Positive Use of Social Networking #3 – Digg

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers will post ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #3.

OK, I’ve blogged about Digg before but I wanted to change the focus a little bit from my previous post. Digg is a web site on which users can link to content they think is interesting and then other site users “digg” the content. The more “diggs” someone else’s add gets, the better chance that info. has of being listed on the Digg main page. The most popular content appears on the main page of the site.

Digg started out as a site devoted to technology. However, recently the site expanded its focus and now includes world news, science, business, and entertainment. Imagine a group of teens reading the science stories on Digg and talking with each other about those they think should rise to the top. The teens might come up with a set of criteria in order to make front-page decisions. They might debate the value of one story over another. They might find out something new about science, world news, or of course entertainment.

If DOPA is passed sites like Digg won’t be available in schools and public libraries. That means opportunities to evaluate content and articulate ideas will be minimized.

Sock Monkey Goes to Jail

No, really, he does. But. . .he also comes back.

Remember the irresistable Audrey Tautou in the movie Amelie? Remember the scenes where she takes her father’s garden gnome and sends it on a trip around the world (and has photos to prove it)? At my library, Sock Monkey has been our garden gnome this week and today he did indeed visit jail.

Sock Monkey is the star of a graphic novel series and a library ambassador. I cannot pretend that I have known Sock Monkey before this week as my supervisor had to patiently explain him to me. Though I can say he is like the unexpected uncle that visits at your house and is actually okay to have around for awhile. He can visit your library too and arrive in his own travel box with disposable camera where he practically comes to life when starring in his own photoshoot. His adventures are then posted to the Dark Horse Library page.

How do teens take to him? My supervisor and teens filmed Sock Monkey AND his groupies (bearing a curious likeness yet clearly bold originality) dancing to some of his favorite music. And his jail visit for the bookclub? The male teens really liked him. They liked the music and the dancing and the tactileness of him. He is cool-and not as in a sing-a-long way for teens. The graphics, the music, and the monkey himself has an attitude and a side to him that is a bit more devilish than your average stuffed role model for kids. He’s definitely got it going on-as you can see here, expressing himself in the podcast booth.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

YALSA Student Interest Group

One fourth of YALSA members are library science students or new librarians. I am proud to be one of them. Last Feburary on top of my SLIS classes I signed up for a YALSA class, and there I was able to meet librarians from all of the United States. After the class ended I was invited to blog on the YALSA blog, and got involved in YALSA’s committees. The best experience I had was volunteering to represent YALSA for an hour at a conference I was already attending.

Getting involved while still in school was was a great way to become a professional, and now YALSA wants to do the same for you. Do you have a hobby or a special skill that relates to new technology, or teen culture? Have you worked with teens and young adults whether college freshman or a sixth grade boy/girl scout troupe? While in library school you should explore what area of librarianship that interests you, but also gain experience by volunteering when possible.

If you would like to learn more about being a professional librarian, connect with future colleagues, or get information pertinent to students, consider participating in the Student Interest Group. You must be a member of YALSA to serve on committees and access archives of web casts interviews with professionals.

The first web cast we will have is open to all students and new librarians. Join us Sunday October 29th at 6pm EST with Lori Bell of the Alliance Library System and Second Life Library. This innovative individual will be available to talk with participants about getting involved when you have little experience. Details about accessing this presentation will be provided later. Leave a comment if you are interested.

Please stay tuned and give us feedback about anything you would like to see offered from this group. I am just one, and it is up to you to make this group a success.

I hope to see you in the future at a conference or online. In the mean time take some time to explore the social software featured on the YALSA blog for the next month. Maybe start a professional blog and write your own comments on it.

Positive Use of Social Networking #2 – Library Thing

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers will post ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #2.

Library Thing is all about building community around reading. Readers “catalog” books and tag them using terms and phrases that relate to themes as well as to the thoughts and feelings that a particular title brings to a reader. Teens can catalog the books in their own libraries or they could create personal Library Thing entries of anything that they read.(Books they borrow from friends, the library, etc.) By cataloging their reading in Library Thing teens get to articulate their thoughts and feelings. It’s a great opportunity to for teens to express themselves simply through single words and short phrases.

Cataloging content is only one of the amazing parts of Library Thing. Anyone who visits the site can learn about titles in a particular genre, with a particular theme, with a certain type of character, and so on. It’s a great tool to use when creating “more like this” lists and to connect with readers with similar interests. A teen in one library might discover someone in another community who has similar reading interests. The two could exchange interesting titles through the Library Thing catalog.

The tag clouds on Library Thing provide interesting visuals of popular authors and themes. Librarians might challenge teens to have an impact on the tag clouds by adding titles by authors or on themes they like. Teen Advisory Groups could work together on adding titles and challenge each other to expand and change the Library Thing tag clouds.

If DOPA passes sites like Library Thing won’t be available to teens in school and public libraries. That means librarians won’t be able to work with teens as effectively to help them describe their thoughts and feelings related to reading. And a great opportunity to build reader community will be lost.

Positive Use of Social Networking #1 – del.icio.us

Over the next 30 days a small group of YALSA bloggers will post ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #1.

del.icio.us is a great tool for collecting and publishing resource lists. In a public and school library teens can use deli.cio.us to collect reviews of materials that should be purchased for the library, bookmark and annotate resources that support classroom projects, and collaborate on collecting resources on topics of interest from music to web design and from favorite authors to craft how-to tips.

If teens are interested in using deli.cio.us as a information/resource gathering tool they could setup a joint account. (This would allow the teens to collect resources together in one deli.cio.us area.) Then, wherever the teens are, if they find a resource that fits their deli.cio.us focus they can quickly and easily login to their joint account, add the link, annotate the link, and off they go. deli.cio.us even has RSS feeds so that others who are collecting resources on the same topic in the same deli.cio.us space will know something new has been added.

The TWIT (This Week in Tech) podcast uses del.icio.us to collect news stories during the week. Each person who will be on TWIT has access to the del.icio.us account and can add and read the stories that might be discussed on the week’s episode. Just like these podcasters, teens can collaborate on information gathering and sharing with this social networking tool.

If DOPA is passed many teens will no longer have the opportunity to use del.icio.us in a library or school setting – where they could learn how to use the tool safely and effectively.

Teen Tech Week 2007: Are you ready to podcast?

In preparation for Teen Tech Week March 4-10, 2007, we would like to take away any trepidation that teen librarians and educators may have about generating a podcast. There are many web sites that will assist with the process, but some of them are so intimidating. Fear no more, one visit to the Teen Tech Week wiki resource page and you will get inspired.

The wiki is chock full of excellent information, like the Podcast Education link where you can listen to samples of student podcasts. You will become a podcast aficionado that in no time you will be able to record, produce and publish your own podcasts in preparation for the launch of TTW 2007. Don’t forget, if you want to add any links to the resource page, please do so.

Visit the Teen Tech Week wiki resource page, and soon you will be podcast savvy, the envy of all of your colleagues and a hit among of your Teens.

Homework Help-Word of mouth?

Tinfoil Raccoon has an excellent post about the recently released report from the National Education Association in relation to homework help and reaching out to teens one evening at the library in ways that are relevant to their lives:

-Thursday gaming night
-discussion about a gaming magazine, what RPGs they play, and what anime/manga clubs exist in the area
-promoting the library’s IM homework help

Reaching out to the community about library services through casual conversation is also mentioned in Tinfoil’s post.

My coworker often tells me stories of reading manga at a restaurant and promoting the library because someone is interested in what he is reading.

What works well for you?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Filter Bypassing

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A recent thread on YALSA Book Listserv has librarians discussing a site that uses PHP to access filtered web sites such as Myspace. This is my response, and does not reflect YALSA.

When I was a teen, I used my school library regularly. My eighth grade year the new media center was finished, and a nice computer lab was attached. While the rules were clearly posted: No food, No Internet, and No games, I and many of my friends found many ways around it. We installed programs on the computer and placed them in folders that didn’t display on the desktop or start menu. While I regret what I did now, the fact that I did it remains the same. At the time I thought the rules were unfair and stupid. Even if someone had taken the time to tell me that games were a waste of time I would have protested and continued on.

Fast forward to today. Teens aren’t trying to play time wasting games, they are trying to waste time making new friends, sharing information before they forget it, and use Internet resources that we have no clue how it will benefit them in the future.

No one could know all those years ago that I would be able to volunteer in Second Life, create a web site www.mbmpl.org, and give presentations about online communities. Who knows what these teens will do in just ten years, let alone 20.

While the teachers and parents in us wants so much to protect the teens from even themselves our efforts to keep things from them will only make it more desirable. Online predators have been around since IM has been around. I was confronted with unwanted advances, but I always ignored them. I remembered as a little kid watching a movie about a 30 year old man who kidnapped a boy by asking him to look for a puppy. I also remembered reading The Face on the Milk Carton. Earlier this year I found a video at NetSmartz. At this site there are many resources for teens and concerned adults. This is just one of many sites that have a focus on helping teens understand online safety.

Others have said this before I have, but filtering will do absolutely no good for teens. It only makes parents and others feel like they are protecting the ones they care about. In order to progress into the future and stop repeating the cycle of filtering and banning we have to learn how to instill trust in young adults. I think that the first step is helping them understand why we want to protect them, and give them knowledge about how to be safe. Ultimately it will be their decision, and part of growing up is taking responsibility for your actions. In some ways we are robbing a generation of the important developmental need to make educated decisions and learn from their mistakes.

Playing Video Games teaches its players how to take calculated risks. How to approach obstacles and overcome them. Filters are perceived as an obstacle, and as long as teens have filters imposed by librarians, school administration, and even society it will be a challenge they will work together as a team to defeat. I for one do not want to be seen as a level boss to be over come. I’d much rather be considered someone they can trust, someone who cares about them, and someone who chooses to provide them with information to allow them to make educated decisions.

In the future just as in the past there will be more things that parents will fear will harm their children. We can look at history to see that we have made mistakes all the time, in both extremes. There has been a lot of research about the educational benefits of gaming and the online communication of the sites like Myspace. While there will always be extremists who are on both side of every issue, I think it is our duty as librarians to provide people with accurate information no matter our personal convictions. While a year ago I would have told you its better to only provide one side of the issue, thus force your opinion on them. Now I understand that if what I believe has any true value providing someone with the truth will allow them to make the decision for themselves as well. Its why extremists never are able to persuade enough people to cause lasting positive change.

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”