App of the Week: Discovr

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Music Map

Title: Discovr by Filter Squad

Cost:’ Free

Platform:’ iOS 7.0 or later on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (optimized for iPhone 5)

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been busy spreading the word about one of my library’s Teen Read Week programs, Express to Speak. The workshop is the culminating event of our second annual writing contest and will focus on hip hop and spoken-word poetry. With Teen Read Week and hip hop on the mind, I was inspired to “Seek the Unknown” through Discovr, an app created for music exploration.

There are a few different apps on the market designed to introduce listeners to a variety of artists (e.g. Spotify, Pandora, etc.), but Discovr offers something unique–interactive Music Maps that draw connections between similar musicians. Start the process by searching for a musician, and the app will create a map with new bands. If you wish to expand your options, tap a musician and watch the map grow. Continue reading

YA Programming Behind the Scenes: DJ Mixing

DJ mixing ‘ is’ essentially’ creating a continuous musical track by combining songs or sounds, mixed together using loops, scratching, or other techniques.’ The Teen Advisory Group tends to be drawn more to geeking out, crafting, and competition. But as this has a much cooler vibe than most, this program brought in some guys that had never shown up at our events before.

713 DJ Mixing

For this event, we bought one basic DJ mixer (the MixVibes Ion Discover DJ with MixVibes Cross) which works with your desktop computer’s iTunes. Basically it can pull all your iTunes songs straight into the MixVibes Cross software where you can then mix up the songs, scratch, loop, and create playlists. Some accomplished DJs you might know include DJ Jazzy Jeff, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, DJ AM, Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, Grandmaster Flash, Spinderella, DJ Skribble, Samantha Ronson, and Jam Master Jay, and while the DJ mixer software is simple to use,’ it has enough bells and whistles for a beginner to play with. Continue reading

App of the Week: Sing! Karaoke

Sing!Title: Sing! Karaoke‘ by Smule

Cost:’ Free (additional credits must be purchased or earned for some songs)

Platform:’ iOS 5.0 or later on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad; Android 4.0 and up.

So you may not be an American Idol or the Voice, but who doesn’t like a little friendly, musical competition? Sing! gives smartphone and tablet users the opportunity to compete karaoke style from anywhere. ‘ Sing the words on the screen, and earn points for rhythmic and vocal accuracy. ‘ If you are especially proud of (or amused by) your performance, you can share the recording with other Sing! users and watch it climb the “Hot Performances” list. ‘ There is an additional option to share your talent via facebook, twitter, and other social media sites, or if you’re feeling a bit shy, you can keep your performance private. Continue reading

App of the Week: Dimensions – The Sonic Adventure Game

dimensions logoTitle: Dimensions-The Sonic Adventure Game
Cost: Free (with in app purchases)
Platform: iOS 5 or greater

Before this week’s App of the Week review, a reminder to vote for your favorite app for teens in 2012.

I learned about Dimensions when reading through a list of the 12 most beautiful apps of 2012. (There are a lot of great apps in that list by the way.) The Dimensions app caught my eye because it integrated several features that I thought would be of interest to teens – music, augmented reality, and being able to play with others across devices and locations.

It is a beautifully designed app and the play is also intriguing and fun. First off, anyone who plays has to make sure to be using headphones. The music in the app (it is a sonic adventure game of course) is key to play. If you don’t have headphones plugged in the app will remind you that you should. As a matter of fact the app reminds you regularly of what you should be doing – which is helpful. The reminders come by way of text and the voice of the woman who narrates the game and gives information on how to play.
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July Eureka Moments

School’s out, I’m no longer sick, and the blog is no longer down! In honor of the evolving focus of this column, I’ve changed its title and broadened my scope. But don’t worry; I’ll still be trolling the various databases for hard-hitting research, too. The first month of summer is usually the busy one, in which students are still finishing school, are already in summer school, or have begun to embark on busy summer adventures, like camp and travel. So the ideas I’m offering you are a bit more low-key or focused on the librarian, rather than the patron, since I gather that your patrons are not exactly in the mood yet for anything that requires a lot of commitment.

  • Last weekend, PostSecret put up a (trigger warning) postcard from someone who dislikes being labeled intolerant for saying that certain types of people are, maybe, hypocritical about oppression. That made me think of a tumblr I found once upon a time called Oppressed Brown Girls Doing Things, whose tagline, “Because we’re still oppressed,” is awesomely readable in a multitude of ways. You might just find this fun to read when there’s a lull in your day, but I know I’d love to see some of these posts find their way into a collage on a library wall, a bookmarks list on a library computer, or into the meeting of any group that meets in your teen room. While the content ranges from NSFW language to sarcastic gifs, the blog also brings up a lot of pertinent points about what it means to be a woman of color. Continue reading
  • May Research Roundup

    I’m back! After a month off for vertigo and another month of innovating, I’m glad to be resuming this column, even though it probably needs a new title, since it’s as much about innovation and general cool-stuff-is-happening-all-over-the-place-and-you-should-apply-it-to-your-library-work as it is about research. That said, here is some of the fresh new ideas coming out of the woodwork and being published or publicized this month.

    • After I’ve waited for what seems like forever (but is really just since I joined Twitter and started following Levar Burton), the website RRKidz is finally live and going somewhere! This 21st century incarnation of “Reading Rainbow” promises access to the classic episodes that I know I adored as a kid as well as new content for today’s media devices, those ubiquitous tablets and genius phones, curated by Burton himself. My first recommendation is for you just to get excited. But also consider that some of your patrons may still remember the original show, and my guess is that even if they claim to be non-readers, they’ll have some great memories of it. “Reading Rainbow” may be for younger children, but you can get your teen volunteers excited about it by mimicking the show’s popular “You don’t have to take my word for it” section, in which real kids recommended their favorite books to others. What a great way to get teens to sit in on storytime, or to volunteer in your children’s section, and they can just as easily create videos on library computers to share their favorite YA stories with fellow teens, along with your help.
    • The New York Times magazine recently held a contest for the best essay answering the question “Why is it ethical to eat meat?” The contest subject and its judges (all white men, mostly already known for championing animal rights and being vegetarians or vegans) immediately prompted outrage, interest, and annoyance, and all of the comments and criticism are well worth reading. Continue reading

    30 Days of Innovation #26: Performance and concept art

    I admit that this is more of a call for you all to innovate than it is me giving you ideas. I’ve been thinking lately about how today’s popstars, especially Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Jessie J, are all about having distinct, out-of-this-world style and attitude to go along with their music. Instead of the concept albums of the 1960s and 1970s, today’s pop culture likes its concept artists. Gwen Stefani mixed ska and angst with Jean Harlow, Katy Perry fetishizes and infantilizes herself, and the UK’s Marina & the Diamonds is unabashedly seeking popstar superstardom, and her aesthetic is all about how she’s “obsessed/with the mess/that’s America.” You can argue whether or not these artists are good or bad, whether they’re obvious or esoteric, whether they’re legitimate or faking it–I know I do–but you can’t deny that they are memorable and fascinating.

    So what does that have to do with youth services? Lots, I’m sure. Thinking about popstars and performance/concept art can lend itself to all kinds of interesting book displays and programs. You may even end up inspiring a new generation of quirky songstresses and 21st century Bowies.

    • First, check your catalog for CDs by any musician you would consider a “performance artist” or “concept artist.” You can also check at the end of this post for some suggestions. Next, create a display where you connect these albums to biographies that may be in your adult nonfiction section, novels about teen musicians, and other nonfiction titles relating to the artist’s aesthetic, from vintage fashion to abstract art. If you don’t feel you know enough about this topic, this is a great opportunity to bring in your teen advisory board or an awesome library student intern. Continue reading

    App of the Week: SoundCloud

    Title: SoundCloud

    Cost: Free

    Platform: iOS 4.0 or later, Also available in the Android Market.

    Launched on January 12th of this year, SoundCloud is not the first sound recording app, but I would argue that it is certainly the most polished. SoundCloud gives users the ability to record sounds, with the choice to then share them publically with friends and followers or keep them private. When you first employ the app, you will be prompted to create a free account by designating yourself a username and password along with the option of adding a photo to your profile. The next step is to choose sounds or people to follow. By searching for people, you can find your favorite music artists and the new sound bites they record. Just like with Twitter, real bands have the “Official” seal of approval on their account so users know that it is, in fact, the actual artist or band behind the account. This is a great way to hear new music that hasn’t even been released yet. Fans can get a sneak peak of what is coming down the pike and musicians have the ability to get their music out before the album is released.

    Not only does this app have excellent features for music fans, but it’s also, ideal for aspiring musicians. SoundCloud is the perfect way for budding teen artists to record their sounds and share them with the world. The sharing featuring links to Facebook to help the user locate friends who also use the app as well as to post sound recordings, for others to hear. Within the app there is a tab called “stream,” where you can look at recent activity within your follower community. From there, you can also listen to new sounds complete with timestamps noting when they were originally posted. Continue reading

    App of the Week: Michael Jackson The Experience HD

    Title: Michael Jackson The Experience

    Cost:’  $4.99
    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. Continue reading

    YALSA Podcast #101: Teens & Music

    This episode’s guest is April Layne Pavis. As convener for YALSA’s Teen Music Interest Group, April takes us on a whirlwind tour of teens, music and ways to integrate music into your own library’s programming.

    Teens & Music

    If’  you prefer, you may go to the’ YALSA Podcast Site, download the Mp3 file and listen to it on the Mp3 player of your choice. To avoid missing future episodes, add’ the feed to Itunes or any other rss feed tracker.

    If’  you’re interested, check out the Teen Interest Group on’  ALA Connect; while there you can get ideas, learn about new music or even share programming ideas of’  your own.