New Blogger, YALSA’s New Research Agenda

Hello! I’m Hannah Gómez, a new blogger and new member of YALSA, thanks in part to the Spectrum Scholarship. I’ll be blogging regularly about research and other topics, but today I wanted to start by telling you who I am, what I do, and why I’m here. Also, I’ll let you know why I find YALSA’s new research agenda so interesting, and why you should as well.

First things first. I’m a Tucson, Arizona, native who went to the University of Arizona for undergrad, studying creative writing, music, and Spanish. A few months ago, an airplane I was on touched down in Boston, the last flight to be allowed into the closed airport before Hurricane Irene hit. I’ve just started graduate school here at Simmons College, where I’m enrolled in their dual degree program, which will leave me with an MA in children’s literature and an MLS with a focus on youth services.

The future in library science just hit me one day. I had been answering people’s “So what will you do with your Bachelor’s?” with a general “Dunno. Go to grad school” for so long and all of a sudden I just blurted out “Be a librarian.” But it made since. In high school I never had to work at the mall or the car wash–I was lucky enough to get a job in social services, and though I held a variety of different jobs and internships over high school and college, most of them were related to the world of non-profits and at-risk youth. My favorite job was when I got promoted to community service project leader, supervising 8-14-year-olds who had been arrested and had court-ordered service hours to perform. I, at 19, was deemed responsible enough to oversee their work, keep them on task, and, I hoped, help them see something meaningful in what they were doing, whether it was painting in a community art project or picking up trash at a neighborhood park. I got to be a big sister type to the kids I worked with, and while doing our work we would also talk about the books, music, and movies they liked. So it seems to make sense. I love teenagers, especially middle schoolers, and I am a huge nerd who is always trying to find the right book for someone. I’m also the child of two teachers and the sister of a teacher, so I know how much, especially in these times, both teachers and students need the help of librarians, and both school and library settings are essential to developing youths. Compound that with my interest in social justice and non-profits, and voila! I want to be something like all of you.

So why the extra degree? Why the crit classes where you read as much Freud and Barthes as you do Virginia Hamilton and nursery rhymes? Well, Continue reading

Teen Tech Week/Library 2.0 Community Night

To celebrate Teen Tech Week the Brewster Ladies Library partnered with the Lighthouse Charter School of Cape Cod for a Library 2.0 Community Night designed and staffed by teens. The project was conceived in December 2007 during a brainstorming session with a Language Arts teacher at the charter school. We wanted to encourage teens to come to the library and learn more about its resources and ultimately decided to offer a “Library 2.0” seminar for students. (Each semester, the charter school offers elective seminars in addition to the normal curriculum, covering topics of interest selected by the instructors.) We put together a course description and to our delight, the class filled immediately.

Beginning in January twelve students and their teacher came to the library on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for 90-minute sessions. Since this was a new undertaking, we decided to let the kids set the agenda-for the most part. Not surprisingly, they chose to pursue projects using social networking technologies. They picked some of their favorite applications and a few new ones and set out to become “experts.” Working with Blogger, Flickr, Del.icio.us, LibraryThing, Project Playlist, and YouTube they mapped out the basics of each tool.

The teens created a blog called Interesting Teen Books to discuss their favorite reads, which will be linked to the teen section of our website. Each student learned how to use LibraryThing and created a personal page. They also made suggestions for the Library’s LibraryThing page of new teen titles. Using Project Playlist each teen created a playlist of songs for a favorite book and burned the songs onto CDs (after legally purchasing them). Our traditional list of links to homework help and cool websites is being retooled using Del.icio.us. The students mastered the site and can now make suggestions for adding additional links to our BLL Teens Del.icio.us page. To spice up our website the kids wanted better pictures and decided Flickr was the way to go. The library’s new Teen Gallery will be available to the public on Flickr as soon as they all hand in their photo release formsJ You Tube was the biggest challenge since the group wanted to write, shoot, and edit their own PSA about using the library. Armed with two brand new video cameras, purchased with funds from our LSTA Serving Tweens and Teens grant, they shot footage in and around the library and downloaded it to the library’s new iMacs. Editing with iMovie, the teens are crafting their take what it means to use the library.

Everything came together on the final day of the seminar, which coincided with Teen Tech Week. The library opened its doors to community to let the kids show off their stuff. The library auditorium provided the venue for most of the “stations.” With laptops in hand, students acted as teachers and tour guides and helped family, friends, and community members set up their own accounts with various social networking tools. They had all practiced with a particular application and were ready to go. Videos rolled, CDs played, pictures snapped, and there was even a session of Guitar Hero on the library’s new Wii to keep the party going. Refreshments were donated by local merchants and the evening was a total success. The best part of all? The teens in the seminar asked if we could offer “Library 2.0, Part 2” next semester so they could continue with their projects!

Kathleen Mahoney, Youth Services, Brewster Ladies Library