During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and
information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and
libraries. Here’s positive use #6.

The fact that social networking can be done in a library, might be stating
the obvious. However, if DOPA passes, the library as a relevant place for teens will be significantly effected.

The Library as a place where social networking can occur is also important
for another reason. As Beth Gallaway’s MySpace? YourSpace? WhoseSpace? post indicated, “Banning isn’t the answer. Educating is.” How effective are libraries going to be to empower teens in making good online choices if the tools to do so can’t be used, accessed, or played with in a library?

In a May 2006 interview about
DOPA, Henry Jenkins stated, “These sites play a key role in youth culture

because they give youth a space to hang out amongst friends and peers, share cultural artifacts (like links to funny websites, comments about TV shows) and work out an image of how they see themselves.”

Giving youth a space to hang out, to share, to work out their identity-is
this not already part of what we do to serve their needs with our programs and services? It only makes sense then that libraries continue to be a place where not only can social networking tools be accessed, but helped to be used creatively and responsibly.

DOPA is pretty good at pointing to ‘that predator’ which might conjure up images of an adult preying on children that need to be protected. But what about teens that are using social networking tools to be hurtful to one
another? Sending threatening text messages to one another, sharing email
passwords and then changing them in order to force control over another, or
teens using cell phones to monitor each others whereabouts every minute of
the day. In the context of dating violence among teens, use of these

technologies in this way is prevalent.

Again, the Library as place to give teens the tools to use social networking positively, know when the tools are being used inappropriately and what they can do about it is important.

Banning their use in a school or public library is not going to empower teens and make issues of power and control with social networking go away.

If DOPA is passed, many teens will not find the library to be a relevant space
for their needs nor a place that can help them through this increasingly
interactive digital world.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

One Thought on “Positive Use of Social Networking #6 – It can be done in a library

  1. I couldn’t have said it any better. Social networking sites give teens an virtual place to act where it is usually easier for them to develop an image of themselves. In fact, many times it helps them focus more on who they are rather than what they look like. It offers more creative expression than any other past teen gathering space. The possibilities of social networking in our culture and in the library are just now emerging, and DOPA seeks to stifle this opportunity in its infancy.

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