I’ve wanted to host a Minecraft program at my library ever since I began working there last August. I mentioned the idea to our teens and quickly saw that there was a captive audience for it. Minecraft is the epitome of this year’s YALSA presidential theme; with this game you can connect with your teen patrons, encourage them to collaborate, and create amazing things within the game! When Teen Tech Week came along, it felt like the perfect opportunity to test out a Minecraft program.
Working in a small library with limited resources, I knew there would be obstacles to overcome. We have eight public computers that are positioned directly in the center of the library and do not have a separate room for a teen space. Our lack of computers limited the number of potential participants right from the start since I knew I wouldn’t be able to use all of the computers. We also share a network with the other libraries in our consortium so I knew that hosting a server would be complicated.
I was also worried that my Minecraft skills were not up to par. I know a lot about the game, but I have to confess that I don’t really play….at all. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to monitor the players in a way that would work for everyone. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to help players who got stuck. I worried that something would go wrong with the game, and I wouldn’t be able to fix it.
Even with all these obstacles, without a budget, and without much technical know-how, I was able to pull off a successful Minecraft program at my public library…and you can, too!
Thoroughly in the swing of things now? Already bored with what’s going on? Happy but ready to add more programming and interest to your services? Whatever the case, maybe some of these innovations, research publications, and other cool tidbits will inspire you.
You know your patrons like games. And you may already know of some of the social justice gaming websites and programs out there, like Games for Change or Spent. Now it might interest you to know that there’s a new game out there designed specifically to target your ethics, not just to make you live in someone else’s shoes or support a cause. Quandary is its name, and it was designed by The Learning Network, a collaboration between MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Take a look at the game here, and then consider if your gaming club might attract new members with an interest in social justice, or if your volunteer group might like to try some gaming. Now that so many teens are so savvy at programming, you might be able to get a group together to create a game that tackles a local issue that they find important.
Title: Minecraft Explorer Pro
Tired of switching between windows as you pause your Minecraft game and open your browser to look something up on the Minecraft Wiki? This hand-held reference for your mobile device has all of the crafting recipes and mob facts you need, as well as an Enchantment guide, a Skin Studio (in app purchase of an additional 1.99), seed codes to type in for different map results, and a list of Minecraft servers, where you can keep track of your favorite places to play. The app includes links to the Minecraft Wiki for more detailed information, but is organized visually for quick browsing that is fast and user friendly. (more…)
As the school year winds down for me, it’s easy to get caught up in the last minute whirlwind of final exams, papers, coercing materials returns, and talking my wonderful faculty off the proverbial ledge.
But when I’m really on my game, I begin thinking about the first couple of months of the next school year and cataloging what, if anything, I need to do to lay a foundation for successful programming. Teen Read Week is always an event that sneaks up on me (and I’m on the committee, for goodness sake!) since it usually happens mid to late October and I’m in full project swing by then.
After over a decade of being a school librarian, I can chalk up my success to that much-overused word, collaboration. For me, collaboration just means using the network of relationships I already have with my teachers and students and searching for any new relationships in my community that will help me do my job which, in the case of Teen Read Week, is promoting recreational reading.
Title: Angry Birds Space
Platform: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (s), iPod touch, iPad, and Android. Requires i0S 4.0 or later.
The pigs are back to try to outsmart the birds, but this time they meet their fate in…space! Rovio Mobile, the same company that developed all of the previous Angry Birds games, has just unveiled the newest addition to the Angry Birds game family, Angry Birds Space. This game has all of the same excellent and addictive features as its predecessors, plus more. Since launching just last week, the app has already been downloaded over 10 million times! What makes it so cool? Well, the battles between the pigs and the birds take place in space where there are gravitational force fields and the game has new varieties of birds with special abilities, such as the bird who can freeze things by casting an ice shield when launched. This game is really fun and a must for teens who already enjoy the original Angry Birds games. (more…)
Title: Michael Jackson The Experience
Platform: iPad: requires iOS 4.2 or later
When Michael Jackson The Experience came out for Xbox Kinect every teen in my library wanted to give it a whirl, but some were too shy to shake it in front of their peers. This excellent iPad app is a great alternative for teens who just aren’t comfortable doing their best rendition of “Thriller” in front of an audience. In this format, they can let their fingers do the dancing and save themselves some humiliation, all while taking part jamming out to MJ’s classic hits like “Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Blood on the Dance Floor, “and much more. Don’t see your favorite song included in the game? No worries, you can download other songs through the in-app purchase function.
The game functions by using your fingers to make a series of swipes across the screen, following the prompts for each impending dance move. When this happens, the Michael Jackson avatar comes to life and performs real Michael Jackson signature moves. Thankfully, the game is not sensitive to how large you make the signs or where on the screen you make them; just as long as you perform the correct “swipe motion,” your move will be properly executed. The animation and game graphics are amazing and will not let you down. (more…)