Thoroughly in the swing of things now? Already bored with what’s going on? Happy but ready to add more programming and interest to your services? Whatever the case, maybe some of these innovations, research publications, and other cool tidbits will inspire you.

  • You know your patrons like games. And you may already know of some of the social justice gaming websites and programs out there, like Games for Change or Spent. Now it might interest you to know that there’s a new game out there designed specifically to target your ethics, not just to make you live in someone else’s shoes or support a cause. Quandary is its name, and it was designed by The Learning Network, a collaboration between MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Take a look at the game here, and then consider if your gaming club might attract new members with an interest in social justice, or if your volunteer group might like to try some gaming. Now that so many teens are so savvy at programming, you might be able to get a group together to create a game that tackles a local issue that they find important.
  • I still remember dreading the Presidential Fitness Test during my elementary school days, because there were few things more embarrassing than being asthmatic, scared of the ball, and good at physical activity they didn’t really do in school, like dance and swimming. Lucky for today’s kids in school, the Presidential Youth Fitness program has been redesigned to focus on individual goals and strides for success, rather than a specific benchmark that doesn’t take into account individual strengths, weaknesses, and needs. If your local schools are participating in this program (it’s national but voluntary), maybe it’s a great time to highlight some sports/dance memoirs and biographies; how-to books and DVDs on yoga, Zumba, and other popular group activities; teen health guides; body-positive magazines, posters, and images; and more in one of your displays.
  • Time to take a look outside and see what your library entrance looks like. Do you have sturdy and plentiful bike lock areas? Does your city have safe bike lanes, and does it promote good driver-biker-pedestrian behaviors and understanding? As more and more Millennials choose bikes over cars (for financial reasons, green reasons, fitness reasons, or anything else), you might want to advocate at your next council or budget meeting for some new bike locks if yours are out of date or nonexistent, and you might want to spend some of your collection development dollars on some bike repair guides or spend some programming time on skillshares. Also, if your city is big, think about where these bikers live. Many of the members of this group are college students, which means that if you’re close to the campus in your town, you have a great opportunity to get some new people in the door, and if you’re farther, you might want to look into doing some programming outside of your building.
  • Those of you who won’t be retiring in the next few years (and, of course, those who will be, too) might be interested in Closing the Gap Before It Begins, a five-part report sponsored by Scholastic on what to expect from the class of 2025 (including the sad projection that 30% of them won’t actually graduate from high school that year). Not only will it get you thinking about what your job duties will entail years from now, but it might prompt collaboration across the children’s, YA, and adult services librarians in your institution. And what better time to reach out to young parents who a few years ago might have been your primary patrons, or to your current users who have younger brothers and sisters to be concerned about?
  • It’s no surprise that a lot of movies and television shows featuring sexual violence tends to focus that violence on female characters. Psychologists, parents, doctors, teachers, and other concerned adults have posited that this leads to real life aggression, to lowered self esteem in girls, and other negative outcomes. This research that was published online in August and now appears in the October print issue of the Journal of Communication takes a closer look and tries to determine whether different types of female characters in these types of television shows have different effects. The researchers looked at two shows in each of three categories: nonsexual, nonviolent; sexually violent with negative/subordinate female characters; and sexually violent with strong female roles. They found that men and women exhibited different outlooks towards women and different levels of anxiety depending on the show, and also that Buffy of the eponymous vampire-slaying show was a great role model (but we all knew this, right?). Time to make a display of butt-kicking young men and women in all media, maybe? What else can you do with this very cool research?
    Ferguson, C.J. (2012). Positive female role-models eliminate negative effects of sexually violent media. Journal of Communication, 62(5), 888-899.
  • Until next time!

    About Hannah Gómez

    School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.

    2 Thoughts on “October Eureka Moments

    1. Thanks for posting the information about gaming in libraries. At the high school where I teach we have a “gamers guild” and I have been trying to figure out a way to get the kids involved in that club to teach other students how to play the games that they love so much. I would also like to figure out a way to have games for check out. Do you have any resources about libraries that do this and how they maintain all the “parts” of boxed/board games? It seems like the biggest hurdle to overcome and I am not exactly sure how to tackle it.

    2. Hi, Laine! I think we’re talking about two different kinds of games? The article I posted was referring to video and computer games, though I think it would also be fun to see people create their own board games and personalized or local versions of things like Cranium or Trivial Pursuit. I’m not sure that there’s any sustainable way of providing board games for checkout, but maybe other YALSA bloggers will have experience with them.

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