Engaging Youth On Their Own Terms: IM and Gaming in Libraries

SirsiDynix Web Seminar
Tuesday, October 10, 8am Pacific Time

“Attempting to mold young library users into miniature librarians is an unfair and often futile goal. To meet their needs and ensure our institutions are supported in the future, we must listen to them! Join Aaron Schmidt and Sarah Houghton as they discuss ways to serve teens on their own turf, by creating a teen-friendly environment in your physical library and in your library’s eBranch, and by providing the resources and services teens want, when and where they want them. Other topics discusses will be MySpace, iPods, and weblogs.”

Sarah and Aaron are excellent-don’t miss this one if you don’t have to but SirsiDynix’s seminar’s are recorded if you’re not able to make this one live.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Senate Hearing

Last Tuesday, there was a Senate Committee Hearing on “Online Child Pornography,” through the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Testimonies of those at the hearing are available here.

Those testifying were the CEO from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Assistant Attorney General from the U.S. Department of Justice, a Sheriff from Virginia, and an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics from UNC-Chapel Hill.

There were some suggestions in their testimonies related to libraries and online content such as:

“A recommendation for family intervention in the prevention of child sexual exploitation would include mandates that federally funded public libraries provide one-on-one tutoring and assistance for any person requesting instruction on how to implement parental controls on their home computers, as well as information regarding filtering, blocking, and tracking software.”

“Pursue efforts to insure that taxpayer dollars are never used to fund
Internet access without appropriate transactional logging to allow the
location of individuals that use that access in the exploitation of
children. How can we in good conscience demand that corporate Internet service providers log transactions if our own government, be it municipal, state, federal, or educational institutions fail to do the same”

“Child pornography is distributed over the Internet in a variety of ways, including: online groups or communities, file servers, Internet Relay Chat, e-mail, peer-to-peer networks, and commercial web sites. The Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes offenses involving each of these technologies.”

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Reading Scores drop in Sixth Grade – How Can Libraries Help?

In New York State, the Department of Education just reported that reading scores drop across the state as students enter middle school.

The New York Times articles quotes the New York education commisioner, Richard P. Mills:

“The overall pattern is disturbing,” Mr. Mills said at a news conference in Albany. “Literacy is the problem. This pattern is not inevitable. This pattern has to change. All youngsters have to emerge from middle school ready for high school. We still have a lot of work to do.” He added: “We have to do something different. We have to change our tactics, our curriculum, our approach.”

Something different? How about encouraging children and teens to Read for the Fun of It® – not just for tests and scores, but to learn about subjects that they’re interested in and to explore new worlds and adventures. As librarians, we know that literacy improves when teens read for pleasure on a regular basis – heck, it’s one of the 40 developmental assets for adolescents. While teachers and administrators are bound by the No Child Left Behind Act and the increased emphasis on tests, librarians have an opportunity to reach out to kids that are overwhelmed by middle school and the pressures that come along with it.

While getting ready for Teen Read Week™, look up what’s happening with your state or school district’s reading scores. Discussing how the school or public library can help develop teens’ lifelong literacy skills with teachers and administrators can be a valuable promotion.

Get (Physically) Active at Your Library for Teen Read Week!

Still looking for Teen Read Week ideas? Physical activity is only one way to active @ your library, and if you’re looking for program ideas, I found MetLife Foundation/ Libraries for the Future project Get Real, Get Fit! to be a great resource. Thanks to library school student Debora Duerksen (who sent me an email inquiring why ALA didn’t have more information about the grant, thus planting the idea for this post) and to Hali Brindel and Marilyn Ratner at LFF for providing data.

Targeted at teens and their parents, Get Real, Get Fit! was announced at the end of 2004, awarded in 2005 and implemented at 41 libraries. The challenge: create an intergenerational dialogue on the benefits of fitness and healthy eating through four or more programs. The program is also an opportunity for partnerships with community organizations, and for marketing the library to a wider audience. Latest data from the Center for Disease Control’s study Prevalance of Overweight Children and Adolescents: United States, 2003-2004 reports that 17% of adolescents age 12-19 are overweight, and several physicians have predicted that today’s adolescents will be the first generation to have lowered life expectancy than their parents, due to poor nutrition and unhealthy, inactive lifestyles.

Based on the tremendous success of the program, LFF will be offering Fit for
Life–also funded by MetLife, this year. Fit for Life, the next phase of the program, focuses on urban library systems. While teens will again be the target audience, Fit for Life libraries will use this population to access the entire family. Twelve systems will receive grants of $5,000 to $20,000; winners will be announced in early October. Library systems will partner with LFF in helping stimulate similar programming throughout the library community on the state, regional and national levels.

You can replicate these model programs in your library’s offerings. Three of the participants won a NCLIS Health Information Awards in 2006.

One key component of Get Real, Get Fit! was the incorporation of the health-related episode of In the Mix, the award-winning topical TV series for teens on PBS. “Fit for Life… Eat Smart and Exercise” is available from PBS for $69.95 and includes a discussion guide and public performance license. During the grant, “Fit for Life” was used as a springboard for and intergenerational discussion about teen lifestyle issues and strategies for forming healthy habits.

Jeanne Farnworth, at the Portneuf District Library, Chubbuck (ID), held a showing of Napolean Dynamite, precluded by a rousing game of kick ball. Over 50 teens attended and stayed to watch the show. “I’m also really conscious of what I serve for snacks at teen events,” says Jeanne. “They eat the healthy stuff just as quickly as the junk food.” The Napolean Dynomite event was just an offshoot of the Get Real, Get Fit project. Jeanne reports that four Get Real, Get Fit events were held, featuring a 1 mile fitness walk, fitness stations, sports samplers and information stations. Many community businesses partnered with the library to provide the events. Each teen that participated got a free pedometer, t-shirt, dental health kit, water bottle and more. Jeanne says “We are planning another fitness event during Teen Read Week- it will be Get Active, Get Healthy @ the Portneuf District Library (featuring similar stations, info booths and a power walk -weather permitting). During that week, are also doing a Get Active Outside w/Frisbee golf,Get Active w/Art event, Get Active w/Games and Get Active w/CSI at the Portnef District Library.”

Sarah Kaufman at Tempe (AZ) Public Library offered four Sunday afternoons health festivals featuring 14-18 booths that offered fitness information, activities and games. Prizes including pedometers, jump ropes and exercise equipment and Dance, Dance Revolution. Physical activities included fitness drills, hula-hoop, hackey sack, situp/pushup contests, and exercising games with yoga and Pilates.

Joyce Pernicone at the North Miami (FL) Public Library reports that “Staying Fit With the Miami Heat Dancers” demonstrated routines while “Hip Hop Aerobics” explained about healthy heart exercises.

Bill Landau at the East Flagstaff (AZ) Community Library, says “Our hiking club and discussion group went very well… Some of the trails we visited were just steps from our door and many of the participants had lived her for years and didn’t even know those trails were there…We drew new people to our library who weren’t even aware there was a Branch library.” A hiking program at Olive Hill (KY) Public Library resulted in computer donations! A park naturalist at Carter Caves State Resort Park led a hike and cave tour; librarian Vickie Rose reports that fitness computer programs will be implemented at both the library and Carter Caves State Park so citizens can assess and monitor fitness goals from either location. Bill says that “the best thing that came from the whole Get Real, Get Fit grant was a core group of teens that have become the Teen Council. Older teens leave and younger teens move in, but it really helped establish this group for us. We had lots of adults who were really jealous of the teen hikes and have asked that we do some for adults who don’t have teens. So we will be scheduling some of these events in the near future.”

Other program ideas from Get Real, Get Fit!:

* Cooking and fitness demonstrations
* Dance, Dance Revolution
* Discussions with health and fitness experts

* Exercise sessions led by fitness experts
* Health festivals
* Hikes
* Hip hop dancing
* Information sessions
* Kick boxing

* Nature walks
* Salsa dancing
* Yoga

If the idea of getting active by playing video games intrigues you, check out the summer issue of YALS, featuring an article by myself and Alissa Lauzon on Dance Dance Revoution at the library.

The YALSA YALSA Teen Read Week web site has lots of other ideas for Getting Physical @ the Library –check it out!

What do your teens want?

What are some ways you find out and work with your teens to build a library collection they want?

My supervisor organized a meeting with the library’s collection development team to meet face to face with a group of teen library users. We spent an hour talking about what they like (music got the nod but could use more underground-especially from this recommended site), what they want to see more of (adult books and with more controversial themes, foreign films, political comics, contemporary biographies, car and computer magazines, video game soundtracks, anime soundtracks) and what they didn’t even know existed (new fiction, new movies, Cliff Notes).

These teens created lists of titles after the meeting and were encouraged to talk with their friends and get their feedback on the collection. Surveys were created and made available online to get teen input as well (albeit-more passive, but some responded they were interested in being part of a teen driven focus group-and a few agreed but only if paid).

Youth participation is so fundamental to this process. Aside from just exchanging titles and general feedback, listening to their experiences (never finding new movies on the shelf because they are always on hold and not knowing things can be held, buying books instead of wanting to wait for the ordering and processing time, wanting more representation for various religions in materials and not finding them) means we’ve got some work to do. Today was a great start.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Writely, Writeboard, Google Notebook, etc.

There are lots of interesting tools these days that writers/researchers can use instead of (or in conjunction with) traditional word processing. Writely is a web-based word processing tool that allows writers to create, save, and edit documents entirely on the web. Writeboard takes the idea of using a white board to a web-based environment. And, Google Notebook is a tool you can download to a computer and use to take notes while surfing the web, performing research, etc.

Each of these expands and extends the ways in which teens interact with text. They make it possible to write papers, collaborate with others, and take notes in a web-based environment. And, they make it easier to share information and files between writers, and readers.

Anyone working with teens without easy access to word processing tools at home (but do have Internet access at home) should let the teens know about these tools. Instead of going out and hunting down Word at a friends house or public or school library, a teen can go to Writely, login (after setting up an account,) start a new file or open a file that’s already saved.

One of my favorite features in Writely is the ability to send invitations to others to view and edit a document that’s been created. That means teens working on writing projects can all use Writely to collaborate. They can also see revisions to the document. And, an RSS feed is available so that everyone involved will know when a change to the document takes place.

Some might wonder why using Writely is different or better than using a wiki for collaboration. I’d say it’s different. With a wiki you are creating an online publication. With Writely it’s a more traditional form of publication you are creating. While you can publish on Writely it seems to be more of a write and print out kind of tool What do others think about that?

Those are just some of the features of Writely, and it’s not the only tool of its kind, however, it’s one librarians should know about in order to help teens access writing resources and to promote collaboration.

ALA Launches Teen Contest

To go along with the “Get Active” them of Teen Read Week, ALA’s Washington Office is challenging teens to create a theme and design a logo for the 2007 National Library Legislative Day. The teen with the winning logo wins a trip to Washington DC for two. To find out more, go here. Teens ages 12-18 are eligible, and the deadline to participate is Oct. 29th.

What is National Library Legislative Day? It’s a two-day event in which people who care about libraries participate virtually or face to face by taking part in advocacy training sessions, interacting with Capitol Hill insiders, and visiting congressional member offices to ask Congress to pass legislation that supports libraries. In 2007 it will be held May 2-3. Find out more about this event here.

-Beth Yoke

Reminder: tell us about your tech programs

If you have recently hosted a successful technology-oriented program for the teens in your community, and would like to have information about it published in YALSA’s upcoming book Get Connected: 50 Tech Programs for Teens, please fill out and return the survey by no later than Sept. 30. You can access the survey here
(scroll to the bottom of the page).

Please send your surveys via email to the book’s editor, RoseMary Honnold, at rhonnold@yahoo.com. Be sure to put “Teen Tech Program” in the subject heading. The goal is to publish the book in 2007 as part of YALSA’s 50th anniversary celebration. We’re looking for teen programs that center around cutting edge technologies. The programs can be ones for recreation or education, and can be a one time event, or an on-going initiative. Thank you!
-Beth Yoke

Online Advocacy Course

Don Latham posted the following on YALSA-L

Judy Nelson asked the YALSA Legislation Committee (of which I am the current chair) if some of us could try out the online course “Messaging and Talking with Congress” (see Beth Yoke’s message below mine for the link to more information about the course).

I took the course a couple of days ago, and I thought I’d share my comments with the list, as many of you may who are interested in advocacy may want to take the course as well. Remember, right now it’s FREE–a great bargain!

Here were my comments to Judy on the course:


I wanted to let you know that I completed this online course this afternoon, and I’d give it pretty high marks. A few comments/observations:

1. I worked straight through the 3 modules and (brief) final exam. It took me about 75 minutes altogether. However, you can complete the course at your own pace, which I think is a plus.

2. The material is useful. It’s quite readable, conversational in tone, and very practically oriented–all pluses.

3. As would be expected, the material is focused on library advocacy with legislators, not specifically on youth services in libraries. However, I think the advice can easily be applied to specific issues related to teens and libraries.

4. The interactive elements are nice–self-quizzes, downloadable worksheets and handouts. I didn’t print out every page of every module, but I tried a couple and they seemed to print just fine. Some people might want to print out the whole course.

Overall, I think this is an excellent value at no charge. I think YALSA can recommend this resource without reservation.


At least one other member of the Legislation Committee is taking the course–Christy Mulligan. Christy may have some comments she’d like to add at some point.

Thanks. I hope many of you will take advantage of this great opportunity.


Don Latham

College of Information

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL 32306-2100



ALA’s Washington Office has just announced a free online course on legislative advocacy. You can read about the details here:


“Messaging and Talking with Congress” guides users through the process of developing messages, teaches users to communicate effectively with Members of Congress and other elected officials, and offers strategies on building lasting relationships with Congressional staff. Users may navigate the course at their own pace and download and print helpful worksheets.

Beth Yoke

Executive Director

Young Adult Library Services Association,

fastest growing division of the American Library Association

50 E. Huron St.

Chicago, IL 60611

1 (800) 545-2433 x4391



Register for Teen Read Week!


Celebrate Oct. 15-21, 2006

In this time of DOPA this seems like a perfect course. Don’t forget to pass the word on to colleagues who might also benefit by this course.