YALSA is really pleased to announce a new contest…Create Your Own Avatar. The contest is open all YALSA members or registered attendees of YALSA’s Gaming Festival. Voting will take place during the Friday evening Midwinter Gaming Festival with the finalists and the winner(s) announced that evening.


All avatar entries must be an original work and librarians are encouraged to team up with their TAG members or other teens in creating an award winning avatar. There is no fee for submitting the entry. Entry forms must be submitted to YALSA, yalsa@ala.org, by midnight on January 4, 2008. Avatars must be accessible online by midnigt on January 4, 2008. Direct any questions about the contest to Nichole Gilbert, ngilbert@ala.org.

What do you win?

All entries will be acknowledged with a certificate…yeah! Links to the finalists’ avatars will appear on YALSA’s website. The winning avatar may be used by YALSA in all marketing and promotional materials related to technology. The winner(s) will receive $100 worth of books, and will be interviewed for a YALSA article and press release.

Complete rules (including THE fine print) and Entry Form (in .pdf) are available on the YALSA website.

Meez and Zwinky are two sites that you can check out for help in learning how to create an avatar.

Brainstorm with your teens and create an avatar that really reflects how you see yourself interacting with teens @ the library, or how they see you. Most of all have fun!

Recently, I read the book, Mutant Message Down Under: Message From Forever by Marlo Morgan (Cliff Street Books 1998). which was the story of a woman who walked with the aboriginals in Australia and learned the wisdom of the tribes. Beatrice learns about names from her aborigninal friend.

“You can be called by any name you want. Your name is how you want the world to address you. It reminds you of any specific issue you are giving attention to on this portion of your spiritual path. My name, for instance, Benalal, meaning brown duck, was chosen because I have been too serious most of my life. There must be a balance between lessons and play. I admire the duck’s ability just to float for the fun of it…”

It reminds me of when teens have avatars. Whether it’s through Habbo Hotel, Whyville, or SecondLife, rather than facing a crisis of who their ‘real’ vs. ‘not real’ self is, I think they are creating a self based on their developmental stage. It’s a self that is about a specific issue they are giving attention to. When I read articles about teens who have avatars and that they must be identifying with something more fake then real, it makes me ask the question, what is real? who is defining what is real? Creating an avatar is a safe way to explore what issue teens are giving attention to at this moment.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usJames Paul Gee is one of the keynote speakers for the Gaming, Learning and Libraries Symposium by ALA TechSource this July. Next Thursday, at 2pm sl (PST) he will be available via live audio stream while trying on different avatars created by teens in Teen Second Life. Avatars are a digital representation of the self and give teens the opportunity for self-representation and to break out of any labels they might have been given in the offline world. Here’s how you can participate: Register for a free sloodle account here, click ‘yes’ when asked if you want to enroll in the course. Teens will know beforehand that there will be adults present. Don’t miss this free opprotunity! Can also launch this real player stream in a browser.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBeth’s post about the Emoticontest from Lansing, IL Public Library was popular throughout my library system as well as many others-as it is such a great idea! It made me think about sharing Mii’s (an avatar that you can also create from your PC) from this announcement by Nintendo who is developing a new channel for gamers to compare their Mii’s. What about having contests for teens on your library web site, as staff to introduce yourself, or as part of something to keep in the librarian’s toolbox to know how to do? Share your ideas or what you’re already doing with Mii’s at your library.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki