April Eureka Moments

Happy Spring! Or is it still freezing cold where you are? Or already hot as summer? Regardless of the weather, spring is a great time for the birth of new ideas, approaches, and programming. Maybe something here will inspire you.

  • You might be working and living in the “stroke belt,” did you know? Eleven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia) are designated as areas with incredibly high prevalence of stroke, and new research shows that teens living in these areas are at higher risk for having strokes when they are older. This means that encouraging healthy habits and the cessation of unhealthy ones that could contribute to strokes, like smoking and diet, should be emphasized. Have you done any health programming lately? Read a news report on the study here, or check out the full article in Neurology. Continue reading

March Eureka Moments

How’s your team doing in March Madness? Mine just got to the Sweet Sixteen! While you’re waiting for the next time your alma mater plays, check out some of these interesting ideas and insights.

  • We all know that teens love to text. To respond to this, many schools and colleges now use text message alerts to notify students of school closures or safety issues. But what about health issues? It turns out, lots of doctors and researchers use text message interventions to tackle adolescent health concerns. In North Carolina, a free texting service offered teens the chance to anonymously ask questions about sexual health, and the teens involved in the study said that the service made them feel confident and encouraged them to follow up and learn more about their health. A similar study in 2011 offered teens weight management tips, and the weight and BMI of the study participants decreased after the intervention. College aged smokers participated in an intervention that left 40% of them staying away from smoking for a period of at least 7 days, while other participants reported less dependency on nicotine, which is also a good sign. Obviously as librarians, we cannot offer health advice. But what can you take from this study? Can school libraries use a texting service to alert students of new titles in the collection or upcoming book club meetings? Can public libraries partner with public health organizations to offer helpful services for teens concerned with a certain health or behavior issue? Can teen advisory groups pilot their own peer mentoring or counseling texting program? There are a lot of possibilities, and medical research shows that such programs can have really great results. Continue reading
  • December Eureka Moments

    We’re almost to 2013! Though I know you’re probably busy with end-of-year plans, projects, and tasks, I wanted to tell you about some recent news, research, and innovation you might find informative or inspiring for your library work.

  • A study recently published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research surveyed middle school students on their experiences with cyberbullying and found that those who engage are most often both victims and perpetrators. They looked at reporting behaviors, too, and found that even when students report cyberbullying, it rarely stops. If you’ve been addressing only one end of cyberbullying, you may want to consider changing up your programming to look at why it is that students both engage and suffer from it, and your teen advisory group might be interested in discussing methods that reporting and prevention programs can be made more effective.
    Holfield, Brett, and Grabe, Mark. (2012). Middle school students’ perceptions of and responses to cyber bullying. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(4), 395-413.
  • It’s that time of year – rather, it’s been that time of year since before Halloween – when all the ads and commercials you see have a Christmas twist to them. Have you seen this viral video that parodies the Coca Cola bears to draw attention to the harmful health effects of drinking too much soda? Called The Real Bears and sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the video features a song by Jason Mraz (no doubt to hook people who don’t know what it’s about) and shows a family of bears slowly getting sicker and sicker as they make soda more of a part of their diet. Have your teens seen it? With a lot of strong reactions in both directions, the video might make for a great conversation starter in one of your advisory groups, or it could prompt some programming or displays on health and nutrition. Continue reading
  • Twilight and Abusive Relationships

    I never thought I was going to have such a serious problem with a popular book that I almost didn’t put it on the shelves. I’m a cool, gay, sex-positive, pro-teen agency guy, I thought to myself when I was getting my MLIS, the parents may have problems with my selections, but too bad! I’m here to advocate for the students. And then I read Twilight.

    I almost didn’t buy the Twilight books for my 7-8 school library. I don’t hate them because I’m a guy, or because of the excruciatingly bad prose, or the corruption of vampire mythology without acknowledging or commenting on the original, or even because Bella is such a waste of space. I hate them because of the sexual messaging they impart to teens, especially teen girls, robbing them of agency and normalizing stalking and abusive behavior.

    Continue reading

    What Does That Have to Do With Libraries?

    I get asked this question a lot. Sometimes it comes right after the “Oh, you have to go to school for that?” moment–you know, from someone who thinks a Master’s in library sciences means Basic Shushing 101 and Advanced Glaring Techniques.

    Sometimes it comes up when I’m carrying around a couple of Guitar Hero controllers (or my new DDR pads–huzzah!) and I have to explain–again–why one line of my business card reads “Library Gaming Advocate.”

    …Or sometimes it comes when I’ve just gotten back from an event with a swag bag that looks more like it came from a gay pride event than an educational conference. Continue reading

    This Library Has Been Blocked Pending Further Review

    As a school librarian in a district that uses WebSense, I’m all too familiar with the blocked page screen. For the mostpart, filtering seems to be limited to what someone recently referred to as “bandwidth hogs”–sites like YouTube, which could definitely tax district servers if too many students tried to browse all at once.’  Every now and then I’m frustrated by a block–like when a friend recommended a book to me, and for some reason the review she linked was blocked–but I generally understand the rationale behind most blocks, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it (*cough*Facebook*cough*).

    But what happens when the blocker isn’t WebSense or internet filtering at all? What if you can’t access a resource because a colleague or an administrator or your community has decided you shouldn’t?

    Continue reading

    For a Broken Condom, Press 1

    Via RH Reality Check, I’ve learned about the awesome SexInfo. Launched in San Francisco by Internet Sexuality Infomartion Services (ISIS), SexInfo lets teens receive health information via text message when they send numerical codes for common questions–1 for a broken condom, 6 if you’re not sure you want to have sex, and so on. While the texts require minimal effort on the part of teens, the messages they receive in response fully utilize the character limit. Responses include clinic addresses, hours and phone numbers, and a brief (often empowering) message to the teen, like “It’s ur choice 2 have sex or not.” Continue reading