Free Software

For one of my classes I was asked to explore educational software. I chose to explore Tech4Learning. I downloaded Video Blender to create a Machinama, and discovered that the software wouldn’t allow me to upload video clips. I had to either open the video file with the software, or load each frame individually. It also wouldn’t allow me to draw. I had to create the frames in a photo editing program, and then import it in. Lastly I was unable to import all of the sounds I wanted that were different file formats. The software seemed best fitted for adding sound to a PowerPoint, but as I was saving my file I noticed gif was an option. I realized that this software cost money to do the same thing I can get from various free software. I then looked at examples of the various products from the software, and couldn’t help laughing when I saw the product of the SimplyVR. I saw the same “Virtual Reality” type photos ten years ago, on a walk through the Bible CD. I though it was lame then as a teen and I think it’s still nothing close to virtual reality. I can make that with an animated Gif with screenshots in Second Life if you guys want to see, but that won’t capture the reality of the virtual world, because you can’t truly interact with it. It’s just a 360 rotation of High definition photos.

I once used kidspiration my freshman year in my undergrad. I thought it was alright, but I quickly realized you were paying for the graphics. I can make the links and text boxes in Paint, and if I had the graphic collection of Kidspiration I could make the exact same thing for $10 (the cost of a graphics collection from Best Buy). Word offers a similar feature, but you can’t switch models as easily as you can with inspiration. Is $50 per student a worthwhile investment for a visual brainstorming tool? Is there any other software that could be used?

With Flickr’s Creative Commons license, it should be easy now to get pictures a teacher needs to use. There is some great freeware that allows you to search Flickr as well. Two examples are a Color Picker , and a Shape Drawer , in addition to the regular tag search.

As I used Kidspiration, I could see how useful it is for elementary school classrooms, which need to have software that is easy to use for both the teacher and the student. As the student enters Middle School and High School I think they should have software that has multiple uses, and keeps up with their skills. The Macromedia Package , now owned by Adobe, has three software programs that allow for teens creativity (Dreamweaver for Web Design, Flash for Animations, and Fireworks for Graphic Editing), and Apple offers a similar package in iLife . How can we expect the educational software to compare with these? What about the schools who can’t afford this? What will happen now that Adobe owns Macromedia?

There is some free software that is better than VideoBlender, and Inspiration, but not as good as the software Macromedia and Apple offers.

For those who want to know what is possible you can look at This website lets teens edit little movies, and mix their own soundtrack. Everything is preselected, so it only has one purpose, but that doesn’t mean we should not strive to meet at least that level of interactivity. Another web-based software is Clesh, , which allows the user to upload video to edit it and add soundtracks; this is very useful for creating Machinama. Garageband from Apple is very popular for editing sound, but if the software is too expensive, Audacity is a free sound editing tool, that many podcasters use. Photo editing can be very difficult, but normally you don’t need the all the features they offer, unless you are on a very advanced level. When I was talking to adults about creating outfits for Second Life, they recommend Gimp. I have found this software just as complicated as Adobe and Fireworks, but more advanced than Paint. The only option it lacks is the ability to make animated gifs, which is what I used for my icon. The best software I have found to make this type of animation is Gif Animator. The only software from the Multimedia packages that I haven’t mentioned a free counterpart for is Web Development. If you know html, you can use HTML Kit to create WebPages very easily. It color codes the text so that you can visibly see the structure of the code, and all of the tags are available through the shortcut bar.

All of the free software mentioned does have its disadvantages, but it’s better than having tools that students don’t want to use. I grew up with computers. In third grade I had already learned how to type well enough to do my spelling words with a Garfield game, and had mastered a game called Mario Paint that allowed me to do everything available in VideoBlender except export to the computer. In school, I had computer classes every week, and by the time I was in middle school, I could access anything on the library computers I wanted to, including the games students like me hid on the hard drive, I could create flyers, greeting cards, and handouts using Publisher; Charts and Spreadsheets using excel; Word documents with word art; and by the time I entered high school I knew how to use PowerPoint.

I can adapt to computers very quickly, and the teens and children we have today are even smarter, and more tech savvy than me. I think we should prepare to help them use the tools that are as flexible as they are. If not we will be left in the dust.

The way I look at technology is as a tool. It lets me get things done faster and better. When you stop treating it like a tool, and expect that just having the technology is good enough we risk failing to meet the needs of the children and young adults we work with.

Posted by Jami Schwarzwalder

10 Things to Do Before You Get to the ALA Conference:


1. If you want to minimize costs by sharing a room with someone, post your request on the YALSA-L discussion list, or ask coworkers.

2. Find a coworker, classmate or friend who is also going to the conference and plan to meet up for a meal, to tour the exhibit hall and/or go to receptions. Milling around a gargantuan convention center with 20,000 strangers can be daunting, but having a friend or even acquaintance to join you in attending specific activities makes things less stressful.

3. Do some pre-planning to identify what programs and events you’d like to attend at the conference. You’ll find information in:
a. The official conference site
b. On the YALSA Conference Page

c. From ALA’s Conference Wiki

4. Plan things to do while you’re in New Orleans

5. There isn’t a bus or commuter train available from the airport to downtown (it was this way before the hurricane), so arrange to share a cab with someone, or reserve a seat in advance on one of the airport shuttles. Shuttle information is available here: ALA offers a discount with Airport Express. It is only a $2 savings, but you can make your reservations online.

6. Purchase tickets for the Printz Program & Reception, Edwards Luncheon and/or Reading With Your Ears Preconference. To purchase tickets, contact Nichole Gilbert at or 1.800.545.2433 x4387. Only tickets for the Printz event will be available on site (& they’ll be $6 extra).

7. Very comfortable shoes. Really.

8. An extra bag, or plan to ship items that you purchase or get for free from the exhibit hall.

9. A sweater. It will definitely be hot and muggy in New Orleans, but almost everything is air conditioned, and the convention center especially can be chilly.

10. Lots of business cards to give to colleagues you meet, potential employers and/or to exhibitors for a chance to win prizes.

If you have any questions about YALSA at the Annual Conference, please don’t hesitate to contact the YALSA Office at or 1.800.545.2433 x4390. If you have general registration questions, please contact 1.800.545.2433 and press 5. Advance registration is now closed, but on site registration is available.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in New Orleans!

-Posted by Beth Yoke

The future of Music

In one of my classes this week we are talking about MP3s. One of my classmates pointed me to a Canadian broadcast, The End. They create three 22 minute segments about the future of Radio, TV, and Print.

As I was watching the segment about Radio, I realized another reason we shouldn’t block MySpace. We are keeping Teens from discovering music. Why would a library provide teens with headphones, and then block the music they want to listen to?

When I was in middle school we listened to the radio, in high school songs on the Internet, college downloaded music, and now I have playlists created in Itunes as well as loaded onto my iPod. In the past I have used various mediums to obtain my music, and one of the ways I have discovered new music was at the library. It is easy to pick up a new CD when I am unable to buy it. I know many individuals that use the library to upload songs to keep on their computer.

The format of audio has changed from CDs. Just as there are patrons that still want Records have an authentic listening experience there will be many patrons that still prefer tapes, and CDs. It is our job to make sure that the teens are not forgotten.

Now if you have never set up an account with Yahoo Music, Pandora, or Rhaspody, now is you chance. Also check out the Myspace page of a band you, or your teens like. Maybe we can get some ideas for programs, collections, and even services.

Posted by Jami Schwarzwalder

Recruitment by Invitation

Posted by Kendra Skellen, TAGS Committee Member, Gwinnett County Public Library

This is the way to go if you want to limit the number of teens you have on your Teen Advisory Board. Some areas to recruit from are:
• Library teen volunteers
• Recommendations from School Media Specialists

• Recommendations from library staff
• Recommendations from teachers
• Other teen leadership groups in your area
• Boy & Girl Scout Leaders
• Boys & Girls Club counselors

You could use an application process and use the applications to then interview the teens and make your choices from there. This could be a very time consuming process, but it will usually weed out the teens that are not really interested in being on the board.

Sample applications:

Gwinnett County Public Library Teen Scene

Vancouver Public Library

Halton Hills Public Library Teen Advisory Group

YALSA @ 50

Enter the WayBack Machine (with thanks to Mr. Peabody and Sherman!)

YALSA history nuggets– 1991

Young Adult Services Division of ALA changes name to
Young Adult Library Services Association, jump starting our acceleration toward the 21st century

We’re celebrating YALSA hitting the big 5-0 in 2007,

fifty years of serving young adults with excellence in libraries.

Your turn…the YALSA50 committee is looking for our luminaries–we’llcreate podcasts and interviews with YALSA leaders
to inspire and energize us all.

Suggest names here!

Your YALSA50 Committee

Posted by Mary Arnold

YA Facilities: Flexible Furniture

One of the things that sticks with me from John Beck’s presentation on the gamer generation is that they expect change and in fact, like it. So when Judy Sheriff’s posted a request recently for YA-YAACers to be her “Consumer Reports for beagbag chairs,” I thought I’d collect responses and add a few of my own favorites. It turns out that bean bags are no longer the YA seating of choice, mostly because they can be tough to clean and don’t hold up well to bellyflops. Some other alternatives:

Padded hassocks in different sizes
Circle chairs
Large floor cushions
Wavy high/low chair
Video rockers
Poof Chairs
Bean Bag Loungers

Foof chair
Crushed can chairs

Library Consultant Kim Bolan reminded readers to not just ask teens what they want but show them options. “Most libraries have the best success if they show kids the wealth of other furniture options that are out there. This will usually steer the majority away from the bean bag. I find that most just assume this is their only comfortable seating choice.”

Teen buying trips to Target and Pottery Barn were recommended.

Restaurant style seating seems to be a trend – maybe because teens like to eat?
Cafe style
Booth Style

Some of my favorites:
Bed Bath & Beyond Storage Ottoman – I saw these at a local library, but they were on wheels – a hassock with side pockets and a removeable seat with a reversible cushion that becomes a tray.

JC Penney has floor cushions, seating cubes, and more – click “Home Furnishings,” select “Kid’s Rooms,” pick “Teens,” and then select “Seating.”

Stacks and Stacks has clever hassocks with stands – flip it over, and you have a tray table.

Walter Knoll Nelson 605 Swivel Tray Armchair – like those student desks in high schools across America, only comfy!

And this would be MY dream addition to a YA space:
Double Decker Study Carrels! It meets the developmental need for physical activity! Then again, I always wanted bunk beds growing up, and never got them – maybe that’s why I think these are so cool.

What is YOUR favorite YA seating option?

~posted by Beth Gallaway

Proposed Legislation: DOPA

Posted by Beth Yoke:

Recently a member of Congress (Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick R-PA) has proposed legislation called the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). If the legislation passes, it will force sweeping changes on the Internet. It seeks to target sites like MySpace by regulating “commercial social network sites.” They are defined as any commercially operated Internet website that allows users to create web pages or profiles that provide information about themselves and are available to other users; and offers a mechanism for communication with other users, such as a forum, chat room, email, or instant messenger.

The goal of the proposed legislation would be to expand the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to include commercial social network sites among those to be filtered in facilities that use federal funds to provide Internet access through the E-Rate, like schools and public libraries.

To learn more about this proposed legislation, or to find out how to contact your Congressperson, go to the ALA Washington Office’s site.

Open Recruitment

Posted by Kendra Skellen, TAGS Committee Member, Gwinnett County Public Library

How do you recruit? Here you will use your standard forms of publicity: word of mouth, brochures, posters, flyers, web and maybe applications. When we started our TAB groups at our branch libraries, we used an application form. This allowed us to create a database of interested teens, and each teen then got an invitation from the library for the first TAB meeting at the branch of their choice.

If you are relying on posters and flyers, you will want to place these items in more places than just the library. Where to place the flyers and posters:
• local hangouts
• coffee houses
• parks

• schools
• Boys & Girls clubs
• Library (of course)

Make them eye-catching with enough information to catch their interest.

If you have teens who are already volunteering in the library, they are some of the first you should try to recruit. They already have an interest in the library or they wouldn’t be there volunteering. Ask they to help recruit their friends and to put up posters and flyers to the places where teens hang out.

Next posting – Recruitment by Invitation

Teens Are Great

Posted by Linda W. Braun

A couple of days ago I was with a group of teens in a public library and was reminded of how wonderful teens can be if we give them the chance.

There was a group of about 20 teens at the library for the weekly teen advisory group. For this week’s TAG the teens were testing out some new games the library purchased. Not everyone wanted to play every game, and when some teens were playing a game others weren’t interested in, the non-interested teens hung out, talked, read, etc. No one got all crazy about not being able to play. Similarly, whenever it was time to try out a new game, no one got all crazy about having to give up what they were playing.

The one game that brought everyone around the gaming console, and the TV which it was hooked up to, was Karaoke. (Which had a DDR dance pad attached along with a microphone.) All of the teens were interested in watching and/or singing. All of the teens cheered each other on – even when it was obvious the person singing had a terrible voice. When one of the youngest (and smallest) teens said he wanted to sing (he didn’t play any of the other games) I was really impressed with how comfortable he was getting up in front of the others whom he had just met, and how supportive the other teens were of his singing.

There were a couple of things I thought about as I spent time with this group of teens. First, the library was obviously a place where they felt welcome and respected. They were comfortable in the environment and were comfortable being themselves. They knew no one was going to judge them about how they played, sang, talked, etc.

Another thing I thought about, this is something I think about all the time, is how much more often we need to tell the positive stories about teens and what they do for themselves and with and for each other. The afternoon I spent with this group of teens was a definite positive story of smart, respectful, and confident teenagers.

I also have been thinking about how the library, through this TAG, demonstrated several of the ways in which it is possible to help teens develop successfully as outlined by the Search Institute’s Developomental Assets. These include:

  • Support – by respecting the teens, giving them a chance to plan programs and services, and giving them a place in which to test things out and be themselves.
  • Boundaries and Expectations – by helping the teens cycle through the games in order to test each one.
  • Empowerment – by giving the teens the role of game testers and by showing teens then can “perform” in front of others and not be judged.
  • Social Competencies – by giving teens the chance to play games together, hang out in a comfortable environment, and talking to them about their needs and interests.

I know the library I visited isn’t the only one doing great things for teens. It’s incredibly exciting however any time I get to see the positive impact library services can have on teens in actual practice in a library.

Second Life Library

The Second Life Library 2.0 popularity is growing. We are starting to have more classes, regular reference hours, and many visitors. Our facilities now include the main building, a smaller version with a medical library, and teen planning area, a beautiful Garden, friendly neighbors and a new outdoor classroom.

In addition to our wonderful library on the Adult Grid, Kelly Czarnecki is working on creating a Teen library on the Teen Grid. In Second Life, there are two different worlds. One is for adults 18 and older, while the other was created for Teens. Adults are not allowed on the Teen Main Grid, but approved educators are allowed to purchase an island for about $1250 up front and $195 a month. Last night was the first official meeting for organizing this library. For complete minutes you can go to Virtual Teen Library: Second Life, the official blog.

Look forward to more updates about this library.

Posted by Jami Schwarzwalder