Over the past several weeks I’ve been teaching an online course for YALSA called Connect, Create, Collaborate. The focus of the course is on technology in teen services with a strong focus on how to integrate technology into traditional programs and services for teens – collection development, programming, outreach, readers’ advisory, and so on. Over the past five weeks students in the class have been creating lots of content in order to explore the possibilities.

Here’s a rundown on some of the topics covered in the course and what was discussed about and/or developed each week:

QR Codes

During the week that focused on how to create great teen services using tech, one of the topics discussed was QR codes. The QR code conversation brought out a lot of great ideas including ideas about adding codes to:

  • a goldfish tank in the library that when scanned leads to web content about goldfish.
  • posters in the teen area in order to find out more information about the person, event, etc. shown in the poster.
  • plaques or art hanging in the library in order to connect teens and others to more information about the person or organization named in the plaque or who created the art.
  • tshirts for the library staff, the shirts could have links to the library homepage, activities, a favorite book, a book trailer, etc. Teens could also make their own customized QR tshirts.

There was also the idea to have teens dress up as QR codes that will scan to characters in books. A “Who AM I?” program.

I think the QR code discussion took off in class because these codes are so easy to implement – free or low cost – and don’t take a lot of skill to create. If you are starting out with some new tech ideas for your library those two aspects of QR codes are probably important to keep in mind. I also think that QR codes took off in class because a multitude of library services can be integrated into use of the technology -readers’ advisory, collection development, outreach, programming, and so on. QR code initiatives can encompass many traditional areas of teen library service.

Google Maps

As a part of student investigations related to technology and collaboration, class members worked on a Google Map together. The map, shown below, visually highlights across North America what’s going on with teens and technology and libraries.

View Teens, Tech, & Libraries – Making the Connection in a larger map

During conversations about using Google Maps with teens, students came up with a host of good ideas including using maps in summer reading scavenger hunts, as a way for teens to map events in a favorite book, or to chart historic events of teen interest. We also covered some ideas related to how teens can collaborate on Google maps across the world – from library to library.


During the week of class when the focus was on how technology supports text-based literacies, students explored the use of Xtranormal. This was another technology where student brainstorming took off. We discussed everything from using Xtranormal in staff development as a way to give staff members the chance to create examples of positive and negative teen customer service experiences, to having characters from different books talk with each other in an Xtranormal video. We also considered how Xtranormal points might be used as prizes and incentives for teens that take part in library programs.

I do have permission to show examples of some of the Xtranormal projects that students developed. Here are a couple for you to check-out.

Google Search Stories

Students in the class also had some really good ideas about how to use Google Search Stories with teens – including using for booktalks and for teaching information literacy skills. You can see some of how those ideas play out in these videos made by students. (Again posted with student permission.)




We talked about screencasts in class as a way to start bringing a lot of pieces together. The concept being that technology, teens, and libraries goes way beyond programming. Screencasts, for example can be used to teach information literacy skills, provide readers’ advisory, and market programs and services. Again, with student permission, here is an example:


This is the last week of class and students have the opportunity to create a portfolio of their work from class using Glogster or Tumblr as well as develop a full implementation plan for integrating technologies discussed in class in their work environments. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

One theme that has come up over and over again during this class is how important it is to find ways to use technology to connect with teens in their own spaces. We’ve moved the discussion beyond the idea of a library having a Facebook Fan Page, to talking about a teen’s own Facebook page and how a teen can use library resources and support the library through his or her own social medis space. Teens shouldn’t need to go to the library virtual space to find and explore content, they should be able to explore content from their own space or from their friend’s spaces. This presents a large outreach shift for teen librarians, but it’s one that students in the class, and I, think is going to be required in order to successfully serve the age group in the 21st century.

I am impressed with the work of the students in this class. The discussions of the students, along with the projects developed, demonstrate the potential we have for providing great technology-based service to teens.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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