In October YALSA launched the weekly blog column, App of the Week. The idea behind the column is that there are a lot of apps available to teens and to the librarians that serve them, and getting the word out about what’s available and what’s worth spending time with is something the YB (YALSA Blog) should provide.
Yet, at the same time that YALSA launched the new YB column, I started to recognize that not everyone realizes or accepts that we do now live in an app world. Over the past few months I’ve had several conversations with librarians serving teens and have heard things like, “I don’t get why apps are something I should pay attention to. Not all the teens I serve have devices that can run apps. And, I don’t have a device that runs apps. So, what’s the big deal?” (Of course I’m paraphrasing.)
The thing is that apps are everywhere. And, apps provide incredible opportunities for teens to connect with information, reading materials, and each other. This can easily be seen in the variety of apps covered in this blog over the past few months, including:
- Marvel Comics
- Instagram – a photo sharing service that does more than photo sharing
- iDrakula – a book app that’s a retelling of Dracula via text messages
- Momento– a diary app
This can also be seen in the fact that approximately 18 months ago a YB blog post covered good iPhone/iTouch apps for teens. Still, today, that post is one of the most often read articles on the blog. It also rises to the top on a Google search for teen iphone apps. In other words, lots of people are interested in apps that will appeal to and support young adults.
This means that librarians serving teens need to become familiar with what’s happening in the app world. (Even if the teens seen every day don’t have devices or even if no librarians in the institution have a device that runs apps. It’s likely that teens who aren’t regulars in the library and adults that use the library are app friendly and curious about what’s available.) One way to accomplish this is by reading the YB App of the Week posts. Another way is to talk with teens about the apps that they use, what they like about what they use, and what kinds of apps they would still like to see.
Most important, if you haven’t tried apps yourself find a way to do so. If you have a friend with a smartphone or device that runs apps ask him or her to show you what’s up with them. Ask teens in the library to show you the apps that they use on their devices. Go to an Apple or cell phone store and ask the people that work there to show you devices that use apps. The only way you are going to be able to talk with teens and others about apps is to become familiar with them yourself. You don’t have to go out and buy a device, go into the community to learn what you need to know.
Also, don’t forget that parents and teachers in the community are probably looking for help on finding good apps either for teens or for using in teaching and learning. Maybe at your library on your Facebook page or other web presence you could regularly connect teens and those that live and work with them to apps of interest. Perhaps start publishing your own version of YALSA’s App of the Week column.
Don’t let apps pass you by, if you do you are missing out on a key connection point between you and teens within your community.