A poor time slot and multiple Marriott hotels made for slim attendance at the Teen Gaming Interest Group Meeting Saturday afternoon.

Kelly Czarnecki, co-convener, welcomed the attendees, noting that the Gaming Discussion Group (which has evolved to an Interest Group) is a year old! Our agenda included a visit from Matt Gullett, Imaginon, and Scott Nicholson, Syracuse University, to talk about Game Lab.

We intended to elect conveners, but with only 8 attendees, decided to do it online. Interested candidates should send a short blurb (under 250 words) about why they want to be the convener NO LATER THAN June 26. We’ll elect via a Survey Monkey poll. Polls will close at 11 PM EST on June 230, as YALSA needs to be informed of the names of conveners by July 1 2007.

Currently in the running for the convener position in alphabetical order, are:
* Kelly Czarnecki
* Beth Gallaway
* Beth Saxton
* Jami Schwarzwalder

Our final agenda item was to work on 2008 program. We decided to rename it “Gaming Beyond Tournaments.” The focus is programs that are related to gaming or have appeal to gamers but don’t involve actually playing games. Got a great program to share? Want to speak? Available Sunday June 23 at 8AM in Anaheim CA? I’d love to hear from you: informationgoddess29 AT gmail DOT com

About Game Lab at PLCMC:
Matt, a gamer since age 4. Started doing gaming in 2005, and has started a Game Lab at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County. Matt wanted to replicate the GameLab at Syracuse with a public library spin. Their Game Lab has three key focuses:
1. Programming
2. Content Creation
3. Collaboration

The GameLab is trying to show that games are an important part of digital literacy. Games and interactive media are a public good. It’s not just a room for people to come in and play games whenever they want t; it’s to develop partnership with local schools, colleges and universities and library oriented LIS programs to develop programming and rationale for gaming and libraries. Partnerships with businesses are also a potential – working with game companies to see product development. Working with The Youth Digital Arts Cyber School is another potential partner, a Las Vegas company that offers online classes in Game Design. It’s not just about playing the games it’s about making them too. Introducing gamers to the tools to enable them to do content creation.

GameLab is not limited to video games! Card, board, miniatures, it’s all good. The space is an office that can be a flexible space; much of the content will be portable, and use will be dictated by projects like beta testing or a board game event.

The Science Museum of Minnesota has instructors who are using the free game design software Scratch (from MIT) to teach a class at the Hennepin County library called be a computer game designer. “The teens didn’t really realize how much math they were using because they were having so much fun with it.” The Museum charged, but a training the trainer program for teens to continue as instructors is under investigation.

Kelly cited that her goal was to start at the beginning, with GameMaker, but kids wanted to start where they were comfortable (a very gamer mentality).

Someone suggested the flash drive option: when you have a restrictive environment and can’t install programs, putting an installed program on a flash drive may be an option. Used web-based game design tools are another alternative. Some resources: http://www.cs.queensu.ca/~dalamb/Games/design/gameDesignSites.html

About GameLab at Syracuse
Scott Nicholson, Associate Professor at Syracuse University, told us that the Information Institute at Syracuse is handling GameLab, thanks to a half-million dollar IMLS grant . Both OCLC and ALA TechSource are partners.

GameLab at Syracuse involves four research projects:
1. Creating a thesaurus for all types of games
2. Using economics as a way of looking at the public good regarding recreational gaming; if appropriate is the library the right place to do it
3. Get a better idea of idea of penetration of games in libraries
4. Create a gaming census

The outcome will be figuring out what type of games are successful in a specific environments for specific populations, with a range of options – like a portable games kit. Different games appeal to different people for different reasons. Scott continued to challenge us to think about goals of your gaming program. “A great game for the wrong crowd leads to a bad user experience. We need a game sommelier, if you will…”

Get on the e-mail list for the Syracuse Library Game Lab. To sign up, send an e-mail to listserv AT listserv DOT syr DOT edu. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it with the message ‘Subscribe gamelab Your Name.’

Some program sharing ensued: anime prom, Runescape LAN parties, and teen run video game nights were just a few great ideas. We also learned that ALSC’s Children and Technology committee has submitted a to run a technology program in Anaheim which may or may not include gaming – watch for more details to come.

Other questions we discussed:
Where do you get the money? Where do you buy games from? and Who has a Wii?

A reminder about three other upcoming gaming events of interest:
* ALA TechSource Gaming in Libraries Symposium, July 22-24, Chicago O’Hare Marriott

* Gaming in Libraries, a 3 credit class at Syracuse University in spring 2008 over 3 weekends, will focus on the history of games, games as a new media, and experiencing and evaluating a variety of games.

* Wallenberg Hall Summer Institute on Gaming in Education at Stanford University, August 6-10

Thanks to all attendees and contributors!

EDIT: OH! And don’t forget to contribute to our list of 50 recommended games on the YALSA wiki at http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/Gaming_Lists_%26_Activities

EDIT: Correct link for The Youth Digital Arts Cyber School is http://www.ydacs.com.

“If you are going to succeed at Web 2.0 you must immerse yourself in the culture.”

I can’t believe I got up at 6:30 to be at an 8 AM presentation… and it was in a room with only about 50 chairs!

Presenter Matt Hong was not available for whatever reason (I missed the “why” as I was pushing my way through to sit on the floor at the feet of the speaker), but Ken Breen from Gale did a nice job of leading us through the slides and concepts, goodnaturedly explaining it was not the presentation that was hard, it was fielding the questions, after! He encouraged us to ask them, though, and maybe expertise in the room would lead to answers – it was very unconferencey!

We began with an introduction: digital natives are born into tech and speak the language of computers & video games; immigrants were not. Immigrants tend to be linear; prefer to work individually and favor text over image audio and video. Natives prefer random access to information, work collaboratively, desire customization and favor multimedia.

Some stats on going to the library first versus going to the Internet first:

  • 71% high school students go to the Internet first
  • 73% college students go to the Internet first
  • 85% of (Facebook supported) college students have a profile on Facebook

Digital natives prefer tools with personalization, expression and collaboration. I’ve not only heard of all the tools mentioned, but actively use Flickr, del.icio.us, Facebook, IM, Second Life, wikis and blogs.

Last FM was the only I haven’t heard of, but it must be similiar to iLike.

“The digital native is at the center of the information ecosystem” said Ken, “with many paths in which to go.” Another major point was that if you are going to do it, you have to go all the way. Don’t make a MySpace page that asks users to call you–utilize the MySpace IM, commenting and groups.

Thomas Ford Memorial Library

Notable for it’s action driven left menu, hyperlinks within the text, and Meebo chat room

Penn Tags
Notable because students can tag the collection

We need to put the pressure on library vendors to get there Web 2.0 tools integrated into their products. Examples include AquaBrowser, an overlay for the library catalog, and Access My Library which puts database hits come up first on Google.

Ken facilitated a discussion where the participants asked questions and responded to one another. Debate over “they don’t want us in their space” vs. “they don’t mind and at least it gets out name out there” followed.

One participant suggested that we should be embracing Wikipedia and taking control of it.

I think it’s about affinity groups; age is not as much of an issue. The ‘net is a great equalizer. Also, it’s important to remember that natives blur the lines between work, school and play. having these 3 facets overlap is a way of life.

Someone said they were wrestling with the decision, do you go in as an individual or an organization? “the answer is yes (the both).”

Someone else pointed out that it’s still all about finding the right resource to answer the question… trying to educate teachers that the database is not the Internet.

I was quick to jump up and explain Second Life when someone asked what it was. A few people came up to me after to ask more questions. Did anyone make it to the panel on participatory media at 10:30 Saturday? I was sorry to miss it (although, all committee was great).

  • Boarding pass and photo ID? Check. (wondering if I look like a librarian)
  • Chargers for cell phone, camera, and iPod? Check. (why isn’t there convergence here yet?)
  • Google calendar printout? Check. (I like it better than event planner)
  • Cotton clothes for layered dressing to go from chilly conference halls to steamy DC heat? Check. (regulatory cardigan, but a cool jean jacket, too).
  • Pocket knife and Heelie wheels taken out of backpack? Check. (long story).
  • Masses of emails from the selected lists task force? Check. (I’m a little behind…)
  • iPod for Music Interest Group Meeting? Check.
  • Business cards? Nope. Breaking my own rule. I haven’t had time to make new ones. If you give me one of yours though, I’ll send you an email when I get home 🙂

Here’s hoping I can sleep on the plane, because my alarm is set for 5 AM. See you all in DC!

A felony, even, thanks to legislation passed last month in the NY Assembly 131-10. Bill A08696 makes sale of games containing “depraved violence” and “indecent images” a Class E felony. Jail time, permanent record. The bill also requires all consoles sold to be equipped with a parental control device (all of the next generation consoles have this feature already–did they not do their research?).

Another bill, introduced in the Senate, is Bill S05888, which:

  • mandates ratings on all games sold/rented in the state of New York (the ratings system, established by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, is currently voluntary)
  • criminalizes game sales that are “in contravention” to the rating (Does this mean a 9-year old who purchases an E10+ can also get a store into trouble? What ID will they ask for as proof of age?)
  • creates an advisory council to evaluate the New York based Entertainment Software Ratings Board (The ESA is something of an industry watchdog–this is like a vote of no confidence to me)
  • establishes a parent-teacher anti-violence awareness program that will intervene with students at risk of developing violent tendencies (reading between the lines, it seems like this was included as part of the bill because of an assumption that violent video games make people more violent). This new program will be funded with monies from the Department of Education (not, apparently, with monies generated from fines that could be collected for violations of age-inappropriate game sales.

Would you be upset if instead of game, these bills said, “book?” What about “film” or “CD?”

The bill mentions retailers, specifically. Do libraries in NY who CIRCULATE games–not sell or rent–have to comply with this law? And how might it change circulation policies of other materials? We have a long history of allowing PARENTS to set the boundaries for what their minor children may borrow, not libraries, and not the government.

Hopefully, like other attempts to mandate game ratings and punish retailers for parental negligence, bills A08696 and S05888 will be ruled unconstitutional and repealed. In the meantime, libraries wishing to educate their communities about game content and ratings will be pleased to know that the ESRB has great resources on their website, and upon request, will send brochures on the rating system to give away in your city or town.

Want to do more? If you live in NY, please contact your legislators to speak out against this First Amendment violation. If you don’t live in NY, be on the watch for a similar bill to appear in your state. Finally, consider joining the Video Game Voters Network.

I’ve been pretty swamped lately, and just made my flight arrangements this past weekend. I’ve briefly skimmed the event planner, considered what to ear in the sweltering, muggy, DC heat, and phoned up my oldest friend, whom I’ve know for 25 years. He and his wife live in Dumfries VA, and I’m flying south a whole day early, just to squeeze in a visit with them.

Which brings me to what I’m looking forward to most about ALA: that rather than any ONE event, I look forward at conference the people, whether it’s working together in a committee meeting, rubbing elbows at a reception (w00t! YALSA happy hour!), getting a chance to put together faces with names from blogs and email discussion lists, dropping cards at the vendor booths, trying not to be starstruck over the Printz award-winning authors, or just meeting old friends for dinner, the connections are what makes conference so worthwhile for me.

A few tips to meeting new people:

Don’t Be Shy! Many of us are introverts, but that just means you need more downtime after being “on.” Sure, we all need that me time, but someone you meet on the bus might have a great job lead for you. Start off on the right foot at the airport–you can probably find someone going to a hotel near you who wants to share a cab. Sit next to someone at a meal or on the bus, and make conversation (instead of burying your nose in an advance reading copy – there will be time for that on the plane ride home!) at least once. Trust me–it pays off.

Bring Business Cards. Even if you have to make them yourself. How else are we going to find out about your fabulous blog, awesome podcast, or that you moonlight as a storyteller? Added bonus: You can write “Please send powerpoint!” on the back and give them to presenters, and they often follow through.

Staff the YALSA Booth. It’s a great way to network. Contact Erin Helmrich, who posted a few requests for coverage on YALSA email distribution lists; as of right now, there are a few slots left. I just offered to do a Monday afternoon shift; drop in and say hey.

Leave Your Track. Go to at least one session that has nothing to do with your job. It lends fresh perspective, an appreciation for what your coworkers and colleagues do, and, yep, you’ll meet someone new.

Bring Games. This one I learned from my friend Jami. Librarians congregate in hotel bars between the closing of the exhibit halls and the evening’s events. Tuck a tabletop card game like Man Bites Dog into your conference bag to whip out as a cocktail hour conversation starter. Mad Libs and traditional playing cards are also highly recommended.

Hang Out With New People. Pick at least one night to not hang out with people from your library system or your ALA roommate. It’s good for you! Variety is the spice of life.

That said…

Make Time for Longtime Friends, Too. Make a plan to meet for coffee, stroll the exhibit halls together, or find each other at a publisher party. There are some people I only seem to connect with at the VOYA reception or at All-Committee, once a year. It’s good to catch up, exchange ideas, and touch base.

See you all next Friday!

Is teen behavior a product of biology, culture, or both?

A new article by Robert Epstein in Scientific American Mind sets out to dispel the myth that the teen brain is rooted in turmoil. Historically, teenagedom is a relatively recent invention. Epstein claims that in the past, teens did not act quite so out of control, and suggests that behavioral problems are influenced not just by the physical changes that are part of the brain’s lifelong growth and evolution, but are impacted (more?) by chemical, electrical or anatomical properties in the brain.

As someone who has been very supportive of the work and theories of doctors like Jay Giedd, I’m taking this article with a grain of salt. Perhaps it’s true that we can’t make generalizations based solely on brain scans, but regardless of whether you believe biology or culture play the larger role in teen behavior, the conclusion rings true that teens have the potential to perform in exemplary ways, and it’s all about giving them support and options. And, when we treat teens with respect and set high expectations, they almost always rise to the challenge.

I am adding this article to the Syllabus for my Pain in the Brain class, offered through YALSA for the month of July. If you haven’t already registered, please sign up at:

I am finalizing my syllabus (just need to verify all the links work!) for release on Monday June 4.

Epstein, Robert. “The Myth of the Teen Brain.” Scientific American Mind, April 8 2007.

Someone left a comment on my book review blog that is a stumper… Oh Collective Brain! Any ideas?

“Hi, can anyone tell me the name of a book. I was sure it was something like war of the gods, but i cannot find it anywhere. its starts off with the author telling us about a nuclear war in which not a lot of people survive. it goes on to say that the survivors find a diary and keep it (like the bible). Then later in the book it basically takes passages from the bible and dissects them ! If anyone can help that would be great !”

Do you think it’s a teen? Do you think s/he has asked the local school or public library?

Leave a suggestion in the comments!

If you haven’t checked out Meebo lately, today is a good day to do so, because, omg omg omg! Meebo has ROOMS!

Meebo is an instant message aggregator – you set up accounts for Yahoo!, AIM, GTalk, Jabber, MSN, and/or ICQ, then create ONE login for all of your accounts, so you have ONE buddy list. It’s all web-based, so you don’t need to download or install anything. You could even create rooms to pull buddies from one list together in a group chat.

Now, your buddies from any system can talk to each other in Meebo rooms! And, Meebo has set up a bunch of rooms arranged by topic, like Nintendo Wii, Vibe Magazine, and Juicy couture. Check it out at http://www.meebo.com

Now, if I could just import my Second Life and WoW buddy lists…I want convergence!

What are YOU doing this summer? Make time to squeeze in at least one of these online workshop offerings from YALSA. Professional development (PD) is about staying current to keep at the top of your game; it’s also a fantastic networking opportunity. Space is limited, so register early! Details from Nichole Gilbert’s Press Release follow.

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest-growing division of the American Library Association (ALA), is offering four online courses this summer: “Making the Match: Finding the Right Book for the Right Teen at the Right Time,” “Pain in the Brain: Adolescent Development and Library Behavior,” “Power Programming for Teens,” and “Using Electronic Databases with Teens.” Classes will take place July 1 to July 30, except for “Making the Match,” which runs from July 1 through August 10. Registration opened on May 7, 2007.

“Making the Match: Finding the Right Book for the Right Teen at the Right Time” participants will become experts at connecting teens with books! In a recent survey by Smartgirl.org and YALSA, the majority of teen respondents said that they would read more if they knew about more good books to read. In this e-course, participants will learn how to make a successful match between library materials and teen library users. Course participants will explore adolescent development, learn about teen reading preferences and take part in an active discussion about specific books and library materials that meet the varied needs and interests of teens. Teri Lesesne will teach this course.

Teen brain development rivals that of the toddler years–maybe that explains the attitude and characteristics of this historically underserved age group. “Pain in the Brain” participants will find out exactly why teens act the way they do and learn how librarians can address patron behavior issues in a way that will develop relationships with young adults. Beth Gallaway will teach this course.

“Power Programming for Teens” will help participants attain a higher level of service to teens at their library or school. Designed for library staff who are beginning to find success with a few teen programs, participants will learn how to develop and implement more programming ideas that will work at their facility. Amy Alessio will teach this course.

“Using Electronic Databases with Teens” will review several electronic databases guided by an evaluation form that will be provided. Students will experiment with three databases and create a local tip sheet for use by teen patrons. Nancy Keane will teach this course.

Registration for the course is available online from May 7 through June 15 at www.ala.org/yalsa. The cost for each course is $135 for YALSA members, $175 for ALA members, and $195 for non members. The course is the equivalent of a one day face-to-face workshop. More tips on taking online courses can be found on the YALSA Web site at: http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/onlinecourses/info.htm .

For 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos, and audiobooks for teens. For more information about these awards or for additional lists of recommended reading, go to www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists. For more information about YALSA, please contact us via e-mail, yalsa@ala.org ; or by phone at 1-800-545-2433 ext. 4390.

Nichole Gilbert
Young Adult Library Services Association
ph. 1-800-545-2433 ext.4387

Register for Teen Read Week!
October 14-20, 2007
LOL! @ your library

ALA electronic polls close in just six days, on April 24! I got a reminder today from YALSA President Judy Nelson, and am pleased to report I DID vote, last week. It only took a moment to find the email with the password I’d been sent last month so I could log in, and in less than 20 minutes, I got through all three ballots, for ALA, ALSC, and YALSA. The clickable bios make it really easy to choose your candidates, even if you haven’t been following coverage on division blogs or library journals. (Note: you can catch up on YALSA candidates via the posts tagged “Election” at http://blogs.ala.org/yalsa.php?cat=25

Judy reports two items on the YALSA ballot:

  1. Proposal to amend the Bylaws to increase member representation on the Board of Directors by increasing the number of Directors-at-Large from six to seven. (YALSA’s explosion to 5000+ members merits this change)
  2. Proposal to amend the Bylaws to add a Secretary position to the Board of Directors, which will also serve on the Executive Committee. (another result of rapid growth, and need for accurate and timely record-keeping)

For informational purposes, a list of AASL/ALSC/YALSA members running for ALA Councillor at Large follows. For our concerns to be represented, we have to be at the table. I am not endorsing any candidate in particular, but encourage you to vote for your youth services colleagues.

Brenda Pruitt Annisette
James F. Bennett
Walter Betts
Diane Chen
Sarah Flowers
Carolyn Lowe Garnes
Catherine Greene

Elaine Harger
Plummer Jones, Jr.
Marilyn McCroskey
M.A. Oettinger
Sylvia Mora Ona
Melore Ranney Norman
Annemarie Roscello
Clara Sitter
Lynn Strickland

J. Linda Williams

Vote today!