Teen Tech Week at the Eagle Valley Library District

We had a VERY busy TTW in the Eagle Valley Library District! Our Library District includes 3 branches in Eagle County, CO, serving an area that encompasses everything from the ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek to cattle ranches and very small towns (but no big cities).

We spent our mornings and early afternoons this week doing presentations to almost every 8th grader in the Eagle County School District (241 kids in 11 classes) on how to access and use our numerous online databases for research. We also explained about audiobooks and downloadable eaudiobooks, and gave them each a booklet of all of the teen titles we have in each format.

Additionally, we were fortunate that singer/songwriter/recording artist Kathy Moser, who is from Pennsylvania, was going to be in our area this week and had some time to fit in a songwriting and recording program for each of our 3 branches. She has a portable recording studio, using the Garage Band program, to record songs to which the teens themselves write the lyrics. Kathy has the kids do almost everything, from running the computer to adding some of the background sounds. This time she called her program “Living in the Digital Age” and had them write lyrics about both good and bad aspects of technology. She also had a conversation with them in which she brought up the effects on the environment, both good and bad, of technology. Even the shyest teens were enticed to join in the rap recording, all 3 of which can be heard on Kathy’s MySpace page

Gypsum’s lyrics

I check my myspace everyday
just to see what my friends say

even though my friend’s page is really stacked
my myspace keeps getting hacked
one thing you can say about hackers
they work like dogs, they ain’t no slackers
my computer’s soooo sloooooooow
I just want to kill it, to make it go

Eagle’s Lyrics

So Much information is such a frustration
everything is digital for our generation
I-pod, cellphone, Blackberry, laptop
smaller, faster, coming to the shop
gigabyte, megabyte, touch screen, touch screen, what a sight
internet connecting, texting all night
fits in your pocket- take it anywhere
with all those screens, all you do is stare

Each library also had individual programs. At the Avon Library teens will spend this afternoon eating pizza and watching the movie “School of Rock”; the Eagle Library teens were given a music trivia scavenger hunt to do for a prize; and at the Gypsum Library the teens created their own anime music videos (AMVs) and showed them at a Teen Night Thursday night. The AMVs ran the gamut from drama and love stories to comedy, and were amazing. These take a lot of patience, creativity, and knowledge of anime. We plan to expand on this and create an AMV club this spring.

We want to give a HUGE thank you to YALSA and Dungeons and Dragons for the mini-grant that allowed us to fit so much programming into the week!

Julie Richards, Teen Services Librarian, Eagle Valley Library District


Recently, on the Buzz Out Loud podcast there were discussions about the use of LOL when the person using that in an email, text message, etc. is actually LOI (laughing on the inside.) Interestingly enough, the discussion went on over several days and several episodes of the podcast. As the hosts, and those who sent feedback to the show, talked about the way these acronyms are used, it became clear that acronyms of this kind do not get used without putting text into context and doing some critical thinking about the message being sent.

The podcast discussions were all humorous and not totally serious, but, they still got me thinking. So many times adults that don’t use texting or IM complain about the demise of the English language because people are using acronyms instead of full words and phrases. (I have blogged about this before.) But, listening to the Buzz Out Loud discussions it was clear that using these acronyms is not something that happens in a vacuum. And, at times, when the right acronym is not available a new one has to be created. Is it a bad thing if teens actually create new language to fill in when what’s actually available just doesn’t meet their needs?

When adding LOL, LOI, COL, or others to a communication, the writer has to think about which one to use. Is it really that I’m LOL or am I really LOI? Maybe I’m COL? Of course it’s probably pretty rare that one is ROTFL when using that acronym, but the point about what the writer is thinking is pretty clearly made when that set of letters is selected.

What if you talked with teens about how they make choices about the acronyms they use when creating a message to a friend or family member? Do they think about their choices? Do they make different choices based on who they are communicating with? Have they ever created their own acronyms in order to meet a specific need, emotion, or thought? What would you find out about the thought process involved in using acornyms in text, chat, and so on?

BTW, COL stands for chuckling out loud. I’d never heard that one before and the person that sent it in on Buzz Out Loud, mentioned that she and her friends made it up to meet their specific purposes. Anything wrong with that?

Tweens & Cell phone usage.

In September of ’06 I wrote a post about using cell phones to access the web. Today Nielson released a report about the cell phone habits of tweens, that I wanted to share as a follow up to that post.

While most of the report shouldn’t be surprising, what struck me is that it said 5% of those age 8-12 (tweens) used their cell phones to access the internet monthly. Most of the articles I’ve read have also been stating that tweens aren’t using the internet as much as their teen counterparts, however they are frequent downloaders. There is a trend to download not only music, but TV shows.

What does this mean for libraries? Has any library created a catalog search for a cell phone? Is there a library out there where I can place a hold from my phone?

Official Report

* 35% of tweens own a mobile phone.
* 20% of tweens have used text messaging.
* 21% of tweens have used ring & answer tones.
* 5% of tweens access the Internet over their phone each month.

* 41% of tween mobile Internet users say they access the web while commuting or traveling (to school, for example

* 6% of tween mobile Internet users say they access the web while at a friend’s house and
* 17% of tween mobile Internet users say they access the web on their phones at social events.

* 58% of tweens who download or watch TV on their phone do so at home;
* 64% of tweens who download or play music on their phone do so at home;
* 56% of tweens who access the Internet on their phone do so at home.

Teens Don’t T9

On a recent MacBreak Weekly podcast, host Leo Leporte’s teenage son, Henry, was in the studio. While the roundtable of MAC aficionados talked about a variety of tech topics, listeners kept hearing the refrain, “What” from the teenager in the room. The “what” was in relation to the topics the adults discussed which didn’t always resonate with the teen.

One thing that jumped out was when texting using T9 came up. T9 refers to the predictive ability of text messaging programs on cell phones. It allows users to type in letters with the phone keypad without having to click on each letter more than once in order to get to the letter wanted. The cell phone predicts from the combination of clicks which letter the user really wants and makes the word work – if it’s in the cell phone’s dictionary.

When the adults talked about T9, Henry, who seems to be a heavy text messenger, was clueless. Teens don’t need predictive text. Their fingers simply know how many times to press each key in order to get the letters needed. T9 is faster for older people but not so fast for the generation that grew up with texting.

This was another reminder of how important it is to check-in with teens about technology use. T9 may seem like the only way to go for adults, and they might assume that teens think the same. Not. How many times do adults assume that they way they use technology is the same way that teens use technology? Even if we know there are differences, do we let assumptions and our own behaviors rule our decisions about teen technology use?

Hearing Henry on the podcast was also a reminder of the greatness of being able to hear real teen voices talk about what’s important to them. It actually doesn’t matter that Henry doesn’t live in the same part of the country as the listener. He’s a teen who has things to say and the things he has to say are interesting to hear. What if more teen voices were heard in podcasts? What if teens and adults joined in podcast roundtables in which they talked about various topics of interest and exchanged similar and differing views? That would make for great listening.

Of course there are some teen podcasts – library and non-library – already, including:

Podcasting is a great way to give teens the opportunity to get their voice heard. Check out Henry’s voice on MacBreak Weekly and then see what you can do to get your own teen’s voices out to the world.

All About Cell Phones

An article in today’s New York Times titled Social Networking Leaves Confines of the Computer, once again highlights the importance of libraries recognizing the role cell phones play in the lives of teens. The focus of the article is on mobile services that allow teens, and others, to stay in contact even when the computer is off. These services take text messaging to the next level.

The article states:

…Such services have the same addictive appeal for young people as BlackBerrys do for busy professionals, said Howard Hartenbaum, a partner at the venture capital firm Draper Richards, which is an investor in Kyte.

And then goes on to quote Hartenbaum:

“Kids want to be connected to their friends at all times,” Mr. Hartenbaum said. “They can’t do that when you turn off the computer.”

How many libraries do you know that are connecting to teens via the devices teens hold in their hands? How many libraries do you know that have been able to move beyond connecting to teens in the library and classroom and have been able to connect using technology at all? How many libraries are willing to take the next step and focus on technologies that teens want to use as opposed to the technologies librarians feel comfortable with?

One thing to remember about the new mobile technologies discussed in The New York Times article. They are free. If you send a text message to teens via Twitter or Kyte you don’t pay a cent in texting or software fees. What’s not to like in that? Remember, even if the teens might be using a cell phone or other handheld device to read your message and send a message to you – you can still be on your computer. (Or not depending on which works best for you.)

Not only do librarians have to get out from behind their desks in order to serve teens effectively. (I know lots of teen librarians know that part already.) But, they also have to get out from behind the focus on the web site, databases, and catalog. Those things don’t resonate with teens so why use them? Well, maybe it should be, they don’t resonate with teens so why use them as the first entree to connect with teens?

Cell phones will continue to gain more and more functionality and librarians have to keep up with these trends in order to make sure they know how to communicate with and connect with teens. Check out todays’ New York Times article to get yourself going.

Text messaging champion

This past Saturday, in New York, a thirteen year old claimed the title of US Texting Champion and $25,000. Messages were viewed on an overhead screen, quickly texted and whomever reached the judge first with correct punctuation in message, won.

What a great library program idea (well, maybe not that much prize money!) and a good way to acknowledge teens literacy skills. Check out this book, Teens, Technology and Literacy; Or, Why Bad Grammar Isn’t Always Bad by Linda Braun for more on this topic.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Cingular Teaches Parents How to Text

Cingular Wireless is trying to bridge this gap. The company, the largest cellphone carrier in the United States, will hold a series of interactive “texting bees” around the country early next year to teach parents how to send text messages to their children. The promotion is a way to increase sales, of course. But the company contends that its campaign will help parents get to know their sons and daughters by teaching them teenage slang and the advantages of texting over making phone calls, sending e-mail or simply having a conversation.

That’s from a New York Times article that was published yesterday. (A Parent’s Guide to Teenspeak) It talked about parents not knowing how to read teen text messages, and it also looked at whether or not parents should be up on what their teens are saying via texting. Educators weighed in on whether or not children and teens should be able to have their own language via texting as a way to retain privacy and individuate. Others said that parents should know so they understand what their teens are doing.

As I read the article I thought this is exactly the kind of thing that librarians are trying to work through with teens and their parents. How far do we go to support teen interests by being a part of those interests. How much do we stay away so teens have the chance to have some privacy and individuality? Is it OK to learn the technology in order to understand what’s going on with teenagers as long as we don’t over-step and usurp that technology? And, then of course, there’s the question, shouldn’t librarians be teaching parents about text messaging instead of Cingular doing the teaching? Or, shouldn’t librarians work with cell phone companies to help them teach parents?

Teens and cell phones survey

In support of Jami’s recent post on the blog regarding web phones and teens, online wireless retailer LetsTalk has published the results of an August 2006 survey of over 1,200 US teenagers, ages 10-18, on their use of cell phones. Texting ranked the highest feature of the cell phone(above camera and video).

This reminds me of an article I’ve mentioned before- Linda Braun’s VOYA 2005 article on Playing Keep Up with Emerging Technologies which talks about text messaging in libraries.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki