App of the Week: OKDOTHIS

OKDOTHIS LogoApp: OKDOTHIS
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS

The new photography app OKDOTHIS aims to be a different sort of image app. By its own terms it is “a Community that encourages growth and inspires us all to DO more” rather than a simple app. To emphasize that idea of community, the first step after you create an account in the app is to add friends. You can choose to find these friends through your device’s contacts, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram or you can instead search for people or accept some of the suggestions provided by the app.

Finding People ScreenshotOnce you have completed that step (or opted out of it), you are thrown right into the app. You will see a screen that says “Try this DO,” which offers a task posted by another user to inspire a specific type of photo. For example, as you can see below, the first suggested activity that I saw was to take a picture of my shoes. At this point, you can either scroll through photos taken by other users or click on the “Do This” button to take your own picture. When completing suggested tasks, you also have the option to use a photo that is already in your device’s image library.
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Reflections on the Future of Library Services for & with Teens Session at the ALA Annual Conference

by Adrienne L. Strock & Sandra Hughes-Hassell

The YALSA Future of Teens and Libraries taskforce led an interactive panel discussion at the ALA Annual Conference where we reflected on The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report. The session was hosted and moderated by Adrienne Strock, taskforce Chair. Taskforce panelists included Sandra Hughes-Hassell, report co-author; Jack Martin, K-Fai Steele, and Margaret Sullivan. Special guest Traci Slater-Rigaud, Director of the National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Awards kicked off the session by encouraging libraries to get involved in the awards and noted the similarities in our work, particularly the focus on youth development.

As a way to collectively reflect on the report’s significance, the panel highlighted specific content from the report in the areas of demographic shifts, technology, and connected learning. The panel began by examining the demographic shifts presented in the report as well as observable shifts in our library communities. We discussed the importance of engaging non-dominant youth in library settings and debated the library’s role in learning and closing the growing achievement gap. We then considered the importance of technology as a tool, the way in which technology is changing how society interacts and learns, HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, and geeking out) as a model for engagement, and the need for librarians to continue to keep up with technology as it relates to teen interests and needs. Lastly, we talked about the importance of connected learning, describing what it looks like, noting why it is so powerful and important in library spaces, and reflecting on how partnerships can leverage the strengths of connected learning for more powerful and meaningful growth opportunities for teens.

The main themes from the report that emerged in our conversation included the call for a paradigm shift in services to teens, the growing need for partnerships, and the importance of librarians embracing a facilitator, non-expert role in their work with teens. One specific aspect of the paradigm shift brought up by an attendee was shifting customer and staff expectations about noise. Panelists and audience participants shared excellent feedback that encouraged cultural shifts though catchy signage and designated noise times, educating staff and customers on new expectations while shifting their mindset about noise in the library, and getting staff and customers excited about the activities being introduced to teens by demoing them for staff and customers with opportunities for adults to partake in the fun and engaging learning opportunities.

Slides can be found on the taskforce’s ALA Connect page, and those unable to attend can still get involved!

  • If you haven’t already, check out the report!
  • Reflect, share, and talk to each other using #act4teens via Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, and your favorite social networks.
  • Dive into the actionable sections of the report. Start by following the recommendations (p. 25). Then dig into the questions and guide to local assessment and planning (p. 31) section.

Lastly, the taskforce would love to know what you think! Reflect by commenting on this post. Tell us what excites and frightens you about the report. Share what areas of the report you find the easiest and most challenging to implement locally. Let us know what tools and resources you would like YALSA to provide.

21c Library Takes the 21st Century by Storm

21cOpening

What better way to launch the library of the future than with Star Wars characters and a robot ribbon-cutter at the opening ceremony?

The aptly named 21st century Library recently made its grand debut in Colorado Springs on June 23rd. Nicknamed the “library of the future”, this contemporary athenaeum boasts sewing machines, 3D printers, and sophisticated computers. Not to disregard the written word, 21c Library has also laid claim to hundreds of fresh new books for curious minds—many more than the closed Briargate branch 21c was upgraded from. Having personally been inside the spacious new building, I can attest to the glowing modernization.

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YALSA Policy Update from Annual 2014

Greetings, all! For those of you who traveled to Annual, I’m hoping you’ve recovered from the high temperatures, the hot winds, the pervasive smoke, and the ding-ding-ding of casino machines. If you didn’t travel to Las Vegas, just remember the YA Symposium is coming up in November, and Austin is not a desert, presents more opportunities to mingle with colleagues passionate about youth services, and doesn’t require as much walking around in a convention center. Plus, migas!

I wanted to call your attention to a couple of significant policies that will impact your work as committee members and leaders. At Annual 2014, the Board confirmed an update to the YALSA Social Media Policy, and adopted an Ethical Behavior Policy which sets expectations for YALSA committee members and leaders, as well as providing information about what those leaders and members can expect from YALSA. Both documents recognize the increasing impact social media has on both professional identity and networking, and helps set standards which ensure the integrity and enjoyment of all the work both members and YALSA perform. Continue reading

Adventures in Korea

As I was sitting in the Philadelphia airport, waiting to fly home from Midwinter 2014, I checked my email to find something rather startling: an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a symposium on library services for children and teens sponsored by the National Library for Children and Young Adults (NLCY) in South Korea. According to the email, my book Young Adults Deserve the Best: YALSA’s Competencies in Action had been translated into Korean and distributed to libraries in Korea, and they wanted me to come to the symposium and share my “experience and expertise in youth library services”—all expenses paid!  Continue reading

Level Up Your Leadership Skills: Everybody Leads

If you’re working with teens in a library – any kind of library — you should be a leader. Being a leader doesn’t have to mean you’re the boss – or that you ever want to be the boss, but it takes intentionality and may mean thinking about your role in serving teens a bit differently.

Leaders see talent: Did you just see a colleague do a great job of helping a teen get a new library card? Make sure to let him know — and if it was really fabulous, maybe you should let his boss know, too? Do you have a colleague who made a really good point in a staff meeting — make sure you let her know! If you see a library staff member that’s a natural with teens, how can you involve them in your work?

Leaders share the credit: When your program was successful, publicly thank your colleagues who helped make it possible by setting up the chairs, cleaning up the rug and issuing all the library cards.

Leaders have goals: So much of public service is reactive — you never know what question or situation will present itself. Compensate for that by planning and goal-setting for other parts of your work– identifying your goals and making a plan for working with schools this fall, for example, or your goals for your precious two hours of off-desk time tomorrow.

Leaders ask around: What’s your first thought when faced with a challenge or something you don’t know how to do? Before asking your supervisor, talk with your colleagues– at your library or other libraries — what are they doing? Have they faced this before? What advice to they have for you? A colleague in a school who had recently gone to a 1:1 mobile device program told me their philosophy in helping kids with their devices is now: “Ask three, then ask me,” meaning kids should talk to each other to problem-solve — if they’ve asked three peers and still nobody knows, then they can ask the teacher (By the way, that colleague said it was much harder for the teachers to follow the same rule than it was for the students).

Other resources that may be of interest about leadership and management include

Sarah Flower’s YALSA blog series from 2013, “What Your Manager Wishes You Knew,” and YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth.

Level Up Your Leadership Skills will be a regular feature on the YALSA blog, designed to provide practical support for library staff in strengthening existing leadership skills. In what other ways are you leading in your library? In what areas do you need more resources?

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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