If you’re free today, Wednesday, May 14 at 3:30pm EST, tune into ustream.tv for a presentation by Librarian Joseph Wilk on connecting with teens and music at your library. Go to www.ustream.tv, type in ‘plcmc’ in the upper right corner where it says ‘search here’, choose the ‘PLCMC Teens 1’ channel when it says ‘live’ and you’re in! You’ll need headphones and the latest Adobe Flash Player to view it. Think of the possibilities for using such a tool-gaming with other libraries, teens giving hosting their own radio show, author talks, etc. For more ideas, check out a past post by Linda Braun on the YALSA blog about Ustream and some other ideas and similar software from School Library Journal. Feel free to share your own experiences.

2008 Annual Conference LogoYes, it’s still several weeks away, but it’s really not to early to start thinking about what YALSA’s up to for Annual in Anaheim. I just decided to put programs, meetings, and events on my Google Calendar and was reminded what a full-schedule of offerings YALSA has put together for attendees. For example:

  • On Friday, June 27, there are two pre-conferences to choose from. One on booktalking and one on serving younger teens and tweens. Both require pre-registration.
  • Friday, June 27, is also when YALSA will host it’s third annual YALSA 101 meeting. This is when Conference attendees get a chance to find out what YALSA is all about. If you’ve been thinking about getting involved, and aren’t sure how, this is a good chance to get your questions answered
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I added two new resources to the YALSA wiki: Virtual Worlds: A Teen Tech Week Guide. Download yourself a free copy of the Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds published by the Association of Virtual Worlds. It lists over 250 virtual worlds, their age appropriateness, and what kind of environment they are. Also, check out the Second Skin site. It is a documentary on virtual worlds through the lens of seven gamers.

Tomorrow from 5-6pm EST, Young Adult Author John Green will be in Second Life (*note this is the main grid of SL which is for those 18 and over). He will be presenting in audio. There are a few other ways you can listen to his presentation if you don’t have access to SL or don’t have time to fiddle with it. Visit the Bookosphere Radio here or go to the Library Loft web site here where streamed video and audio of the presentation will be available.

I went to my first Computers in Libraries conference this week. It’s going to take more than one post to mention all the cool things I learned.

But first, let me say that CiL is a really fun conference. It felt a lot more low-key than ALA mid-winter to me; maybe that was because everyone who was there was pretty like-minded about technology and just excited to be talking about what’s new and innovative. Or maybe it was because I’m starting to feel less left out of things: I got to meet many friendly library professionals from all over the place. I’m definitely starting to feel like a genuine member of the greater library community (and I made some new Twitter friends).

CiL basically consists of three days of presentations, and each day is broken into five tracks. You can stick with the presentations in your track for the whole day, or you can bounce around, which is what I did. I tried to balance my schedule between sessions that I knew would apply specifically to my job and sessions that were about information that I thought I should know about as a new public librarian. For example, I attended “From WoePAC to WowPAC,” a double session on OPACs, since I know nothing about them beyond the very basics. I also tried to check out anything I could find about marketing, since that’s a major component of what I’ll be doing in building a new teen program from the ground up.

So here’s some information I got from some of the most useful and fascinating sessions.

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Over the past few weeks a couple of students tweeted about a video on Teacher Tube called Pay Attention. It’s a seemingly simple presentation that focuses on why educators need to actively integrate technology into teaching. With that focus, it’s really about engaging students of all ages in learning.

Engaging teens in library programs and services is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. What does it take to engage 13 to 18 year olds so that they are interested in what librarians have to offer?
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Organizing work-related projects is something with which many YALSA blog readers might struggle. Time to plan and implement projects can be challenging. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get even one thing from a list of tasks accomplished, particularly when it’s important to interact with the teens as much as possible – and not hide away in an office making sure administrative tasks are taken care of.

There are several technologies that can help you get through your day. Three to get you started are:

Remember the Milk LogoRemember the Milk – is a web-based software that makes it really easy to keep track of tasks you need to accomplish. Sign-up for a free account and start creating lists of the things you need to do. You can integrate your lists into online calendars – such as Google Calendar – and access what you need to do on handheld devices, cell phones, etc. You can even setup Remember the Milk to send you reminders via Twitter. It’s also possible to collaborate with others using Remember the Milk. Maybe you and the teens in your TAG need to develop a list of tasks that need to be accomplished for an upcoming program. You could create that list together even when the teens aren’t in the library – just use Remember the Milk to make it happen.
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For many months I’ve been looking forward to the launch of YALSA’s new blogging platform and interface. Now that I can’t look forward to that anymore, I’m thinking about what’s next on my looking forward to list. Some items are:
ALA 2008 Conference LogoALA Annual Conference 2008
In Anaheim those interested in teen services can look forward to pre-conferences on serving younger teens and tweens, programs on topics like reaching teens outside the library and youth advocacy, technology poster sessions, and the President’s Program on Third Space. You can find more about what’s coming in Anaheim on the YALSA wiki.
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A library school student sent a Twitter message recently with a link to a Pew Internet in American Life poll titled Where Do You Fit. It’s a short 10 question poll that asks respondents about how they use technology on a regular basis. It asks about device ownership, time spent online, use of web 2.0, etc. I wasn’t surprised by my results, but my lack of surprise got me thinking, what do we as librarians serving teens really know about the teens, adults, parents, and others with whom we work.

This came back to me a few minutes ago as I sat next to a group of teens in a Starbucks and eavesdropped on their conversation. They talked about which music playing in the store that they liked and didn’t like, the teachers they liked and didn’t like, the dogs they wanted that their “moms” wouldn’t let them get, and they also analyzed the people walking past the store. I didn’t learn anything particularly new while listening to the teens, I did however validate some of my ideas about what their interests, concerns, and preferences are.

There are lots of ways to find out what teens are really thinking. It could be by eavesdropping, like I just did, while in a public place. It could be by talking to people who work with teens in the community (teachers, youth advocacy organization staff, counselors, etc.). Or, it could be through online surveys and polls – by the way don’t forget to let your teens know about YALSA’s Teen Tech Week survey.

Ultimately, however, the only way you are going to know what teens are thinking, what they want, and what they need is by talking to them directly. Consider having teens take the Pew Survey mentioned at the beginning of the post, and then talk to them about the results. When the YALSA TTW survey results are published ask your teens how those results do and don’t reflect their own lives.

Also, it’s important to realize that asking a year, or sometimes even six months ago, doesn’t mean you know what teens of the moment want and need. Don’t forget to keep the conversation going and try not to assume old information/data is still accurate. Assuming, without asking directly, can lead to programs and services that just don’t make the mark.

Librarians sometimes tell me it’s hard to get a conversation started with teens, particularly if a librarian is new to the profession or to working with teens. Using survey results as a jumping off point is a great way to get going. The data provides a perfect opening to discussion, and when you demonstrate to teens that you really want to know what they think, they will tell you. Hearing what teens have to say first-hand only makes library services to the age group better. Give it a try.

Teen Tech Week committee has come up with a list of 25 things teens can do for Teen Tech Week. If you run into any teens that seem bored or want something to do, then hand them a list of 25 tech activities they may want to try. There should be no_bored_teens in the library during Teen Tech Week. And with these self-directed activities, all you have to do is spread the word by giving out the ideas.

Feel free to print out and distribute this list to teens and also consider sending it as an update on Facebook, MySpace, or Bebo.

25 Things you can do for Teen Tech Week

1. Download an eBook or audiobook onto your mp3 player.
2. Visit your local library’s webpage.
3. Blog about a library book or program.
4. Try out a book focused site like LibraryThing or Shelfari.

5. Create a soundtrack for your favorite book.
6. Ask your librarian to recommend a non-fiction book on an area of technology that interests you.
7. Add something to an article on Wikipedia.
8. Set up a podcast for a group or club you belong to.
9. Many young adult authors welcome email from their readers, and some even have their own MySpace profiles. Why not send them a message in honor of Teen Tech Week?
10. Check out some video games, DVDs or music CDs from your library.

11. Create an avatar on Yahoo! Avatars.
12. Start a Teen Tech Club at your school or public library.
13. Read and contribute to a blog about technology.
14. Practice your HTML skills on your MySpace.
15. Watch some anime or startup an anime club at your library.
16. Create a YouTube video about your library or a favorite book.

17. Download a newspaper article from the day you were born from an electronic database.
18. Volunteer to help clean the computers and media at your library.
19. Volunteer to tutor library customers who are new to using computers.
20. Learn how to DeeJay music or record music with a computer.
21. Search in a biography database for an article about your favorite musical artist.
22. Learn how to use some new software.
23. Take a class on graphic design or digital photography.
24. Create a database of something you want to organize.
25. Start a del.icio.us, Twitter or Flickr account.

Have more ideas? Leave them in the comments!