My Own Cafe

What if a site like MySpace was hosted by a non-profit library system, supervised by adults and served to promote libraries and literacy, with Internet ethics and safety thrown in for good measure? The Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Library System’s LSTA grant-funded MyOwnCafe does exactly that, providing a virtual space library card carrying teens in southeastern MA to connect with local bands, programs, and people through moderated forums.

Did I mention teen developmental needs and assets? MyOwnCafe is a mix of creative expression, boundaries and limits, responsibility, meaningful participation, reading for pleasure, socialization, homework support and more.

Librarian Aaron Schmidt posted a fantastic interview with MyOwnCafe administrators Vickie Beene-Beavers and Kathy Lussier at calling it “a great example of libraries providing an online community for its young patrons without being too librarianish,” and going on to say “I think My Own Cafe is the best library site for teens around.”

Would DOPA block e-rate funded libraries in this region from participating? MyOwnCafe offers homework support through access to library materials, databases, and 24/7 reference but it could be viewed unfavorably as a social networking website. MyOwnCafe is an excellent example of libraries positively using social networking sites that you can share with your senators to demonstrate the realm of possiblity–and what opportunities we might be missing out on, if our powers to host, use and instruct with such web applications are pulled out from under us by DOPA.

Teen Tech Week

» “>Tweet

As a member of the Teen Tech Week Task Force, I will give you updates on how this new initiative will encourage not only the teens in your schools and libraries but you, the librarians who want to know what you can do to encourage literacy with the new and growing technology.
We will give you the resources that you need for the debut of TTW in March of 2007.


I’ve been a fan of Digg for awhile. First, I started with the podcast – Diggnation – and then I started paying attention to the website.

The premise of Digg is that users post links to interesting stories/content on a variety of topics – technology (which is what the site started with,) gaming, videos, entertainment, world news, and so on. Then, other visitors to the site get to “digg” stories. When digging, the user votes for a story. The more diggs a story gets the more popular it is and the more popular it is the more likely it is to show up on the front page of the site.

More and more I’m thinking about how the technology behind Digg could be used for library catalogs and websites. Imagine if readers, viewers, listeners could vote for favorite titles in the library catalog. Those titles that were most popular would show up on the main page of the catalog as a form of reader’s advisory. Readers, listeners, and viewers would want their favorite authors, musicians, etc. to be listed close to the the top so they would return to the library catalog and site in order to make sure favorites were given their due.

This could work for databases too. When a reader finds an article of interest she could post it and then others could digg it.

The possibilities are pretty interesting to think about. Here’s the question – how do we make it happen?

Who Owns What?

We’ve been talking a lot on the blog about how librarians can educate teens to use social networking sites safely and smartly! We have an important role to play.

There’s some other education we need to do and that’s about who owns content uploaded to sites like You Tube and My Space.

In the past few weeks both sites have come under fire for their terms of service. The terms of service on YouTube seem to say that the site has the right to sell the content users upload.

Singer Songwriter Billy Bragg was concerned with My Space’s terms of service which also seem to give the site ownership over content posted by users.

You Tube, My Space, and other social networking sites terms of service aren’t necessarily bad, (It really takes a lawyer to make complete sense out of them.) but it’s important that teens know about the terms of service on the sites they use. And, don’t forget, teens also need to know about Creative Commons and how to license the content that they create for sharing, mashing, and/or non-commercial (or commercial) use.

Sharing stories under the stars

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

I had the pleasure of dining this week with Michael Stephens and Michael Casey, along with other staff from my library, including, Helene Blowers, the tech goddess that organized their visit. I mention dinner not because I learned that Michael ordered stacked brie and tomatoes and scallops with lettuce on the side (wait until the tabloids get a hold of that one!) but because we shared our stories. Our stories about technology and how we use it to create and redefine relationships (idea shared: ask people to bring their laptops or provide computers to have a digital scrapbooking get together), what libraries are considered innovators (Michael S. mentioned Cherry Hill Public Library in New Jersey for ripping their entire music collection into iTunes), and what we can do as a large library system to embrace Library 2.0. (check out:

What resonated most about Library 2.0 to me is it’s relationship to DOPA and the affect it will have on the culture that many of us try to create for teens in our libraries. It’s not all about having the coolest and biggest technology available, but the relationships that are possible as a result of these technologies. It’s about our stories and their stories and how developmental needs are fostered through what Library 2.0 allows.

Library 2.0 / Developmental assets:
a culture of trust / positive values
self correcting / empowerment
participation and play / constructive use of time
transparency/boundaries and expectations
collaboration / support

Those are only a few. There’s so many more.

A story to share-we had a drop-in podcasting session at our library yesterday. The teens wanted to upload their recording to their MySpace page. I helped them and got to know them a bit more and they agreed to have their recordings on our library site as well. What are your stories with social networking? The discussion board on the YALSA wiki is a great place to share-because that’s what DOPA is really going to effect-and how dare it.

By the way, Michael S., if you’re reading this-you owe me a round (or two) of DDR.

DOPA Information & Resources

YALSA’s Legislation, Technology and Web Advisory Committees have created the following resources for librarians and library workers:

1. DOPA Information Packet
2. Legislative Advocacy Guide
3. Teens & Social Networking in School & Public Libraries Toolkit

Please use these resources to help educate your community members about positive uses of social networking technologies and to take some grass roots action against DOPA. They are all available for free as .pdf files from here.

-Posted by Beth Yoke

6 Steps to Save Your Library from DOPA

1. Contact your Senator before Sept. 5th to:
a. Tell him/her your opinion of DOPA (see YALSA’s Legislative
Advocacy Guide for quick tips on contacting your Senator).
b. Educate him/her about the positive uses of Social Networking
Sites (use the information in YALSA’s Toolkit on Teens &

Social Networking in School & Public Libraries).
To find out who our Senator is & what number to call, go here.
To email your Senator, go here.

2. Sign the online petition opposing DOPA at Save Your Space

3. Host an information session at your library about DOPA and social networking sites (see YALSA’s Toolkit on Teens & Social Networking in School & Public Libraries for tips and ideas).

4. Tell YALSA how you’re using social networking technologies at your library. Go here From there you can add a link to your library’s MySpace space as well as join in on the discussion about how you’re using social networking technologies in your library.

5. Invite your Senator to your library while they’re home from DC between August 7th and September 4th.
a. Have teens on hand to demonstrate productive ways they use

social networking technologies
b. Provide the Senator with a photo-op (e.g. giving a summer
reading award to a teen or reading a story to kids)
c. Give the Senator information about social networking sites and show him/her what your library is already doing to keep
children and teens safe online.
6. Personalize and send the follwing sample letter to the editor to your local newspaper, and encourage your library patrons to do the same.

Sample Letter to the Editor
(please feel free to make additions or changes so that it better fits any particular messages you want to get across)

Librarians care deeply about children and teens and are concerned about their safety online and in our community. While Congress’ effort to make children and teens more safe online is admirable, the proposed Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) that is currently being debated by our nation’s legislators, will actually do little to make our kids safer. What it will do is block access to critical Internet resources and communication tools in schools and libraries that our kids need to learn how to use in order to be successful in college and the workplace. It also takes control away from communities like ours, and leaves the decision making about what our children can access on the Internet to the politicians in Washington DC.

DOPA seeks to further limit kids’ access to online resources at school and in libraries. That means it would prevent librarians and teachers from instructing students and their parents about how to use all kinds of Web applications safely and effectively. Because it is linked to federal funding, DOPA also hurts most those kids served by schools and libraries in low-income communities.

DOPA would restrict online support groups, email programs through which family members can communicate with each other, and educational tools used to provide distance education, squashing kids’ first attempts at becoming acquainted with applications that will soon be essential workplace tools. Just one example of what could be lost in a rush to legislate is a recent online field trip to Carlsbad Caverns in N.M., in which more than 10 million students participated and First Lady Laura Bush took part.

Perhaps the most troubling part of DOPA is the false sense of security it gives parents who are seeking solutions to the problem of online predators. Like dangers to kids in the real world, dangers on the Internet are not easily overcome. Teaching young people to practice safe behaviors and guard their privacy online the same way they would in public is critical if we want to protect them.

Please join me in urging Congress to make a real commitment to kids’ safety by abandoning bad legislation like DOPA and funding our libraries and schools adequately so they have the resources they need to empower our community’s kids to stay safe on the Internet.

[insert your name here]

Thanks Larry Magid

Judy Nelson discovered an article on the CBS News site by Larry Magid about why DOPA is not a good idea. Magid has been writing about safety on the Internet for many years and he was one of the first non-librarian/teacher adults I knew of who was speaking out about how parents need to help their children and teens be safe online.

Thanks Larry! I hope more people follow in your footsteps.

ALA Nominations…again

The ALA Nominations Committee is looking for a few good members to run for Council in the next ALA election. Personally, I would like to see more YALSA members forward their names for consideration. YALSA is growing and we need greater representation at the Association-wide level…without it our message and our values won’t be heard. Please contact me ASAP if you are interested –

C. Allen Nichols
YALSA Board Member
ALA Nominations Committee