Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usShare your celebrations for the freedom to read! On Eye4You Alliance Island in Teen Second Life, we have a pirate ship and are going to have a ‘Dress (your avatar) as Your Favorite Banned Book Character’ (thanks to librarian Jami Schwarzwalder for the idea). Librarians, teens, and educators will be on the ship throughout the week and we are working on creating book covers and information about bbw. See the press release from ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. Please share your celebrations and add them to the ilovelibraries interactive map: http://ilovelibraries.org/news/bbw/findevents.cfm!

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

I finally got around to reading Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. Basically, the book details how recent revolutions in the development, production, and distribution of consumer goods are creating a whole new way to organize markets. In these markets, scarcity becomes a non-issue and consumers are presented with unparalleled choice. Technologies are then connect shoppers to items off the beaten path, so to speak, creating a scenario where almost every book, movie, song, etc. is bought or accessed at least once.

Nowhere does this seem more evident than music. Teens tune into iTunes, torrents, music blogs, file uploading sites, and social networking to have access to an unprecedented amount of access than ever before (legally or otherwise). As a result, it’s hard to imagine even the most obscure niche musician without some fanbase. It got me wondering: when was the last time I talked to teens about music beyond telling them what we had in the collection? I used to a lot, before I got burnt out trying to keep up with the million bands, singers, and rap artists that I had never heard–let alone heard of–before.

It also got me thinking about how much teens love the process of discovering new things. It lets them be a tastemaker, the first person to, say, hear about Dr. Steel and start spreading the news to friends. Or it lets them keep it secret, giving them a sense of their own unique identity and interests.

So, are you including surprises in your music collection? Are you giving teens the opportunity to discover new and underground artists? You might find them on Elbo.ws, The Hype Machine, the Last.fm hype list, the Myspace Music page, or even the Alternative Teen Music Podcast. Or you might try talking to the teens themselves, finding out their means of discovering new music, and doing a little detective work from there. Then add these artists to your collection, and see what kind of interest you pique.

Hello:
I’m getting ready to teach the YALSA Competencies Live! Online class again. I really enjoyed teaching this one in the spring, and met some really amazing people.

The YALSA Competencies are a set of standards for our profession that cover all areas of serving young adults, from collection to spaces to programming. The class introduces students to each topic, and then the students have to take that knowledge and apply it to forming a YA plan for their own situation. For the spaces section, for example, students have to identify low cost and long term goals for the teen pleasure reading space in the public or school library.

By the end of the six week class, students have a completed YA Plan covering all the topics from the competencies. It is great for folks new to the profession and also those looking to take their current services to the next level.

I saw some amazing and inspiring plans in the spring and am looking forward to this group of students. Honestly, it made me reevaluate some of my own Teen Services at the Schaumburg Twp. Dist. Library!

The class begins 10/1, but there are still a few spaces available. Contact Nichole Gilbert at YALSA at ngilbert@ala.org if you are interested in joining.
-Amy Alessio aalessio@stdl.org

The Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) recently published the 2007 study on undergraduate use of technology. This report looks at student ownership of technology, along with student use and skill with information technology. Students were also asked questions about the implications of technology on their studies and access to content.

There are several findings discussed in the report with implications for librarians working with teens. They include:

  • Ownership of portable technology continues to grow. In 2005, 52.8% of students surveyed owned a laptop. In 2007, that number increased to 75.8%. An even bigger increase is seen in ownership of portable media devices (iPods for example.) In 2005, just 30.7% or students surveyed owned this kind of device. In 2007, the percentage was 74.7. It’s important to note that these are students from a variety of backgrounds and walks-of-life. Students from a variety of socio-economic groups bring to their undergraduate program portable devices.
  • The report states that a majority of students use technology as a communications tool, particularly IM and email. However the report also found that high percentages of the students surveyed (94.7%) use an institutional library as a resource.
  • While not many students used podcasts regularly, those who took courses in which podcasts were a part of the learning rated these additions to their courses highly. The report notes that students stated that instructors that used podcasts as a way to supplement and expand on learning found these to be very useful to their studies. This positive attitude is perhaps a demonstration of teen familiarity, interest, and use of online video and audio. (For example, YouTube, iTunes like services, etc.) This statistic perhaps helps demonstrate that students are interested in having access to multimedia content that supports their learning.
  • The report authors write, “Interestingly, a solid half (53.3%) like to learn through programs they can control such as simulations or video games.” The authors go on to note that this is important data to consider as more and more institutions think about adding $ for resources that help students learn via games and simulations. It will be interesting to see how, and if, this number grows over the next year to two years.
  • Students stated that they prefer to use social networking tools as a part of their social lives and not as a part of their coursework. Looking at the findings it seems that this is because, understandably, students want to keep their private lives private from instructors and advisors. What does this say about libraries connecting to students via these formats? Does it mean it’s not a good idea or does it mean that libraries need to realize that these connections have to walk a thin line between intrusion and information? Is it different to connect to students with social networking technologies in a library context than in an instructor/advisor context?

The above bullet points are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the data in the report that is of use to librarians serving teens. Of course early college students are still teens, but, even more importantly, the data about these undergraduate students can inform about the activities, interests, and preferred ways of using technology and accessing information of younger teens as well. If undergraduate students arrive at college with technology knowledge, skills, expectations, and hardware/software, that means that these students need to get support for each of these before they arrive at an institution of higher ed. The public and school library are definitely places to support teens and their technology expectations and uses before they get to college.

I’m at a library conference outside of the US. There was a speaker this morning that in one part of his presentation said, “I don’t even know that it’s worth trying to get teens into the library anymore.” I asked him to explain that comment further during the Q/A. I thought, okay-maybe I misunderstood as in didn’t quite hear correctly or was interpreting it in a way that wasn’t intended. He went on to explain that many libraries are seen as ‘nerdy’ and basically irrelevant to teens and that they get their information elsewhere anyways. We talked a bit after his presentation and he asked, ‘is it the job of the library to pick up where an education system has failed and left off?’ in regards to providing services to teenagers. I told him that I disagreed with this way of thinking and how could we just decide that a whole segment of a population doesn’t have value worth providing relevant services for? Perhaps there was still some kind of misunderstanding from not being in the same country but for the most part, the message was that teenagers just don’t have as much worth as younger kids or adults. While his opinions certainly weren’t representative fortunately, since several people told me of the strong teen programs that had at their library. When someone came up to me and said, ‘You know, I’ve heard Patrick Jones speak before, and I know he would disagree with the comment that teens aren’t worth bringing into the library,’-I knew it was more than just a translation problem and I’m glad I said something.
Every day that we serve teens in our libraries, we’re standing up for their needs. Is it often that we’re challenged to defend what we’re doing? Perhaps, yes. You’re not alone. Feel free to share your stories.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

A few weeks ago I realized I was in a podcast rut. The podcasts I listen to and view just didn’t seem as exciting to me as they used to seem. In some cases I’d been subscribing to the same podcast for over two years. I needed a change.

So, I went on the hunt for new podcasts. I decided to try iFanboy. It’s a video podcast about comics and graphic novels. Something I know about, am interested in, but am far from expert on. I thought I would subscribe and see if it is interesting enough to keep watching. Well, it’s my new favorite video podcast. Recent episodes included a discussion of comics and graphic novels that focus on real-life stories; an interview with the author of DMZ, Brian Wood, and author/internet copyright & privacy advocate Cory Doctorow at ComiCon; and an email mail bag show in which the best question asked was from a 14-year-old. (He asked the hosts of iFanboy to talk about who they would choose to write and draw the story of their lives in comic version.)

iFanboy is definitely a good way to learn about comics and graphic novels. (The hosts also do a weekly audio podcast on new comic/graphic novel releases for the week.)

Mixing up my podcast viewing and listening got me thinking in general about the ruts one can get into. It’s easy to get into a rut when it comes to entertainment and learning. And, it’s easy to get in a rut in the work we do as librarians with teens, and in general. Many times librarians tell me that they can’t see a how they can add a new technology-based program or service because their days are already busy. No doubt that’s true. But, how many times are these busy days filled with things done simply because it’s how it’s always been done? How many times are the busy days filled with rut-like activities? If things get shaken up a little, isn’t it possible that instead of having more to do the new activity will take the place of an old activity? (When I hunted down new podcasts I replaced some I’d subscribed to previously with the new shows.)

iFanboy helped to get me out of my listening and viewing rut. I’m going to make sure that other ruts I’m in are given a good shake. I’m looking forward to finding some new ways of doing things (when/where required) that are just as interesting and exciting s iFanboy.

Recently, I read the book, Mutant Message Down Under: Message From Forever by Marlo Morgan (Cliff Street Books 1998). which was the story of a woman who walked with the aboriginals in Australia and learned the wisdom of the tribes. Beatrice learns about names from her aborigninal friend.

“You can be called by any name you want. Your name is how you want the world to address you. It reminds you of any specific issue you are giving attention to on this portion of your spiritual path. My name, for instance, Benalal, meaning brown duck, was chosen because I have been too serious most of my life. There must be a balance between lessons and play. I admire the duck’s ability just to float for the fun of it…”

It reminds me of when teens have avatars. Whether it’s through Habbo Hotel, Whyville, or SecondLife, rather than facing a crisis of who their ‘real’ vs. ‘not real’ self is, I think they are creating a self based on their developmental stage. It’s a self that is about a specific issue they are giving attention to. When I read articles about teens who have avatars and that they must be identifying with something more fake then real, it makes me ask the question, what is real? who is defining what is real? Creating an avatar is a safe way to explore what issue teens are giving attention to at this moment.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Yesterday I learned that ALA is trying something new when it comes to conference registration. Until the end of this month (September) those who register for Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference at the same time receive a discount on the bundled registration. While it’s a pretty good chunk of money to shell out all at once, there are a couple of advantages. First, you get the whole thing done right now. I’m always forgetting to register for these things and by the time I do – the price has gone up. If I register for the whole thing now it now I don’t have to remember for another year. Second, there is a discount, you are paying less for both conferences than if you registered for the two separately.

You can find out more about the bundled registration rate on the ALA Midwinter Meeting Web Site.

Speaking of the Midwinter Meeting it’s not to early to start thinking about YALSA activities at the Meeting. The YALSA web site already has a few things listed for the meeting including:

  • A full-day advocacy institute which gives participants the tools they need to advocate for teens in the community.
  • A Gaming Extravaganza – the third annual YALSA Gaming Night (which is new and improved this year.)
  • The Youth Media Awards where attendees get to hear the announcements of the Printz, Margaret Edwards, and Alex Awards.

There’s more in store for midwinter attendees keep checking the YALSA web site and the blog for updates and information.

In this YALSA podcast Devo Carpenter of the Austin Public Library talks about the Second Chance Books project one of the winners of the most recent Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults project.

The Second Chance Books Project is a collaboration between the Austin Public Library and the Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center.

In this podcast Carpenter talks about the impact of the program on teens in the detention center and gives a few tips on how librarians in other locations might start a similar program.

Listen