Social Networking-levelling the playing field

Beth G.’s post on ‘Social Networking: Not just for Teens’ made me think about using social networking tools in my own library system.

Even if you are not part of a large library system, (or even if you are), consider connecting to the community-places that might use social networking tools to share the work you are doing.

‘Add as friend’ is a common capability of such networking sites as (Flickr, MySpace, YouTube, Ning, etc.) This way, each branch or agency can preserve their autonomy but contribute to the whole by becoming a ‘friend’ with one another. Using social networking tools as part of our professional work also allows us to connect better with others who might not be librarians.

Add your ideas to the YALSA wiki page on using social networking tools with colleagues here. It’s not just about who has a MySpace page at their library but what can you do with it to increase your visibility for the great work you are already doing? Let the world know! Meet others besides librarians to connect with. Don’t see a group you’re interested in? Start one!

Try Twitter to connect with colleagues at the next annual conference! Not going to annual? Start a Twitter group for another conference you’re going to.

There’s the InfoTubey awards (to be announced next week at Computers in Libraries conference!) what about awards for teen services using social networking tools in innovative ways for users and with colleagues? Announce winners during Teen Tech Week!

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

What is “our job” vs. “our responsibility?”

You get a phone call from someone that tells you their son/daughter is skipping school and they want to know if they are at your library. You get a phone call from someone that claims they are the mother/father of a teen that ran away from home and they have a search warrant from an officer to prove it. Someone claiming to be a parent comes into your library and says, “I want to know if my son/daughter has been in your library today.”

How do you respond and why?

Do we automatically trust the person on the phone or that the person at the desk is indeed the parent of who they say they are? How much responsibility do we need to take on to determine that? We trust an adult who says who they are yet at the same time we often teach teens on social networking sites such as MySpace to not trust most anyone they meet online? What is it about someone that says they are the parent of a teen (if you really don’t know) that we believe them? Or is that not usually the case?

I look to the column series in VOYA, How can we help? Particularly Lynn Evarts, The School Library as Sanctuary, (http://tinyurl.com/2b6wyw), December 2006 where she talks about reaching out to teens that might seek the library as a place of comfort. If I hear about a teen running away, my automatic response in my head is that, maybe they left a bad situation, how can I as a librarian give them the tools to get them out of that situation? ‘Get them out’ not necessarily meaning they need to be in contact with the police, but ‘get them out’ in a way that gives them some choice and responsibility to take care of themselves. I think that by automatically trusting the adult that comes to us, negates any possible relationship we can build with a teen, even if it might only be for five minutes.

While I am not saying that librarians have some special connection with teens that security and police can never possibly have, I am saying that we do have a way we can connect with teens. What if we give them resources of local runaway shelters that may be able to work with them, because like with the police, and with library security, we have made a connection with people that work with teens? We know where those shelters are in town. Staff at the shelters know us by name when we call them because we have made it a point to visit them and explain why. What if that could make all the difference? What if that would make the job of a police person easier? What if we can do our jobs and fulfill our responsibilities at the same time and most important, give the teen back the control of their life that they probably need most right now?

This is why I think it is good for people to have an appreciation and maybe even an understanding of playing video games-especially those who make policy for our libraries. It’s about understanding there are other options. It’s about not being afraid to take risks if a risk for your organization might mean putting some muscle behind the core values of your library that you already have established and available on your web site.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Students Give Up Social Networking for Lent

I read this article on CNN and thought it makes sense for those that observe Lent. It’s no secret the Internet can have an extreme pull that results in paying less attention to other things. There is a teen I work with online who is on spring break starting today and is excited to spend over eighteen hours/day online. I suggested that probably wasn’t maybe the best idea (b/c it’s not really a balance). The end of the article is a quote that says, “People are realizing that reality involves people, not pixels.”

To me, this is the same argument that pits tabletop games against video games, books against movies, graphic novels and books w/out images.

A healthy balance of people and pixels is probably a good idea, though one is not inherently better than the other in my opinion. Reality for keeping in touch and connecting with people are indeed pixels many times. While it’s not a substitute for f2f, it’s an option. Using social networks to connect with people brings different benefits and creates relationships in different ways.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

YouTube-You Choose

This month, YouTube set up a hub for candidates here. According to the Charlotte Observer, “In this contest, Barack Obama leads handily. Obama, who was ahead of most of the competition by getting himself up on YouTube six months ago, had more than 627,400 views of his channel as of Tuesday. Several of his 21 videos have been watched by 100,000 plus.”

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

What’s going on in your state re: social networking?

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper wants MySpace to install ‘parental consent programming.’ This would mean that without a parent’s approval, those under eighteen would not be able to use this site as well as similar social networking sites. This is only one of many proposals cropping up on a state by state case. Again, as with DOPA, while the intention might be to protect children, how will this legislation help to educate children to use this and similar sites responsibly? How does this legislation even attempt to understand the many positive uses of social networking sites? Hopefully the State Library of North Carolina will respond as they will be contacted. What is going on in your state? Please share and check/add to the YALSA wiki.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Teen Services

I spent all day today at a retreat for Teen Services at my library. Since it is a large system, we make new discoveries each time we are together. Social networking tools such as blogs, Flickr, and wiki’s keep us communicating and sharing. Presentations on gaming, pop culture (I should probably turn on my tv once in awhile for more right answers), book talks, programs, hands on activities, and of course sharing YALSA schwag, were some of the things we did.

What do other libraries do to work together as a system to serve teens better and celebrate the way that you are serving them now? Does your system encourage Teen serving librarians (and other teen serving staff) to be YALSA members?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Sconex

Any teens using Sconex? It’s the “unofficial web site for your high school.” It allows members to search for their classmates, share photos, set up a blog and a profile. Safety link with general issues are also part of the site.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #28 – Raising awareness

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #28.

Teen dating violence is one of the issues explored through stage performance by the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. The actors visit a battered women’s shelter before beginning rehearsals as part of their research to understand some of the issues that surround dating violence.

I had the opportunity to interview the actors and the Director of Domestic Violence Services at United Family Services. The actors talked about their experiences with performing, and the domestic violence director talked about teen dating violence in general. I will post the podcasts on the YALSA podcast page ASAP to share with you the conversation.

Podcasts are social networking tools that can be used to open up dialogues and comments for the purposes of informing and learning from one another. While teens would still be able to listen to podcasts even if DOPA is passed, they might miss out on the opportunity of playing a role in the dialogue at the public or school library. When it comes to raising awareness of issues, that’s not a tool we should have to lose.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #25 – Freedom to Choose

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #25.

Social networking technologies often allow for people to express their own opinions. A teen can set up their own blog in less than five minutes, post a comment on a forums board, or share what materials they are reading through LibraryThing. Check out SLJs recent article and podcast on LibraryThing here.

People who read and contribute to blogs, forums boards, wikis, etc. are being given the choice to be exposed to information that they might not otherwise come across as readily. Is it not slightly ironic, that DOPA targets school and public libraries, which are places that historically protect the freedom to access information?

It is my opinion that there are many parallels between Banned Books and freedom in the digital world. Making connections between the two, as well as being familiar with sites such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation might help us understand why DOPA is not the beginning and is not going to be the end of legislation affecting the digital world. It might help us to want to inform the teens we work with who use these technolgies of what the bigger picture is and not just be reactive or hope it will go away.

I wonder if Teen Tech Week might be one of many places to continue the dialogue of freedoms in the digital world and why/how it is just as important as protecting our freedom to read books.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #24 – Learning by themselves

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #24.

Social networking technologies support young people’s active ability to learn on their own without having an education system imposed on them. Many mission statements of school and public libraries involve, empowering individuals. Helene Blowers, Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, has an excellent discussion on control and empowerment in this blog post from last month.

If DOPA would have passed in its current form, control would overwhelmingly outweigh the innate ability for teens to learn and create on their own through social networking.

Recent Library Student graduate, Jami Schwarzwalder’s podcast on: Meet the Millennials: Risk Takers and Rule Makers is an engaging listen as to how social networking tools influenced her life as a millennial and how they empowered her to actively learn on her own, and bring that knowledge to libraries.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki