Teens and Information Literacy

Earlier this month, Wired magazine ran an article by Clive Thompson that discusses how students today lack reliable Internet search skills despite being digital natives. He points to a study conducted by the College of Charleston where a group of students were asked to look up the answers to several questions. Most of the students used Google and selected the web pages at the top of the list, not knowing that the order had been changed to include less reliable sources as a part of the experiment. The study concluded that the students placed too much faith in the search engine-generated results than in their own abilities to assess information.

Why are students who are so adept at navigating the digital world so unskilled when it comes to selecting what’s reliable and accurate? Continue reading

Give Teens What They Want

I started working as the YA’ representative in my library in 2008, amid the fight to prove to the world why gaming belonged in libraries. This was a fight that YA librarians across the country were involved in, so much so that books, journal articles and blogs were made dedicated solely on the topic. In my library system, we won this battle and now have gaming systems at every branch in our system. And this is true nationwide. If you take a look at the teen programs offered by most library systems, you will find gaming on the agenda. We won this battle.

So what happened? YA librarians seem content to let it stay at this level, when in fact, we should be continuing to push to make more and more technology available to teens in the library.’ A recent study by McCann Worldgroup showed that teens would rather lose their sense of smell than their techonolgy.(http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385960,00.asp) And technology consists of much more than just gaming.’  There are many free websites available that allow users to’ create their own animated’ videos, like xtranormal.com.’  Scratch, a free software program designed by MIT (http://scratch.mit.edu/), allows users to program their own video games.’  All of this is available through technology we already have in our buildings and’ we should be using it in teen programming.’ ‘ YA librarians have already shown that technology is an’ essential part of teen programing.’  We have an obligation to teens to continue to push to get free technology in their hands.

So why not ask for green screen technology like Charlotte-Mecklenburg uses for their teens?’  Why not ask for digital’ ‘ and video cameras’ so we can teach teens how to create their own short-length movies?’  Why not ask for Macs to use Movie-Maker?’  Why not ask for Photoshop to teach teens how to edit their pictures.’  All of these things are becoming basics in information literacy education.’  One of the new rolls libraries are striving for is to become teachers of information’ literacy- to become the experts on these topics.’  So why not ask for more?’  The worst that can happen is to be told no.’  The best that can happen is to be able to give teens more reasons to love the library.

What a Librarian Can Learn from Chess

A few years back I bought a chess board for our library, the kind with a magnetic board that makes it a bit portable, and one where I hoped students wouldn’t lose pieces too easily. I placed it on a spare student-sized desk near the library’s entrance with two nice chairs on either side. Teachers and students began sitting down or huddling deep into a game while waiting for a class to end or during a free period. I placed our few books about chess next to our game and hoped the board would help welcome in more library users. Then the school year ended.

When the new school year began, I put the chess board back on its desk. Three days into that school year, a handwritten notice was found under the board: Continue reading