supplement what they have at school.”

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