Positive Use of Social Networking #28 – Raising awareness

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #28.

Teen dating violence is one of the issues explored through stage performance by the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. The actors visit a battered women’s shelter before beginning rehearsals as part of their research to understand some of the issues that surround dating violence.

I had the opportunity to interview the actors and the Director of Domestic Violence Services at United Family Services. The actors talked about their experiences with performing, and the domestic violence director talked about teen dating violence in general. I will post the podcasts on the YALSA podcast page ASAP to share with you the conversation.

Podcasts are social networking tools that can be used to open up dialogues and comments for the purposes of informing and learning from one another. While teens would still be able to listen to podcasts even if DOPA is passed, they might miss out on the opportunity of playing a role in the dialogue at the public or school library. When it comes to raising awareness of issues, that’s not a tool we should have to lose.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #27 – Communicating with parents and other stakeholders

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #27.

Blogs aren’t just for kids anymore. They can be an excellent way to share information with parents. One of my favorite examples of social networking software in action in a school environment is the use of blogging at Mabry Middle School in Marietta, Georgia. Every single teacher at the school has a blog. That includes the principal (who is the school webmaster!), the school nurse, the PTSA, the counselors, the media center, PE and intramurals, as well as all the language arts, math, social studies, music, art, science, and foreign language teachers. Sure, some of the blogs are more extensive than others, but every teacher posts at least once a week and categorizes his or her postings. So a parent can go to a teacher’s blog and either read the latest entries and/or select a category of interest, including topics like homework, announcements, quiz help, All State (Chorus) Info, and “Gettin’ down to earth science.”

Wikis can also be used to keep parents and community informed. When track season rolls around again, I’m betting that Deer Valley High School coaches will go back to updating their track wiki. Here’s what they have to say about why a wiki works for them: “Making our website a wiki makes it easier for us to keep it up-to-date. And a wiki is perfect for a track team since we have so many coaches working in the many track & field events. We can all up date when we feel like it.” The photo spreads are made up of images stored on Flickr.com. All around, a great use of social networking software!

If legislation like DOPA is passed, school staffs will lose a valuable method for keeping parents and other stakeholders informed and involved.

Positive Use of Social Networking #26 – ResultR


During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #26.


ResultR gives users the chance to create their own personalized search engine. Visitors to the site select which search tools they want to use, save the search engine, and either use it right away, add it to Firefox, or get the code for a search box to add to a web page. It was developed by two teens as a way to complete a homework assignment.


This mashup of search tools demonstrates many of the things discussed as a part of the positive uses of social networking blogs over the past 26 days. ResultR demonstrates how teens are using social networking technologies in order to learn, innovate, and complete school homework. It shows teens using social networking technologies as a way to develope ideas and to find people who can work on projects together. It shows teens using social networking technologies as a form of entrepreneurship.


ResultR is just one example of teenagers using social networking as a start in the business world. For example, at 15, Mariana Butler of the EmoGirl podcast was the first teenager to receive commercial sponsorship for a podcast. Other teens have developed competitors for sites like Flickr and YouTube.


Social networking doesn’t just connect teens to others, it also gives teens the chance to become a part of the real-world through business opportunities and ventures. What would happen if DOPA were passed and teens didn’t have these entrepreneurial possibilities?

Positive Use of Social Networking #25 – Freedom to Choose

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #25.

Social networking technologies often allow for people to express their own opinions. A teen can set up their own blog in less than five minutes, post a comment on a forums board, or share what materials they are reading through LibraryThing. Check out SLJs recent article and podcast on LibraryThing here.

People who read and contribute to blogs, forums boards, wikis, etc. are being given the choice to be exposed to information that they might not otherwise come across as readily. Is it not slightly ironic, that DOPA targets school and public libraries, which are places that historically protect the freedom to access information?

It is my opinion that there are many parallels between Banned Books and freedom in the digital world. Making connections between the two, as well as being familiar with sites such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation might help us understand why DOPA is not the beginning and is not going to be the end of legislation affecting the digital world. It might help us to want to inform the teens we work with who use these technolgies of what the bigger picture is and not just be reactive or hope it will go away.

I wonder if Teen Tech Week might be one of many places to continue the dialogue of freedoms in the digital world and why/how it is just as important as protecting our freedom to read books.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #24 – Learning by themselves

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #24.

Social networking technologies support young people’s active ability to learn on their own without having an education system imposed on them. Many mission statements of school and public libraries involve, empowering individuals. Helene Blowers, Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, has an excellent discussion on control and empowerment in this blog post from last month.

If DOPA would have passed in its current form, control would overwhelmingly outweigh the innate ability for teens to learn and create on their own through social networking.

Recent Library Student graduate, Jami Schwarzwalder’s podcast on: Meet the Millennials: Risk Takers and Rule Makers is an engaging listen as to how social networking tools influenced her life as a millennial and how they empowered her to actively learn on her own, and bring that knowledge to libraries.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Teen Tech Week Talking Tips

Teen Tech Week is coming soon.

Yes, March 4 – 10, 2007.

Are you ready to celebrate? Have you planned your ultra cool programs? Did you spread the word that TTW is coming?

Wait! you haven’t mentioned TTW to your teens yet!?! Now don’t panic, you have time, the sooner you talk about Teen Tech Week the better.

Did you know that there are so many ways that you can inform your teens that TTW will be a very special event @ your library?

Just go to the TTW wiki and share your talking tips or get some great ideas about talking up Teen Tech Week in your community.

Positive Use of Social Networking #23 – Innovation


Social networking breeds ideas and ideas breed innovation. Just look at the web tools that we now can use as a part of the social networking environment promoted on the web:

  • Newsvine is a place for people to post news stories they think are interesting and they can write their own articles on topics in the news.
  • PopURLs and Original Signal are sites that help users keep track of what’s new and interesting in the world of web 2.0.
  • Squidoo is a place where anyone can be an expert on a topic of interest.


These are all sites that promote social networking and I hazard to guess that they wouldn’t exist without the world of social networking to help promote the exchange of ideas and the ability to connect to people with similar interests


Teaching children and teens to be innovative thinkers is something that we as a society should want to promote. The passing of DOPA would make it more difficult to provide teens with some of the tools they could use to become innovative thinkers.

Positive Use of Social Networking #22 – Copyright


During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #22.


Several of the positive uses of social networking posts have hinted, or discussed straight out, the copyright implications of social networking for teens. Lots of what teens do as a part of their online social networking lives is to exchange content with each other. They might exchange content they produce themselves or content someone else created.


Because social networking is so intrinsically connected to content creation, giving teens opportunities to use social networking tools as an entree into discussions of copyright makes a lot of sense. Real-life situations in which teens exchange content makes the discussion of copyright more meaningful than when talking about the concept within an abstract context.


Talk to teens about:

  • Who owns YouTube videos? Anyone can embed a YouTube video into other pages, but does that mean the video is free for the taking and using whenever one wants and with whomever? Does the creator of the video own it? Does YouTube own it? Who is the owner?
  • Who owns Flickr photos? Are they available for anyone to use in their own documents? How does one tell? (BTW, there are Creative Commons licensed photos at
    Flickr and it’s possible to search for photos that are licensed this way.)
  • What about fanfiction? Is it legal to take characters developed by others and make changes to them in one’s own story? Can teens post their fanfiction on social networking sites and get advice on how to improve the writing?


The copyright landscape is going through big changes (and hast to change in order to make sense in the 21st century.) The model we’ve used for many years is not going to be the model that teens use throughout their whole lives. Social networking sites give teens the chance to think about why copyright exists, what makes sense in terms of the technology of the early 21st century as a way to promote content and to support one’s ownership of that content, and how they need to abide by copyright laws as they currently exist. The passing of DOPA would make these kinds of discussions, that are meaningful to teens in real-life ways, impossible.

Positive Use of Social Networking #21 – Personalization


During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #21.


One of the developmental assets outlined by the Search Institute in their 40 Developmental Assets is positive identity. In order for teens to grow up successfully they need to have opportunities to figure out who they are.


Personalization in social networking is seen in everything from creating a MySpace page to setting up an account at PageFlakes and creating a personalized home page. Using a tool like PageFlakes gives teens a chance to decide what content is most important to them. In PageFlakes teens can add RSS feeds, import their email, add YouTube videos, integrate their bookmarks, move content around, include Flickr photos, and give the page it’s own look and feel. Ultimately, PageFlakes becomes the web-based desktop for teens when they open up the browser.


One day a teen might walk into the library dressed one way and the next day the teen might walk into the library dressed another. That’s a way that teen tests out different identities. PageFlakes allows for that testing out by giving teens opportunities to change browser-based home pages and opportunities for deciding if their PageFlakes pages are available for others to see. Librarians and teens can talk about what types of content on PageFlakes might be shared with others and what might not. Teens can think about if they want just anyone to be able to see their interests as displayed on PageFlakes. The opportunities for thinking about what teens want others to know about them is a part of determining identity and PageFlakes allows for that.


Gaining a positive identity is important in order that teens grow up successfully. If DOPA were passed it would mean that teens would lose an opportunity to figure out who they are.