For many teens, technology has let them define old concepts in new ways. ‘ These new definitions can be worrisome, incomprehensible, even dangerous to librarians and parents. ‘ Yet perhaps it’s time we listen to the kids.

A few years ago, I participated in a project to provide middle schoolers with an online creative outlet. ‘ Co-sponsored by my library system and the local school district, the website was intended to give tweens a voice as well as teach technology practices. ‘ It took the steering committee of librarians from both organizations to establish rules and procedures. ‘ We were concerned about making sure that students’ privacy wasn’t compromised. ‘ We knew that unfortunately, to keep students safe, we had to go for stricter policies. Read More →

I am an unemployed librarian. ‘ This is not surprising considering the country’s 9% unemployment rate, coupled with the recent chopping of local and state budgets across the country. ‘ But being unemployed doesn’t just mean that I am out of work; it means that I am out of touch with libraries, young adults, and the daily goings-on of public libraries. ‘ I am not interacting with my peers or choice customer base each work day, so I am losing my grip on the contemporary issues involving libraries and most importantly, teens in libraries. ‘ How can unemployed (or, non-library employed) librarians ensure that they are staying relevant?

Aside from volunteering and going to the library as often as you can possibly can (without looking like you stashed something in the non-fiction section), the Internet is where it’s at. ‘ Start a Bookmark folder, Delicious account, Google Bookmarks account (whichever tickles your fancy) and start saving useful links to professional websites and blogs that you can check anytime you have a free moment. ‘ I have collected for you a few of my personal favorites that have been very useful to me (and my sanity) during the past six weeks of unemployment. Read More →

I’ve been thinking about this post for a couple of weeks. At first it was going to be a rant about the importance of accepting reading in different formats as reading. But, I’ve done that. Then it was going to be a post about how reading isn’t about format but about content. But, I’ve don’t that. Then it was going to be a post about lending clubs for digital devices. I just kept having different ideas about what a post related to technology and reading should focus on. Instead of selecting just one topic, I decided to write a post that covers a variety of topics related to the world of reading in the digital age. Here goes.

  • A little less then two years ago I wrote on this blog about the fact that I was reading more than ever because I was reading books using the Kindle app on my iPhone. Since that post I have only read one book in traditional physical form – a manga title that wasn’t available as an ebook at the time I needed to read it. Read More →

Teen Tech Week is a great time to start thinking about how to incorporate technology into your library services the rest of the year. Budgets are tight in libraries all over the country but technology keeps humming along, moving faster than we can keep up with monetarily. Teens specifically have an expectation that we should be keeping up. They aren’t wrong. So how do you advocate for enough technology funding to keep up with technology?

We shouldn’t stop proposing new ideas for service just because we don’t have a lot of money. It just means that we have to be selective with what projects we propose and very creative with funding sources. We also need to put as much thought as possible into the proposal before we go to management with it.
Read More →

Teens love to think that they know all there is to know about social networking and online safety. They figure, they grew up with this stuff and have had Internet safety drilled into their heads since they were in elementary school. The problem is, privacy on the Internet and especially Facebook is always changing. Yes, the fundamentals remain the same – don’t talk to strangers (especially adults), don’t meet anyone you don’t know in person, don’t tell anyone where you live or give them your phone number, and be careful what pictures you put of yourself online, oh and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Teens are pretty good at following these rules, but sometimes they make mistakes and the consequences can be devastating.

A teen I know very well, who will remain nameless, dealt with a pretty traumatic event towards the end of this past summer right before the start of the school year. Someone decided to create a Facebook persona with the sole purpose of saying who the hottest girls were at this teen’s high school. For reasons unbeknownst to me she decided it would be a good idea to accept this person’s friend request. Read More →

Welcome to Help Me YALSA!

I have always wanted to write an advice column. So, after I proposed a series of post in which you, them readers of the YALSA blog, propose solutions and tips for those struggling with a particular technology, I decided it would be fun to phrase it as an advice column. Of course unlike Dear Abby or Miss Manners, I won’t have all the answers. I’ll give some information, but it will be up to you, dear readers, to help each other.

So, without further ado, our first question.

Help me YALSA:

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about QB codes. I know these aren’t the things that Tom Brady has written on his wrist, but beyond that, I’m clueless. These just look like funny little boxes to me. What are they and how can they possibly be of use to me as a librarian?

Cold and Codeless in Maine

Read More →

Not much more than a year ago, I was that person who proclaimed I would never own a Kindle. I loved books as objects (I have bookshelves in every room in my house except the bathroom) and, let’s face it, I’m kind of materialistic. I like to own things, to collect. At the same time, I had bigger concerns about a possible future where everyone would need a device to be able to read a book.

Flash forward to today: I am a Kindle owner. What happened?
Read More →

I get frustrated sometimes when talking with librarians that work with teens and they tell me, “We can’t use that (insert the name of a technology) with teens because our computers won’t load it.” Or, they might say, “We can’t use that (insert the name of a technology) with teens because it’s blocked in our school.” Or, they might tell me, “We can’t use that (insert the name of a digital device) with teens because not everyone has those at home.” Or they might say…. I could give you several more excuses, oooops examples, but I won’t.

What makes me so frustrated is that in many instances, what librarians say to me does amount to a load of excuses. I know that they aren’t lying, but, really these reasons shouldn’t be accepted and librarians should be regularly working to change the “can’t'” to “can.” What happens when we just have a load of “can’t” is that teens in those schools and libraries end up being on the “wrong” side of the digital divide. And, from what I hear and see in libraries and with teens, this is a really serious digital divide that we are creating. It’s not a digital divide of have and have nots based on family/home economics. It’s a digital divide of haves and have nots based on how well teens are able to access current technologies in their libraries and learn how to use those technologies with the help of teachers and librarians. Read More →

Librarians looking for evidence that gaming programs are worthwhile may want to check out the new book by game designer Jane McGonigal.’  McGonigal appeared on the Colbert Report tonight to promote Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

In her interview with Colbert, McGonigal pointed out that 10 years of scientific research show that playing games is one of the most productive things people can do.’  The emotions gamers feel while playing can also spill over into the real world, so that they feel more confident and do better at tests, for instance.

McGonigal has been preaching the merits of massive, multiplayer games for years, as she did in this February 2010 interview on’  Besides making people happy, she says, games can help young people learn how to work together to solve real-world problems.

Playing the game World Without Oil, for instance, spurred gamers to change their daily habits, and to encourage friends and family to do the same.’  Last year she designed the game Evoke for young people in Africa.’  It’s a crash course in starting a business and tackling problems like poverty at a local level.’  Last August, 57,000 gamers’  were credited as co-authors of a paper for the journal Nature for playing a game (FoldIt) where the goal is to fold virtual proteins in new ways.

McGonigal wants gamers to realize that, just like their powerful avatars, they can be heroic and resilient when it comes to tackling the world’s problems. Right now, there are people playing games that could help them to cure cancer, end poverty and stop climate change.’  McGonigal’s goal is get 3 billion people around the globe to play games like these for an hour a day.