I work in an academic library. ‘ We find that the most effective way to encourage students to use the library is to go into their classroom and have bibliographic instruction. ‘ As we’ demonstrate how to access our library virtually from the classroom, we try to expand our students’ perception of the libraries. ‘ A library is not a physical brick and mortar building but a resource ‘ available all day long from anywhere. ‘  Although these sessions are certainly effective, we only go into the classrooms twice a semester. ‘  We are beginning to try new ideas to try to replicate the benefits of our classroom instruction to demonstrate ‘ that library and librarians are not contained within the walls of our building. ‘ To do this we are changing the idea of where and how reference assistance happens.

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This episode continues coverage of YALSA’s 2012 elections. The following podcasts are interviews with the four candidates for the Board of Directors.

Candice Mack

Matthew Moffett


Sarah Sogigan

Priscille Dando


If you prefer, you may download the podcast at the’ YALSA Podcast site‘ and transfer the file to the mp3 player of your choice.

Whether it is photocopying the majority of a book, improperly citing websites for papers or telling me that they have illegally downloaded books, some of my patrons do not seem to have a basic understanding of what a copyright is or’  respect for it.’ ‘ I want to teach them about copyright’ and’ why they should respect it.’ ‘ I want to’ strike a balance between being annoying and enlightening.’  I don’t want to be the finger wagging librarian. This is what I have done so far but it is far from enough.’ 

I hear that readers are so’ excited about books that they illegally download them before the library can get a copy. When I spoke to a’ teen who said that she had done this, I decided to show her some blogs that discuss the issue. I knew that a ton of YA authors have blogged about this but I started with’ ‘ S. Jae_Jones‘ because I like her argument.’ The student read this blog and linked to some of the other blogs.’  But, I’m not really sure if this helped or not.

The other day I was explaining that you do indeed need give credit to images that you take off the Internet and you need to find out if you can take those images. ‘ I did have a handy MLA manual but I wanted the’ student to understand that more than just books, articles should be cited.’  Then I remembered that there was a link to on citing apps on my twitter feed.’ I opened the article at Ed Social Media titled 7 tips for Citing an App in MLA Format and went through it with my patron. I think that this opened her eyes to the idea that all different materials need to be citied.

I am just beginning here so I would love some advice and suggestions

Someone once told me that if I planned on becoming a librarian I should brush up on my trouble shooting skills for the copier and printer. Really, the most often questions I get at the reference desk are technical. From my perspective as a college reference librarian, students who are proficient with their handhelds ‘ still need to help with basic computer skills. ‘ Thank goodness, because somedays they are the only questions I get at the desk!’ I found that the basic how to computer questions end up becoming the start of an excellent relationship.

Building Trust’ 

Countless times, I have had students linger in the reference desk waiting for the all clear to whisper (no one whispers in my library) “Can you show me how to print my paper?”. ‘ I have found that getting up and walking to their desk is the best way to help because it communicates that I am going to work with them to fix the problem. Even if it is just to show them where the print tab is. ‘  ‘ In a typical reference transaction, my training would have suggested that I turn my computer to show the patron how to print a paper from my screen. ‘ But technical questions are better handled working at the computer with the student. ‘  I also think that my eliminating the reference desk eliminates any of the “power” implication between a student and ‘ me.

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Whether you are in a school or public library, you have probably had to work with a patron that was required to visit the library. Sometimes they come in groups or sometimes they come alone. Sometimes they are happy to be there but often the fact that their presence in the library is a requirement makes them reluctant or resentful patrons. ‘ Here are some steps that I take to avoid making a tough situation worse and help make the patron feel at home in the library. ‘ I came to all of theses conclusions by trail and error–lots of errors.

  1. Be Prepared‘ In a perfect world the teacher who has required students to visit the library has told you that they are coming but my how to steps are designed for the real world. Teens often come to the library for ‘ a specific project or for generic library instruction. Have a brief (no more than 5-8min) introduction to the library and how to use the library in ready in your head. ‘ It helps to have pamphlets on hand to for these unexpected visits. ‘ The handouts will most likely end up in the trash (recycling bin if you are lucky) but it will help keep you on point. ‘ I have found that the best handout is generic enough that it helps with basic search tips’ and highlights your awesome gaming collection.
  2. Understand their Position I have had to sign sheets that confirm that a student has received library instruction and assistance on projects. ‘ If I feel like a parole officer, I can only imagine how they feel in this situation. ‘ One teen reported that this made her feel like a “child.” It is important than to remember to treat them as intelligent young adults. Show them that the library is a place that respects them.
  3. Lose the Librarian Talk and Be Natural‘ Nothing makes a resentful patron more resentful than strange vocabulary and being talked down too. ‘ This is so difficult to remember. My library is working on a list of words that we are trying not too use around patrons. We are thinking of making a donation jar–drop quarter when you say a bad librarian word! ‘ Along the same line, we are trying to be aware of how we speak to teens. When we started evaluating each other, we were shocked to find that we often asked questions like “Do you know what an abstract is?” Out of context, we were able to hear how condescending we sound. ‘ By evaluating each other, we have been able to help reduce how often we say these annoying phrases.
  4. Handle the Attitude and Sell the Library‘ This is especially tough when you are working with a group of teens who are required to listen to you. They don’t want to be there–they think libraries are outdated, unfriendly and that you are a total nerd (and not in a good way!). I find the best way to handle this is to start off by asking them what their impressions and feeling are about libraries. ‘ Encourage honesty and be prepared to hear horror stories. As they tell you how librarians are unfriendly, acknowledge their past experiences and ask them to give us another chance. ‘ Show them how technically advanced your library is and be prepared to show them the coolest aspect of your collection or something unique about your library. The teens may not want to be there but don’t lose the opportunity to win them over.
  5. Have Candy‘ I know this comes up all the time… but it works! Having candy can really help with that awkward moment when you have to scramble to get ready for the unexpected group .


Teens and their use of technology, whether cell phones, social media, gaming, or even plain old tv is getting a bad rap in the media and in advertisements.’ ‘  Obesity has been associated with the amount of time a child spends in front of a screen.’  There are studies showing the’  association between technology and sleep deprivation.’  A recent anti-drug campaign’  offers parents help for teens who use their cell phone to access drugs’  (The image of the cellphone on the table is reminiscent of the classic anti-drug ad with the single blunt).’ ‘  Dateline has proved over’  and over again that the Internet is full of predators.’ ‘  I do not argue with any of these findings. ‘  I worry, though, that technology gets too much of the blame.’  Because of these negative associations, I think that teens’ use of technology becomes something that parents, teachers and librarians try to curb rather than try to encourage.’  When we are bombarded with these studies and advertisements, adults can forget how much reading a teen does with technology and the positive influence technology has. As librarians we are in a position to help bring awareness to how technology can be dangerous; however,’  we must remember that we have an equal if not more important role in helping teens use technology to get better information, to socialize, to play games and to read.
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Since entering the library field, I can’t count the number of times a parent has secretly pulled me aside asking for help to get their teenager to read more. The story is almost always the same– the teen loved books as toddler, read as a child but somewhere along the road he stopped reading. Parents ask “Is there a magic book that will lure them back to reading? Will the Hunger Games make a reader of my son?”‘  I used to conduct a “text book” reader advisory interview to try to suggest some titles, authors or even different formats for the teenager.’  This always felt weird since I was never actually talking to the teen.’  Now, I talk to the parents about how we model reading behavior and how we might influence a teen’s reading habits. As many of us and our patrons read more books, newspapers and periodicals from the screen rather than from the page, this conversation might prove more helpful in getting teens to read than the recommendation of the perfect book.

Modeling Reading Behavior

We all know that children who see adults and parents read are more likely to be readers. I ask the parent to think about how she reads and what her teen sees her reading.’ ‘ ‘  Our ability to model good reading behavior diminishes when teens see their parents on the handheld devices and assume that they are checking their work email. I ask parents “do your teens know that you are an avid reader of The New York Times if the subscription comes to your Nook and not your door?” Likewise, a teen may never see the great cover to the Lee Child thriller that you are reading and won’t ask to read it when you are done.’  ‘  I ask parents “do your teens know what you like to read and how often you read?”

Influencing a Teen’s Reading Habits

While it may seem that I am against ereaders, I assure you that is not the case. Screen reading only diminishes an adult’s ability to model good reading habits if the parent doesn’t let the teen know what they are doing. In short, I suggest to parents that they talk about the books they are reading. I advise that parents make sure that they can lend their ebooks to their teen’s personal ereaders. Parents should mention what they are reading on their Facebook pages, and tweet articles that they find interesting.’  This is the contemporary equivalent to leaving the newspaper open on the kitchen table with a post it note.’  Social media has created tremendous opportunities for community reading and to share reading experiences. I encourage parents to utilize these avenues to showoff and share their reading habits with their teens.

Sometimes parents really respond to this conversation and other times I know that they are disappointed that I have not provided the right book for their teen.’  Thinking about how we read might be more helpful than thinking about what we read.