2013 Technology Trend: Ramped-Up Gaming

Full confessions: I’m terrible at video games. I lack the hand/eye coordination needed to work magic with the controllers. But I like to watch gamers. I know I need more practice, and I think that I would love gaming if I didn’t get so frustrated. It’s a vicious cycle.

Gaming in the library seems to come in cycles. First there was the DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and Guitar Hero, big spectacles that could be as much to watch as to play. Librarians raved about those parties. Then there was the Wii games – specifically, sports with teens (and also with seniors). Once a niche event, National Gaming Day has expanded and evolved into International Games Day.

This year Minecraft programs have swept through libraries around the country, but the Darien Library in Connecticut took it to the next level, scaling up to make the gaming experience even better. They host a county-wide server. Continue reading 2013 Technology Trend: Ramped-Up Gaming

STEM Into Winter Programming

Everyone’s talking about STEM (or the arts-added version showcased in the October issue of School Library Journal), and YALSA’s STEM task force produced an updated toolkit earlier this year to provide 41 pages of STEM programming resources just for young adult librarians.

SLJ_CV_OCT2013

If you’re stumped for ideas and looking how to integrate science, technology, engineering and math into your program schedule, look no further than YALSA’s STEM Toolkit.

It includes step-by-step program plans, advocacy information if you need to justify your program plans, resources, and dozens of ideas to get your program going.’ ‘ Chock-full of research on best practices and “why” STEM should be a priority for library professionals, the toolkit highlights the importance of developing a thorough program plan and guides you through initial brainstorming efforts to an adaptable teenprogram evaluation. Passive and active programming ideas from around the country are included,including three immediately replicable projects.

Check it out today! ‘ And ‘ thanks to STEM Task Force Member Jennifer Knight for the heads-up on this great resource.

 

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 March Eureka Moments
  • Teen Read Week 2012: Gearing Up for Collaboration

    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.

    Continue reading Teen Read Week 2012: Gearing Up for Collaboration

    30 Days of Innovation #17: Go Open Source

    I’m what some circles call a security wife – I think I’ve mentioned before that my husband is in information security.’  Lately, I’ve been sucked into helping plan their conference in November, which has furthered my immersion into the whole field. Yes, a lot of it goes way over my head, but I know more than the Average Jane. So what am I taking away from all of this to use in my own work? Well, I’ve increased my skill at designing the conference badges in GIMP, which is the open-source version of Photoshop. (If you need Photoshop, and the light version isn’t enough, beg your IT department to let you download GIMP. It’s free, and if you already know Photoshop, GIMP is a breeze). Open source shouldn’t be seen as innovative for our libraries in this day and age given how long it has been around, but it is. Continue reading 30 Days of Innovation #17: Go Open Source

    Teens, Tweens, and Technology – What Are You Doing?

    They’re in our libraries, on our computers.

    But what, specifically, is the life of a tween or young teen like in this digital age? What are the particular challenges and opportunities they face online? And how do libraries help them?

    We will explore these questions at the 2012 Presidents’ Program at ALA in Anaheim. It will be a joint affair between ALSC and YALSA. Michelle Poris (of Smartypants) and Stephen Abrams will be talking about tweens and young teens, exploring their use of technology, and asking the question “What should libraries be doing?”

    But the real point of this post: what are YOU doing? Continue reading Teens, Tweens, and Technology – What Are You Doing?

    Join YALSA for a Midwinter Hack Jam!

    Get a pair of x-ray goggles that really work! While these may not see through a steel plate, they can see right through the Internet!

    YALSA is pleased to host a demonstration of one of the Mozilla Foundation’s newest tools: the Hackasaurus web x-ray goggles. This javascript app gives teens – and anybody else – the tools to discover the rich world of code hiding just beneath the surface and gives them the ability to remix the web. Continue reading Join YALSA for a Midwinter Hack Jam!

    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 App of the Week: Michael Jackson The Experience HD

    30 Days of How-To #23: Minecraft

    I’m cheating a little because I haven’t actually played Minecraft with teens on the brand new multiplayer server space I just rented. ‘ But I do play a lot of Minecraft with my friends, I have talked a lot about it with teens, and I am going to offer the game as a regular teen program starting next week.’  Here’s what I’m doing to bring Minecraft to the library, and links to some interesting ideas about things you might do with it.

    But first, what is Minecraft?

    Minecraft is a game where you roam a landscape full of different sorts of blocks that you can move around to build anything you want.’  You can dig deep to find different resources, and explore to find a variety of environments.’  At night, zombies and other monsters come out, so you need to protect yourself.’  The game was created by Swedish programmer Markus Persson, and is being developed by his company Mojang.’  It’s still in beta,’  so there are new updates all the time.’  Minecraft is getting prettier and more involved with each new permutation.

    I love this game because it demands creativity.’  You have a world, and you can do anything.’  It’s even more fun with friends, where in building your world you find yourselves cooperating by sharing resources,’  planning building projects,’  helping each other and showing off for each other.’  I can’t wait to see what happens when I turn my group of teens loose in their new world.

    Here’s a video for you to take a look at Minecraft.

    Click through for more.
    Continue reading 30 Days of How-To #23: Minecraft

    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.