During October a small group of YALSA bloggers will post ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #2.
Library Thing is all about building community around reading. Readers “catalog” books and tag them using terms and phrases that relate to themes as well as to the thoughts and feelings that a particular title brings to a reader. Teens can catalog the books in their own libraries or they could create personal Library Thing entries of anything that they read.(Books they borrow from friends, the library, etc.) By cataloging their reading in Library Thing teens get to articulate their thoughts and feelings. It’s a great opportunity to for teens to express themselves simply through single words and short phrases.
Cataloging content is only one of the amazing parts of Library Thing. Anyone who visits the site can learn about titles in a particular genre, with a particular theme, with a certain type of character, and so on. It’s a great tool to use when creating “more like this” lists and to connect with readers with similar interests. A teen in one library might discover someone in another community who has similar reading interests. The two could exchange interesting titles through the Library Thing catalog.
The tag clouds on Library Thing provide interesting visuals of popular authors and themes. Librarians might challenge teens to have an impact on the tag clouds by adding titles by authors or on themes they like. Teen Advisory Groups could work together on adding titles and challenge each other to expand and change the Library Thing tag clouds.
If DOPA passes sites like Library Thing won’t be available to teens in school and public libraries. That means librarians won’t be able to work with teens as effectively to help them describe their thoughts and feelings related to reading. And a great opportunity to build reader community will be lost.