There’s been a bit of buzz over the past week about being able to create ringtones for the iPhone. Many of the adults I’ve heard discussing this topic have questioned the value of this service from Apple which requires one to pay about $2.00 – 99 cents for the song and 99 cents to make it into a ringtone.

Listening to these discussions and thinking about these ringtones, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a colleague a couple of years ago on the topic of buying ringtones. I was saying that I didn’t understand why teens were so into it. Then I was embarrassed by my lack of teen-like thinking when my colleague said to me something like, “But Linda, ringtones are a part of identity for teens.”

The light bulb went on. It made total sense. Who a teen is, at any given moment, can be very well demonstrated by the ringtones on a cell phone. Cell phone ringtones give teens the chance to explain to the world, through music, something about themselves. Not only that, by creating ringtones for incoming calls from friends and family, teens give musical personalities to those friends and family members.

While $2.00 might seem like a crazy amount to spend to buy something that perhaps one shouldn’t have to pay for, for many teens the $ is well worth it. It’s another opportunity to express themselves.

Think about this too. The Apple iTunes software gives teens the chance to select what clip(s) from a song to use for the ring tone. The Apple software isn’t the only one to provide this capability – just the one in the news at the moment. But, think about the skill it takes to listen to a song and select just the right 15 seconds to express yourself. That takes some thought. Also, maybe the 15 seconds a teen uses today is a different 15 seconds she would select yesterday or next week. Maybe the ring tone used today is entirely different than the one used tomorrow, next week, or next month.

Are there programs and services the library might provide related to ringtones? Libraries do sponsor programs that connect to creating and sharing playlists, but what about creating and sharing ringtones? Would a program in which teens tried to match a ringtone with the peer who made it work? Or, what if teens created playlists based on ring tones? What if contest prizes were ringtone gift certificates? There are some definite possibilities.

Thinking about ringtones over the past week reminds me once again of how important it is to remember to look at library and world events from a teen perspective. As an adult, spending money on ring tones might not make sense. But, from a teen point of view, it’s often a whole different story.

News and More from the YALSA Office

Get the Word Out for Teen Read Week! Now that you’ve registered for Teen Read Week (and if you haven’t, you’ve got less than a week until registration closes), you’re probably wondering: What can I do in the meantime? Use this next month to publicize your celebration and tell everyone about Teen Read Week! These thirteen steps will have you ready to LOL @ your library.

Teen Read Week PR Checklist

  1. There is a TRW display in my library.
  2. TRW is featured on my library’s web site, blog and/or MySpace page
  3. Information about TRW is in my library’s fall newsletter
  4. I’ve posted announcements, fliers, and brochures all over my library: along shelves, at each checkout station, and bulletin boards. (Tip: Want a great, ready-made poster that you can easily print on any printer? Check out the Print PSAs on the Teen Read Week Web site’s Get Publicity page)
  5. At my school, I asked to include TRW activities and information in the daily announcements.
  6. All library staff are knowledgeable about my library’s TRW activities.
  7. Relevant local organizations have been informed about TRW and your library’s TRW activities, such as the community center, 4-H club, area schools, parent organizations, etc.
  8. Local VIPs such as town council members and/or state legislators, have been invited to attend any special TRW events.
  9. Local media outlets such as newspapers, radio stations and TV stations have been informed about TRW and your library’s TRW activities via a press release (see the TRW Web site for samples). You can also ask your local newspaper to print one of YALSA’s PSAs (follow the directions at the Get Publicity page!)
  10. My Teen Advisory Group (TAG) is involved in promoting TRW by writing letters to the editor, making a commercial for the public access channel, designing and posting flyers, creating and uploading a short informational video for YouTube, etc.
  11. I or my TAG have asked my town council and/or state’s governor to declare Oct. 14-20th, 2007 Teen Read Week in my town or state (see a sample proclamation on the TRW Web site).
  12. I have designated a member of my TAG or someone to be the photographer at my TRW events, and I will distribute the photos by posting them on the library’s web site or Flickr account, sending them to the local newspaper and sending them to American Libraries at americanlibraries@ala.org.
  13. I went to the Teen Read Week wiki and shared my library’s plans so others can be inspired by my ideas and my celebration can be shared by ALA publications or the Public Information Office for promotional use.

Praise for Get Connected! Get Connected: Tech Programs for Teens by RoseMary Honnold for YALSA earned rave reviews!

From School Library Journal‘s September issue: “This book is a great resource for starting Library 2.0 to connect with teens, whether you are working on your own, with a technology integrator, or within the community.”

From VOYA‘s October issue: “This book is, without question, the one that every young adult librarian needs to add to their professional reading stack this year.”

YALSA Periodicals Survey: Tell Us What You Think! How do you feel about YALSA’s periodicals? Let us know by taking the YALSA Periodicals Survey, created by the Editorial Advisory Board.

Every Tuesday, check back to the YALSA Blog for a rundown of news and updates from the YALSA Office. Send your questions and comments to Stevie Kuenn, YALSA Communications Specialist, at skuenn@ala.org

One of the great things about PPYA is that it gives you a chance to finally read some of those titles that you never quite got to when they first came out, even though they were always in the back of your mind. I’ve recently (finally!) read and enjoyed Keeper by Mal Peet, and Black and White by Paul Volponi for our sports related sub-committee “Get Your Game On”. Here’s the link to the list of currently nominated titles:

http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/booklistsawards/popularpaperback/nominations.htm#game
Finding Miracles Alvarez, and Zigzag by Ellen Wittlinger were standouts for our “What Makes A Family?” list, which can be found here:
http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/booklistsawards/popularpaperback/nominations.htm#family One that I really liked that might not have crossed my desk otherwise is Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley.

PPYA also provides an opportunity to read outside of your comfort and interest zone. In the past year I’ve read more manga than I ever imagined, several books on NASCAR, and way too many fiction books on wrestling. I’ve slogged through Seabiscuit by listening to it as I painted the guest bedroom in our new house. On the flip side, I got to reread Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and Sonya Sones’ One of those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies and savor them all over again.

I came home from my first ALA as a PPYA member completely jazzed about this committee. I raved to my husband about how great it had been to sit around a table with a bunch of other librarians and just talk about books for hours and hours. For some strange reason, he didn’t see anything particularly exciting about this. Go figure!…

Susan Person
PPYA committee member

Fall is often the time when high school students really start thinking about where they are headed for college. Teens and their parents (and teens and their friends) take trips to visit campuses to find out what life is like at a particular institution.

In October teens can check out colleges and college life by participating in the college fair in Teen Second Life at the Teen Second Life Library. Teens involved in the Teen Second Life Library are helping to plan the event, including building the environment in which the fair will take place. Colleges from around the country are signing up to participate in the fair and to get a chance to discuss what their institution has to offer.

Virtual environments are still difficult for many of us to get our heads around. I talk with librarians and library school students all the time and they question what the value of these environments is in real life. This college fair is a perfect example of what a virtual environment can offer teens. Teens who aren’t able to visit a college across the country to find out what’s available at the institution can now talk to representatives in Teen Second Life. Teens who want to be involved in planning this kind of event, but don’t have the opportunity in their own school, can do so in Teen Second Life.

The Teen Second Life College Fair is one more resource to inform teens, who are planning for life after high school, about. It’s not going to be the way that all of the teens in your community learn about colleges. But, it might be the perfect way for a few of them to expand their horizons. You can learn more about the college fair – which will be held on October 20 and 21 – on the Eye4You Alliance blog.

With apologies to David Letterman, here are the top ten reasons why YOU shoud register for TRW:

10. So you know that TRW stands for TEEN READ WEEK and not something, well, less motivating for your teens…

9. Because the theme will give you all something to smile about in this campaign season. LOL @ YOUR LIBRARY is the 2007 theme.

8. Because you might win an author visit (see details at the web site)…

7. So that you get a free book courtesy of Scholastic

6. and if you hurry you can get a free audio version of a Printz or ALEX winner, too

5. and a chance at other giveaways (details at the web site).

4. So that you can offer some new programs for your teens…

3. not to mention the free screensaver featuring Wrestlemania

2. and the wiki and the free publicity. But most of all because…

1. YALSA makes it easy. Just visit the web site: http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/teenreading/teenreading.htm

Posted by Teri Lesesne

Last week NBC announced that after December their TV shows will no longer be available via iTunes. Since that announcement several podcasts that I listen to have talked about this and have mentioned they think it’s a bad move for NBC Why are podcasters saying it’s a bad move? Partly because there’s the idea that it’s better to be in lots of different places – iTunes, Amazon UnBox, etc. rather than limiting yourself to one “store” only.

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of teens and libraries. Isn’t it better for teen librarians to be available to teens in lots of different places – maybe providing the same service using different techniques in each place? Does this concept of being in more than one place mean that teen librarians need to have Facebook AND MySpace accounts, Twitter AND Pownce feeds, a presence on the library web site, text messaging AND IM presences, a blog, YouTube videos AND Flickr photos, and so on?

Seems a bit overwhelming doesn’t it? And, of course, NBC and other major corporations can more easily, and successfully, be in more than one place in order to serve all segments of their target audience. In most cases teen library staff aren’t going to be able to manage – at least for the moment – all of these technology locations all at once. But, how many can a teen library staff maintain and manage? How can teens in the community help with the maintenance and management?

One virtual face for teen services isn’t enough. Find out from teens in the community what other locations you need to get to in order to serve lots of different segments of the teen population. It’s OK to start small, but don’t stop small. Keep building virtual branches of your service so that teens that do, and that don’t, come into the library can get to you when they need and want. Why not try to be the teen library with virtual branches everywhere?

Its singstar meets guitar hero + drums Rock Band Launch
Harmonix, the people who developed Guitar Hero, along with MTV Games, have a new project that they’ve been taking to gaming conferences recently. It’s called Rock Band. Its a four player game with two guitars, drums, and lead singer. When I attended PAX I was able to “try” out the game, which was amazingly alot of fun.

Set to release in November, some online game stores are listing the bundle at $199, but there is no official announcement about the price. The Rock Band game wikipedia page lists PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as the consoles it will be playable on, but when I talked with Harmonix at PAX they said they’d like to have a Wii version as well.

This appears to be the next big thing in music gaming. Libraries who have gaming programs will want to watch the developments of this game.

Two articles in yesterday’s New York Times got me thinking about how teen librarians connect teens to authors, books, and programs and services in general.

  • The article, The Author Will Take Q’s Now, focuses on how authors are using blogs as a new way to promote their books. Authors go on blog tours instead of or in conjunction with book tours. What’s a blog tour? Instead of traveling from city to city to sell a book, the author posts, writes comments, answers questions, participates in podcasts, and so on all via blogs that relate to his/her writing. This is such a great idea for teen librarians who might not be able to afford to bring an author to his/her community to speak to teens. If authors and publishers are up for participating in blogs, than library blogs should be on publisher’s lists as those that are worth getting on in order to sell books and authors. The librarian and teens might interview the author via questions on the blog or on a podcast. The author would converse with the library’s teen community via the blog.
  • The essay A Space for Us looks at how MySpace provides opportunities for authors to not only market their books but also connect with readers. The author of the essay, Pagan Kennedy, writes, “But for authors and readers, MySpace offers something entirely new: a forum where we can finally meet and get to know one another…” We’ve posted on this blog before about MySpace being a place for teens to meet authors and for authors to meet teens. A component of this that comes up in the essay is that authors are incredibly isolated when they write. Do teens realize that? Do teens realize what an impact their connection with an author on MySpace might have on the author’s process and final product? MySpace gives teens the chance to actually interact with authors as they are writing and not just as fans after a book is published and read. That’s certainly something empowering to teens and something that’s worth promoting in the library.

Promoting blogs, MySpace, etc. as a way to connect readers and writers is one way to help adults in the community understand why social networking is worthwhile for teens. These two New York Times articles can help in that promotion.