Instagram of the Week – March 14

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Last week from March 6-12 marked this year’s “Create it at your library” Teen Tech Week celebration. Sponsored by YALSA, this yearly initiative aims to connect teens and libraries, and encourage teens to make use of the library’s nonprint resources. As the Future of Library Services for and with Teens discusses, the knowledge divide continues to grow as one in four teens does not have access to technology. Participating in events such as Teen Tech Week provides an opportunity for teens to gain experience with technology tools in an informal setting and strengthen digital literacy skills. Libraries around the country took part in Teen Tech Week by showcasing maker and breaker spaces, hosting DIY and science programs, introducing teens to new technology, and having fun!

Mark your calendars for next year’s Teen Tech Week celebration from March 5-11, 2017.  Continue reading

Create it at Your Library: Preparing for Teen Tech Week 2016

Teen Tech Week is YALSA’s yearly initiative encouraging libraries to engage their teen community with resources that enhance their digital literacy skills. During March 6-12, libraries across the country will be buzzing with tech programs, STEM activities, and will be showcasing their digital resources with pride. Not only does this week in March allow us to engage teens with exciting opportunities, but it also gives libraries the ability to demonstrate their incredible value to the larger community. As library staff, we understand how imperative it is that our teens enter college and the workforce with skills that will allow them to hit the ground running. For some, this is an exciting task that they feel well equipped to tackle. For others, it’s a struggle; budgets are tight and technology can be pricey. However, no matter what the technological climate is in your community, there are a myriad of ways to prepare for Teen Tech Week that don’t involve dumping loads of cash into a new 3D printer. With the help of some great resources and inspiration, you’ll be well on your way to hosting the best Teen Tech Week ever.

Taking incremental steps is the best way to begin your preparation. Head over to YALSA’s Teen Tech Week site and register for a free account to access all of the resources that are available to new members. Under the “Resources” tab, you’ll find toolkits that will help you advocate for teens and technology, develop programs and activities, and publicize this exciting week in your library. As you explore the site, you’ll be ready to integrate the maker mindset into your programs and services. Use the Easy Advocacy toolkit to get your administration on board and word out to local policy makers and community leaders. Understanding the importance of this initiative will ensure their support and help you out in the long run.

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Teen Creative Writing & Art Contest for Teen Tech Week

As part of Teen Tech Week, YALSA is teaming up with the Connected Learning Alliance, Deviant Art, the National Writing Project, and Wattpad for the Twist Fate challenge.

The challenge is to get young people (ages 13-17) telling stories about what happens when a hero becomes a villain, or a villain a hero (through writing, video, digital art, animation, etc.) and sharing them across the Deviant Art and Wattpad platforms. It’s happening March 6-April 6th, and to ramp up for it there will be a series of free webinars with guests including Mimi ito, Christina Cantrill, Candice Mack, Josh Wattles from DeviantArt, and Jing Jing Tan from Wattpad:

Connecting the Creative Sparks of Young Makers to Supportive Communities of Practice Feb. 11, 7pm EST

Storytelling and Making Redefined: Get to Know the Wattpad Community Feb. 18, 7pm EST

Meet the “Deviants”: Networked Artists and Makers of DeviantArt Feb. 25, 7pm EST

How are you preparing for Teen Tech Week?

Teen Tech Week is right around the corner and we all know that it takes a ton of planning to make this short week awesome. We also know that not all of our teens geek out with the techy stuff. How do you geek out for teen tech week when your teens aren’t really interested? Comment below and let us know.

How do you plan your teen tech week? Where do you get your ideas? Take a look at the cool instagram posts below and see what has been done. For some other ideas that Charlotte Mecklenburg will be using, try floppy disk notebooks, or the game Charades that can be played from a smart phone. Also, 3Doodlers are a huge hit and also making music remixes. What are some successes and fails that you’ve had? We all have things that work out great and some that just fall flat. Comment below and tell us your story.

Self-Directed Programs: Scavenger Hunts

An amazing way to get your tweens and teens to know the “unfamiliar” bits of your library is to do self-directed scavenger hunts. You know that your “kids” tend to congregate to one particular area- whether it’s your teen space, a place with the most comfortable chairs or a low table for card gaming, or the place furthest away from the supervising eyes of the non-teen people at the desk. And while they’ll know where to find the YA books, MAD Magazine and Alternative Press, and manga, do they know where to find non-fiction books for reports? Or how to operate one of the databases? If you become devious and take a little time out of your day, you can take a theme and turn a lesson in the library world into a creative self-directed program that will make them want to participate.

Scavenger hunts can be as intricate or as simple as you want them to be. Think about your current teens and the browsers that you have. What do they like, what things grab them? Do you have a program coming up that you could use this program as a gateway, like a Lego or Rainbow Loom makerspace? Are your teens gearing up for state tests or are you starting to build up for summer? Are you celebrating Free Comic Book Day or Star Wars Day or any of the newer movie releases? Take any of those and create silhouettes or in-house graphics to place around the library- depending on the length you decide your program will be (a day, a week) they can be printed on normal printer paper or card-stock, but they don’t have to last long.

Or, like I did for Teen Tech Week this year, take a page from Gwyneth Jones (, The Daring Librarian, and go with a QR scavenger hunt! Instead of characters and pictures, make your hunt virtual and hide QR codes around the library for teens to scan and learn. I used ours to introduce our new Ipad and tablets to our tweens and teens.QR Code hunt

Once you have your theme, decide on the length of the hunt. I typically have used 8-10, depending on the size of the library, but you may want to go larger or smaller. Remember your audience- you don’t want them to completely zone out, but you don’t want them to think it’s a “baby” thing, either. Questions I’ve used before have been:

  • Nicely, introduce yourself to a staff member you’ve never met before, and get their initials. (with a picture of the Mad Hatter Tea Party on the reference desk)
  • Horror is a sub-genre of our fiction section, and Carrie is based on a book by this author. Find the author and the book and find your next clue.

So get creative and then sit back and watch the fun!

Submitted by Christie Gibrich

Teen Tech Week: Self-Directed Contests

I am completely in love with self-directed contests. Also known as passive programming (which always leads my superiors to think that there is NO thought or work involved at all, which is not true), these self-directed contests get teens involved because they are:

  • drawn into the library by the contest itself
  • ask the staff questions about the contest and about the items in the contest
  • use math and logic skills to figure out the answer
  • promote the contest to their friends

Even better, while they do take imagination and ground work, like all self-directed programming once they’re put together and set-up they take little or no staff watching, aside from the interaction with teens! My contests run on average for 2 weeks (some less) and generate on average between 25 and 40 entries. Continue reading

TTW: Start with What You’ve Got

Feel less than tech savvy? Concerned that you are not techie enough to pull off a Teen Tech week program? Well, don’t be! While it is fantastic to have the double bonus of offering coding or robotics during Teen Tech Week (March 9-15)’ the reality is that many of us do not have the skills, budgets, the time or the passion to learn them.’  Remember the foundation of Teen Tech Week is to promote our library’s digital offerings. Additionally it is more than likely that you have more digital skills than you give yourself credit for. And if you don’t have those skills you can probably get a teen to help you work out some of the kinks. ‘  Continue reading

Teen Tech Week: Judge a Book by Its Cover

If you’re still looking for ways to celebrate Teen Tech Week, consider a “Judge a Book by its Cover” contest.’  For the contest, teens redesign covers of their favorite books. At my library, we give winners a brand new copy of their book with their remixed cover.banner_1002x200

Libraries looking for ways to harness the DIY ethic for Teen Tech Week can run this contest by eschewing pencils and paper. Photography, digital cartooning, 3D modeling, desktop publishing— not only are a wide range of tools available, but often teens are itching for a chance to play with them. Contests like this always get more traction if you can work together with a teacher or school. If the teens can get extra credit by working in their school computer lab or design class, so much the better. However, if access to those expensive Creative Suite programs isn’t that easy, there are excellent alternatives that are open source and library-friendly. Continue reading

Connect, Create, Collaborate…Craft! A Teen Tech Week Post Mortem: Minecraft in the Library




I’ve wanted to host a Minecraft program at my library ever since I began working there last August.’  I mentioned the idea to our teens and quickly saw that there was a captive audience for it. ‘ Minecraft is the epitome of this year’s YALSA presidential theme; with this game you can connect with your teen patrons, encourage them to collaborate, and create amazing things within the game! When Teen Tech Week came along, it felt like the perfect opportunity to test out a Minecraft program.

Working in a small library with limited resources, I knew there would be obstacles to overcome.’  We have eight public computers that are positioned directly in the center of the library and do not have a separate room for a teen space.’  Our lack of computers limited the number of potential participants right from the start since I knew I wouldn’t be able to use all of the computers. We also share a network with the other libraries in our consortium so I knew that hosting a server would be complicated.

I was also worried that my Minecraft skills were not up to par. I know a lot about the game, but I have to confess that I don’t really play….at all.’  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to monitor the players in a way that would work for everyone.’  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to help players who got stuck.’  I worried that something would go wrong with the game, and I wouldn’t be able to fix it.

Even with all these obstacles, without a budget, and without much technical know-how, I was able to pull off a successful Minecraft program at my public library…and you can, too!

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Teen Tech Week: Looking Forward

by Kip Odell

As we near the end of Teen Tech Week, librarians will begin to evaluate their programs. Experiencing and learning about library programs in action during this week is always a great reminder about how important technological literacy is for teens and how beneficial hands-on experiences can be for them. This year three things have stood out to me during TTW:

  • While it has been said before, it is worth saying again, that Tech Week is really a year-round event. The programs we create during TTW are great to bring awareness to library technology and information, but they are also jumping-off points for teen services librarians to continue similar programs for the rest of the year.
  • Collaboration is more important than ever. As technology moves forward and evolves, learning from each other helps everyone create relevant and necessary programs for teens. Luckily, there are numerous sources to keep you up-to-date, including great information from YALSA.
  • Speaking of change, the move to provide active, hands-on learning experiences is upon us! This has really always been our charge, but it has been accelerated with the focus on things like maker spaces and the emphasis on mentoring teens as they become digital creators, not just media consumers.

I hope everyone’s Teen Tech Week was amazing and look forward to a year of new and exciting things to learn!