Teen Tuesdays

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18th Months ago the community of Bon Air Regional Libarary in Louisville, experienced a radical change in demographics. Now every afternoon they have dozens of teens at their library, teens they didn’t know how to serve.

So Geneva Huttenlocher took the incentive and started a series of programs held every Tuesday afternoon. She pooled on the resources of the other staff members and on members of the community bringing in Police Officers, Chefs, Artists, and more. They worked with the local school to start a basketball tournament. The librarians at the library took risks and developed a rapport with the teens that helped to lessen problems at the library, but also serve as role models.

This library is an inspiration, and as stated at their presentation at the Kentucky Library Association “they took a bad situation and turned it into a wonderful opportunity”

Community inspiration

I met this evening with the owner of a local bookstore who frequently tells me the story of not really being a reader growing up but was inspired by a teacher to read and opened up his own bookstore, moved over 600 miles to call it home, and does amazing outreach with the community. He goes by the name of Jaz. Next week, he’ll be accompanying me to the Freedom Reads! bookclub at Jail-North.
If anyone can inspire these young men at Jail-North in this community, Jaz can.

I am reminded of a recent conversation with Amy Cheney, librarian and founder of Write to Read, who encouraged me to give these young men (16-17 year olds) the best that I can give them.

I’ll keep you posted. Feel free to share your own outreach stories with incarcerated youth.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Virtual Reality Worlds = Serious Addiction Problems?

If you’re involved in any way with teens using the Internet, you probably will want to take a look at this new survey conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project on the future of the Internet in 2020. 742 respondents were asked to agree or disagree with a set of eight scenarios. Top leaders, activists and commentators were chosen to participate in this web-based survey.

While each of the eight scenarios could impact the next generation, the one about virtual reality peeked my interest. Participants were asked to respond to whether vr will lead to more productivity or serious addiction problems.

The respondents reactions were interesting-especially on p.55 about concerns toward youth culture and vr:

“take a close look at finding ways to provide guidance to young
people as they create their alternate, online personalities.”


“Addiction to chat rooms and online gaming worlds is already emerging as an issue. Recent research has highlighted for example, how teenagers’ ability to learn during school hours is being impacted by a lack of sleep – caused by late-night SMS/chat sessions. There is a real risk that some people will become ‘lost’ to virtual worlds.”

Discussions of what vr even is, and comparisons to books, television, and film are also made. A KidZone/Teachers guide regarding the future and history of information sharing can be found here.

What do we think of these predictions? Should we be concerned?

Here are two other recent articles on the addiction of video games. From Business Week Online: It’s Addictive! Or is It? and a preview from the New Scientist; Hooked, Why Your Brain is Primed for Addiction.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Privacy – Who Needs It? Teens That’s Who

There’s an interesting article in Newsweek titled My Turn Online: Leave Kids Alone on the Web. The author focuses on the topic of privacy and why everyone needs opportunities for private moments and actions – including actions on the web. While I know librarians are working hard to promote social networking, in my experience we tend to focus on pointing out to parents how important it is to be aware of what a teen is doing online and even creating My Space spaces in order to find out what teens are doing within that social network.

This article takes a little bit different perspective and highlights the importance of parent awareness and involvement, but also emphasizes the importance of giving teens the opportunity to be private about their lives. The author does a good job explaining why privacy is important but doesn’t go so far as to say let your teen run wild on the Internet.

This article is worth adding to the collection of materials libraries are putting together in order to support teen use of social networking and articulate why DOPA is not an answer to teen safety online.

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!