My Space Security Through Staff and Advertising

Posted by Linda W. Braun

Last week My Space announced that beginning May 1 they will have a Security Officer on staff. The job was given to Hemanshu Nigam – formerly of Microsoft and the U.S. Justice Department.

This hiring coincides with an advertising campaign My Space is initiating along with The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and others, to educate about the possible dangers of online community.

Ever since I heard about the hiring of a security officer at My Space I’ve been thinking about the balance adults need to help teenagers reach. I’m talking about the balance between the ability to feel empowered to make choices (and sometimes bad choices) and the need to keep teenagers safe from the dangers the online world potentially brings.

I’m not sure a security officer and public service announcements is the way to go in order to strike this balance. It’s very similar to tactics used for other areas in which teens must make decisions that relate to their health and safety – drugs and cigarettes come to mind. Do statistics show that the PSAs teens see and hear help them to make smart decisions in these areas?

Of course the people teens trust in their lives really have the key to helping make good decisions. These include:

  • Trusted librarians who listen to what teens have to say about their use of the technology before making judgments.
  • Trusted librarians that are willing to test out the technology before jumping to conclusions.
  • Trusted librarians who advocate for teens and their use of technology.
  • Trusted librarians who think about how technology supports teen developmental assets and see technology use as more than passive entertainment.

These librarians perhaps help teens to make good choices better than a security officer or PSAs ever can.

Before the ad campaign and the security officer go to work I hope the people involved don’t make assumptions about teens.

  • They need to know that teens have the ability to reason and make good decisions.
  • They need to know that teens don’t automatically go to the dark side just because they are teens.
  • They need to know that teens often know the rules of Internet safety and know how far they can go in order to remain safe.

A picture of a teen on My Space does not automatically mean that the teen who posted the image is going to decide to rendezvous with the next anonymous stranger she meets at the site.

If you haven’t heard about My Space enough at this point – it sure is in the news a lot these days. There was an interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times about how the online community is going to be connecting with and displaying advertising on the site.

Literacy

In one of my classes today we were talking about literacy statistics from the D. C. Literacy Clearinghouse. We were all shocked to find out that the number of adults with low-literacy abilities are quite high. In 1996, Approximately twenty-five of American Adults could not read well enough to address an envelop correctly. Forty-three percent of adults that are at the lowest level of literacy proficiency live in poverty, while only four percent of individuals with strong literacy skills are considered poor. The Ohio Literacy Resource Center reported that fifty percent of the nation’s chronically unemployed are not functionally literate.

What does this mean for young adult librarians? First we must recognized that individuals in the library, reading material is a good thing. It doesn’t matter that the girls are reading what we would consider trash, and the boys are going through car magazines. I remember high school English as being the most boring thing on earth, because all of the assigned reading was classics that didn’t even use the English I spoke everyday with my friends. I loved reading the YA novels that were in my high school media center, along with children’s books, chick lit, and comics. I would have people judge me for not really enjoying the classics, and now I look back and see I was the one who was right. Reading is reading.

Another thing we must realize, especially those just entering the profession and still in school, is that the people that walk in you door may not be able to read, and it may be extremely embarrassing to tell another adult that. We can’t assume that writing down a call number or directions will meet the patrons needs. It can be hard to remember sometimes that a college education isn’t normal, in fact a high school diploma may not even be the norm. The national average for high school drop out rates is one in three. That means that those teens that may be in the library causing you problems maybe the same adult that doesn’t know how to help their child in 10-20 years with homework, because they can’t read the materials. Engaging them somehow, and working with them may be a better idea than judging them for being teens (socializing, exploring different interests, and pushing the limits).

I think the library should be an inviting place for these teens to come and feel free to find themselves. It doesn’t matter if they are reading novels, or even reading at all, because the message you send when you let them have the space, and access to the information could tell them “You have a chance to make something of yourself. You are welcome in the library as you, and can use any of the information here how you want. You can even find pleasure by reading, which you may not find at school.” Who knows they could be not reading at the library because they have to read all day for school and they don’t have the time, but when they do have the time there the books will be right in reach.

Lastly I wanted to point out that all of the studies about literacy and child performance state that low literacy is a cycle. It affects parents who have to work extra jobs to make ends met when they don’t have the skills to have a higher paying job. The attitude that school is hard, and there is no help gets passed on to the children. Low literacy is also associated with poor health, since the parents can’t understand the medical advice given, or read the labels on the medicine. The most effective way to increase a child’s performance is to increase the education level of the parent’s. As librarians we can be human with our patrons, show them that we aren’t different from them. To break the cycle a child needs someone to go to for help with homework and encouragement. Middle school tends to be the place where poorly educated parents are no longer able to help their child and I think many libraries have great programs to help both students and adults, but it is important that we encourage it as acceptable.

You can make a difference in lives, but the impact you make maybe so small you may not realize it. Sharing your passion for reading with both parents and teens, as well as you willingness to help, openness to the teens suggestions, and commitment to creating great programs and selecting quality and popular titles, can make the difference between an illiterate adult who reads at a fifth grade or below level, and a college graduate. It is the connections with people that help make the library dynamic, so please make connections, and remember on the bad days you are doing good things.

Rantings by Jami Schwarzwalder
Statistics from D. C. Literacy Clearinghouse

Second Life Library 2.0

Alliance Library System has started a Second Life project. They have created a library within the game, that people can use as meeting place.

Second Life Library 2.0

As part of the library they are going to offer different programs such as a Book Discussion group on Tuesday nights, and live events. This morning they had their first Library program hosted by the Johnson County Library KS as part of the Librarian’s Continuing Education Seminar Series. They featured David King who spoke about how IT and librarians can talk each others language. For more information on upcoming events visit the official blog

Lori Bell

Lori Bell originally had the idea, and now a group has began to help her. For more information about participating with the library you can join thier Google Group

Second Life Library 2.0

I encourage everyone to take a risk and try something new like Lori, together we can make great ideas into reality. I think that is what organizations are for.

The images are from the Second Life Flicker Group. The first one is the library, and the second is the avatar for Lori. I included the last picture (me with a box on my head) because it is an example of me looking completely unprofessional, when I did not know how to open a box. Do not let the technology intimidate you. So what does it matter that I got a box on my head. I took it off and someone helped me open it. That is what people do, and as librarians, I think we need to remember that it is all right to look dumb sometimes. Those moments teach us what we need to know.

posted by Jami Schwarzwalder aka Eiseldora Reisman

More reasons for TAGS

Judy Macaluso TAGS Committee Member Ocean County Library

Today’s Millenial Generation wants to give back to their community and to become involved in things that affect them. Our library has been very successful by our TAGS being a community service opportunity and for teens to earn volunteer hours for their participation. And when that concept is carried forward into meetings where they learn that their ideas count and programs they want can and will happen and they are making a difference – it’s a win-win for sure. It is good to keep in mind that teens influence not only their peers, but their parents and adults as well. A meaningful experience for them being a library TAG member can have an unforeseen ripple effect. Positive news about the library, it’s activities and staff gets communicated to others. An unorthodox, but effective public relations strategy for sure! What are your thoughts about TAGS being a community service opportunity?

Why Teen Advisory Groups in Libraries?”

Judy Macaluso TAGS Committee Member Ocean County Library

Reason #1:Simply said working WITH teens is working FOR teens in the most developmentally appropriate and effective way. Teens on their way to adulthood are getting into the game of life – voicing an opinion, formulating an idea, making a plan, taking action, dealing with success and failure and making a difference. Teens want to do – not be done to. That is youth participation and that is what YALSA and Teen Librarians espouse.

Reason #2: Libraries are truly part of their community’s youth development support system. TAG’s are like Scouts, 4-H, Clubs, etc. By practicing youth participation with TAG’s libraries make young lives better – and that’s the whole point – isn’t it? Libraries that make lives better make a community better.

Reason #3: Rapidly changing fads, trends and interests – libraries have to know or they fall flat on their face. Teen Librarians need to be in touch with the unique teens in their unique community with their unique interests. Why have collections, programs and services that do not meet needs. Bottom Line: Libraries need to provide value and meaning by being in touch with the community we serve.

Reading Patrick Jones’s New Directions in Library Services to Young Adults is a great inspiration as well as Diane Tuccillo’s VOYA Guide – Library Teen Advisory Boards. And a valuable websites is http://www.jervislibrary.org/yaweb/TAGs.html

What would reason #4 be from your point of view?

PreConference Update

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Registrations are still being accepted for the YALSA Preconference, Reading With Your Ears.

During the Preconference, Listening Library/Books on Tape is holding an exciting contest.Attendees are invited to an open audition (held during the preconference break times) that will include reading and recording a small sample. The winning librarian and a guest will be flown to New York City to attend a recording session of a YA novel AND record a literacy message to be used on a future audiobook.

Don’t miss this chance for fame! Attend the Reading with your Ears preconference!

Volunteer Tips

As we move into spring, librarians around the country are starting to think about using teen volunteers over the summer. Talk about YOUTH PARTICIPATION! I had the privilege of working with over 100 teens in the six years that I supervised a computer signup program. Teens to manage Internet signups for up to 26 computers and assist users with non reference transactions such as attaching files, printing, typing in a URL or setting up an email account. Even if you have software that manages your computer signups, consider using technology savvy teens to assist users with computer tasks.

It was a great program that met the needs of the library, gave teens community service credit, and built the following developmental assets as defined by the Search Institute:

Other Adult Relationships: Working with library staff and developing a relationship with YA librarian.

Caring Neighbors: Librarians were like caring neighbors – they grew to like kids and become concerned about their success and well-being.

Community Values Youth: The program itself demonstrated that we appreciated teens who provided this useful service. Volunteers were also invited to suggest web site links.

Youth as Resources: Teens brought computer expertise of their own to the job.

Service to Others: Teens earned community service hours for work.

[Library] Provides Clear Rules and Consequences: We gave volunteers the library rules and volunteer tips in writing and explained them in person; teens were held accountable in evaluations each semester as well as through supervision during their shift.

[Library] Monitors Behavior: Teens were supervised and expected to follow library rules and set a good example for peers.

High Expectations: Every teen who wanted to try being a TCC volunteer was allowed to get trained and try it. We expected a 20-hour commitment, and got parent buy-in – parents had to sign the volunteer form. I did train teens who dropped out after 4 or 10 hours. I also had one boy perform over 200 hours! He is a college senior now – and we’re still in touch.

Caring: Volunteers often came to work for us to help people.

Honesty: Teens had to treat all customers the same and be truthful and accurate about who was on what computer at which time; also, I didn’t work every shift and they had to accurately track their hours of service.

Responsibility: Managing 26 machines was a LOT of work! Just showing up was a responsible act.

Planning and Decision Making: Determining who to put on which computer, how to let someone know their time was up and learning when to get a librarian for help involved problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Interpersonal Competence: People skills were very important in this job, more than the computer skills.

Cultural Competence: Our busy city library allowed teens to interact with people for a variety of backgrounds, ages and situations.

High Self-Esteem: There were many opportunities to feel good about volunteering.

Sense of Purpose: For that 2 hour shift, that volunteer felt both expert and needed. We thanked teens for working at the end of every shift, praised them when they did well, and let them make mistakes to learn from. Most years we had a gathering of some kind, and teens were invited to the annual volunteer luncheon. I wrote many letters of recommendation for job and college applications.)

These were my volunteer tips when I ran a volunteer program. In an initial 45 minute training session, teens got an introduction to the reference staff, a quick library tour, and we went over the Internet policy, the behavior policy, the job description (they were computer volunteers) and computer signup procedures. I showed them lots of things in the volunteer manual and explained it was a resource, but I went over each of these tips in detail.

VOLUNTEER TIPS

Sign in/Sign Out. A sign-in sheet for each volunteer is located in this manual. Please keep track of your hours and check for notes from your supervisor on your page. (I totaled hours and did certificates for 20 hours, then at the end of each fiscal year; the number of teens and number of hours was counted in the annual report.)

Wear your volunteer pin. Pins are located on the desk. Pins let the staff know you are authorized to do signups and let patrons know to see you for help. (everyone hated the pins. Hats or t-shirts would have been nice. The pins didn’t have names unless the kids wanted to write them in – just s logo and the word volunteer. They always forgot to take them off. I lost a lot of pins.)

Introduce yourself. Make sure you greet the staff you are working with and remind them who you are. (this was important for helping me do evaluations. Also, staff members always thanked the teens for working – good for teen esteem – and allowed the staff to see teens in a positive light.)

Be friendly, polite and professional. This is a customer service job. You might be the only library person a patron talks to, so smile and speak clearly. (I reminded kids not to say WHAT? but to ask patrons to spell their names or write their own names, to make eye contact, etc).

Treat volunteering like a job. If you are scheduled to be here, be here on time ready to work. If you cannot make your shift, please call the library so we know not to expect you. (I told teens they didn’t need to ask permission to miss a shift, it was simply a courtesy.)

Users first. Get in the habit of looking around every 5 minutes to see if people left or sat down without signing up. When a patron comes over to you, STOP whatever you are doing. Smile and make eye contact THEN ask how you can help them. (This was just a reminder not to get completely engrossed in your own computer when volunteering.)

Ask for help when you need it. Don’t be shy! If you have a question you can’t answer or a computer you can’t fix, get a librarian right away. (I showed teens where to find answers to questions like how do I attach a file, but reiterated they could ask the same question every day and we would patiently show them/give the answer.)

Know when to get a librarian. It is not the duty of the volunteer to monitor peers for appropriate use, enforce rules, or discipline those who break the rules. See “When to get a Librarian” on the next page. (This was VERY important – I also encouraged teens to get an adult ANYTIME someone made them feel uncomfortable.)

Keep visitors to a minimum. It is okay to greet people you know, but please be brief. Friends and family should not pull up a chair and hang out, or even use a computer next to yours. Get a librarian to gently remind friends that you are working. (This was a question I treated with a little humor “You’ll see lots of people you know, but no one should pull up a chair and hang out like I am doing right now. If your friends are a distraction, let a staff member know and WE can be the bad guy and explain that you are working.)

Volunteering counts as your Internet time. Please do not sign up before your shift. If you need more time after your shift, you may sign up for an hour. (Teens who volunteered were guaranteed a computer while they were working. We had a 1 hour time limit, so getting the computer for 2-4 hours was a nice perk.)

Remember you represent the library. Please dress neatly — whatever you can wear to school you may wear here — and take care of personal hygiene. (Teens usually laughed at this one, but I addressed issues like low-cut blouses and short-shorts here – we did have an instance of an adult hitting on a teen volunteer who looked older with her dress and makeup. I encouraged them to carefully consider the messages they sent with the clothing they chose, and sometimes it could result in unwelcome attention. Again, reminded them to get an adult ANYTIME someone made them feel uncomfortable.)

Headphones are not allowed when volunteering. They are distracting and make patrons think you are unapproachable. (we sold headphones for a $1 at the desk for patrons.)

Thank you for not eating and drinking in public areas. Drinks and snacks may be left in the Reference Office. (Teens could get up anytime to get a drink or snack from the office.)

If you work 4 hours, you get a 20-minute break. This is MANDATORY. See a staff member to get to the staff room. You may, of course, use the lavatory or water fountain whenever you need to. (The break is a state law – anything that applies to working teens applies to volunteering teens, including hours they can work. We asked that if teen would be gone for more than 5 minutes, s/he let a staff member know so the area could be monitored.)

Talk to your supervisor. If you are unhappy or have questions or problems, please contact Beth Gallaway at the library, on AIM, or via e-mail. (Contact info followed.)

I am happy to send the volunteer manual as an attachment to anyone who would like a copy – many of the procedures may be out of date, and the library has gone to an automated sign up system. E-mail informationgoddess29@gmail.com for a copy.

~posted by Beth Gallaway

YALSA is 50 in 2007

Posted by Mary Arnold, yalsa50 committee co-chair

You can never have too much birthday, so be sure to stop by the YALSA booth at annual conference in New Orleans June 22-28! The 50th birthday celebration group, YALSA Board and our great YALSA staff will kick-start the party early with 50th anniversary stickers for your conference badge to show all our colleagues that YALSA has been helping librarians serve teen customers well for a long time!

We are a creative bunch, so please post ideas for ways YALSA can get the word out — 50 and still young (adult) at heart! YALSA plans to celebrate it’s 50th Anniversary throughout 2007.

Working with TAGS and Staff to De-stress

Posted by Paula Brehm-Heeger, TAGS committee:

When there is tension in the Library, everyone feels it. Many libraries report that it starts around 2:30, when the after school crowd begins to trickle into the building. Often unhappy staff members are the most obviously stressed, but teens who feel unwelcome and unfairly targeted for constant correction of their behavior feel stress, too.

Lowering the tension level is tough to do once a pattern has been established, right? Sometimes words – no matter how calmly delivered to frustrated staff or teens that are not in the habit of trusting the library “really wants you here” – just don’t seem to do the trick.

Quality training opportunities– like those offered by SUS trainers – are extremely valuable. Take a look around your community, too. Are there staff training possibilities available from experts outside the Library profession?

Recently, I heard a community health educator specializing in adolescent medicine discuss the importance of bringing tense people out of the “red zone” – both mentally and physically – in order to effectively address challenging behaviors (“challenging behavior” of both teens and staff). This community health educator did a one hour stress management session with my TAG focused on physical and mental tools for simply calming yourself down. They loved it. Many have reported using these methods at school or when they are having difficult interactions with parents or teachers.

Why not host this kind of session for staff, too? It can be quick, easy and incorporated into a general staff meeting. Staff members may realize that, once they start reflecting on daily stress, it is not only (or perhaps predominately) teens that cause them to feel tension.

Now that my TAG has had some stress management education, they are very interested in talking more at our meetings about their ideas for de-stressing staff/teen interactions in the Library, too!

YALSA and WWE

Posted by Pam Spencer Holley

This year YALSA has been able to pair with WWE for several reading events and I wanted to describe some of what went on with our first-ever Big Time Reading Challenge this past March 31st. I was in Chicago to attend this cooperative effort among YALSA, the Chicago Public Schools and WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment]. In February and March students in Chicago Public Schools read Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher and then either wrote essays or took quizzes in their schools [and I may have some details wrong here, but the main thing is kids read], competing for the right to attend this final challenge. Several days before the March 31st event, some of the WWE wrestlers went into the schools and spoke with the students [and I heard nothing but positive comments from teachers, librarians and students about this].

On the big day, 150 students arrived at Robert Morris University in Chicago, along with Beth, Nichole and me from YALSA; Neil Yoke who worked with the press [this is Beth’s husband and he’s great at event planning]; various people from the Dept of Libraries of Chicago Public Schools; folks from Morris Univ, who were very helpful; and then WWE staff accompanied by wrestlers Shelton Benjamin, Rey Mysterio and “the mouth of the south” Jimmy Hart [once Jimmy arrived, I had to give up my microphone to him for emcee duties–there was no way I could have ‘wrestled’ it from him!].

CPS provided breakfast goodies for the students–juice and Danish–then everyone met in the auditorium for those “logistical details.” After that the group was split in two with half staying in the auditorium listening to Chris Crutcher while the other half went to take quizzes that would lead to the 16 finalists; after an hour, the groups had a break and switched locations. It was really exciting to be in a room with students who had all read the same book–Chris spoke in his usual relaxed manner and had the kids spellbound, especially when he shared where the origin of some of his characters, such as Telephone Man.

When the groups were all back together in the auditorium, the wrestlers arrived and Jimmy Hart announced the finalists, one by one, as they walked in and took their special seats. Wrestlers Shelton and Rey alternated asking questions of the students while Crutcher was the official judge of the answers. There were 5 rounds of questions [Beth and I both agreed that this piece could use a little jazzing up as it did get tedious listening to 5 rounds of 16 questions each!]. Eventually three top winners were selected. All the finalists received tickets to Wrestlemania [we talked to one girl who said she did this only to get tickets for her grandmother!], the top three winners received better tickets, duffel bags of goodies from WWE and money for their libraries [$2000, $1500 and $1000]. Every student who attended also received a Wrestlemania t-shirt, and a swag bag with book galleys provided by YALSA, bookmarks and other little goodies. Comcast provided door prizes and lunch from Subway and autographing as the Big Time Reading Challenge wound down by 1pm.

Though I’ve only been involved with the WWE groups twice now, each time I’ve been so impressed with this organization. The wrestlers they bring into the schools do a super job of interacting with students; they all seem to know how to talk to teens. I heard incredible reports from a librarian who worked at a school attended by many handicapped students who were just in awe of their visit from the wrestlers. Over and over we heard these comments from the Chicago librarians and teachers—you couldn’t help but feel good to be part of this event.