Posted by YALSA Member Michele Gorman:

Here is a question for the VP/President Candidates:

What’s your favorite emerging technology and how do you see that kind of technology impacting service to teens in the future? How should YALSA address the training issues related to teen services librarians and new technologies in a sustainable, ongoing way?

I think this is a very important topic because we are dealing with a new generation of learners who have been raised in a digital world. I want to know how the YALSA president is going to address this shift so that we, as an association, are leading our profession in terms of meeting the technological needs of our teen patrons.

3 Thoughts on “Technology Questions for VP/Pres Candidates

  1. paula brehm heeger [Visitor] on February 16, 2006 at 3:18 pm said:

    Hi Michele! Thanks for taking the time to ask an excellent set of questions.

    I’ve made a conscious decision in the last year to seriously incorporate new and emerging technologies into my life in a big way. As information professionals – especially information professionals working with teens –it is our responsibility to not only be comfortable with technology, but to embrace it and consistently consider ways we can harness it to improve, expand and enhance the service we deliver to our teens. For them, solutions and conveniences realized through the use of technology aren’t unique or noteworthy. It’s what they expect. Our libraries may not be ready or able at this moment to move forward with the coolest technology ideas, but we should start educating ourselves now so that we’ll be in a position to give informed, reliable input when opportunities do come down the road. And I believe these opportunities will come!

    The steps I’ve taken to get serious about technology have really helped me understand technology in a new, more intuitive way. These basic steps include upgrading to a laptop, setting up a wireless network at home, purchasing an ipod, working with itunes on a regular basis, uploading photos to a Flickr account, setting up a myspace account, listening to podcasts on satellite radio, IMing more regularly and texting people from my cell. I’ve asked my teens for help on a number of these issues, including their help in setting up the predictive text function on my cell (man, does that make texting easier!!) My favorite technology, though, has to be web access from my cell phone. I use this all the time to read news websites, check sports scores and generally to be entertained and informed at any time, any place.

    It is vital for teen librarians to have a solid working familiarity with these kinds of knowledge transfer tools. I love that YALSA is offering an online training course that addresses the issue of emerging technology. I loved that this year’s midwinter preconference offered a hands on experience with gaming (even though my “guitar hero” skills left a lot to be desired). Talk about remaining vital to our members!

    In the short-term, YALSA must play a central role in providing resources and tools that help our members help themselves when it comes to mastering new technologies. We should encourage people to look at a variety of resources beyond library literature – like PC Magazine, PC World and their round-ups of the newest, coolest stuff out there – and create avenues for sharing this broader picture about technology. Long-term, I believe YALSA should consider options for helping members take the personal leap into technology. This blog is a great example. It was the catalyst that motivated me to experiment with feeds in a serious way, setting up SAGE, a feed reader for Firefox, which I use on my home laptop, to track comments and posts. That is just the kind of opportunity YALSA should be providing to members.

    Technology may not be the only important issue for the future of libraries, but it is way up there. YALSA taking the lead in helping members understand, value and embrace technology – personally and professionally – is the kind of service that translates into continues sustainability and relevance for our Division.

  2. I love the gadgets that have sprung up over the last couple of years and am completely enamored with my Palm Treo 650 (email, MP3, e-books, audiobooks, games, text messenger, web surfing, calendar, video camera, camera, MS Office documents, phone and more). I think the all-in-one type of gadget similar to the Treo is going to be the gadget of not-to-distant future for teens. Whether this be a Treo, a further expanded version of the Ipod, or something else I think it has tremendous potential. I think libraries need to make their services available in formats that are supported by such gadgets. Teens are going to expect to be able to download books, music, and audiobooks onto these units. They are going to want to access 24/7 library services via these units. They may not want to come into our buildings, but utilize our services none the less…if we make our services accessible.

    I also think that another technology issue might turn My Space, Xanga, and similar sites into a more interactive realm for teens. I can envision a related service that allows to teens to speak, chat, IM, and see each other at the same time. I experienced something similar a couple of years ago when I was enrolled in a graduate distance education program. The technological requirements of this master’s program required a daily does of exposure o cutting edge technologies. Some of our classes were held live over the web and it was fantastic. Think about the library programs, and partnerships we could develop with such technology at our fingertips…

    But that is the problem that the profession, and along with it, YALSA, faces. Too many libraries don’t have the money or the resources to provide the types of technology that teens are wanting and using. I know of small town Ohio school systems that only have a single laptop projector for the entire district…much less using or exposing teens to the technology of today. Many public libraries are in a similar situation; most are certainly not loaning out Ipod shuffles as I know some are doing. Not only is there a digital divide within society, but within our profession as well.

    This makes the challenge of serving YALSA’s members all the more difficult, but Michele is right. We have to lead in this area because our teens are on the leading edge and we need to meet their needs. How can YALSA do this? First, it can offer a consistent stream of conference programming, preconferences, institutes (the gaming program was a great first step), publications, and online learning focused on technology. If nothing else, this exposes our members to the trends and interests of teens…even if their own libraries cannot afford the technology for their customers.

    Next, YALSA needs to be an early adopter of technological trends. YALSA finally has a blog…the one you’re reading…but blogs aren’t leading edge for teens anymore. Since the “larger” ALA isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of technology, the division is oftentimes limited in what it is able to do, and right now, division finances and staffing are issues in preventing YALSA from leading this area and going it alone. One of the charges that was issued to the Communications Task Force which I am chairing is to develop a framework for YALSA to follow in adopting such technologies. Hopefully, our final recommendations will allow my term as president to be the year that YALSA turns the corner and becomes the leader in this area and fulfills the hopes Michele has. I know YALSA can lead our members ALA in this effort.

  3. Paula and Allen – thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I have no doubt that YALSA is heading in the right direction, with regards to bringing technology to the forefront of our profession. -Michele

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