photo of two sneakered feet standing next to a tablet, notebooks, pencils From monthly webinars, to an e-course, to ALA Annual, YALSA has a lot of opportunities for you to take part in professional learning this summer.

Summer Webinars
First up is the June 16 webinar titled, Content Creation Tools for You and Your Teens. The session will be facilitated by Nick Grove from the Meridian Library. Nick is the digital services librarian at the Meridan (ID) technology center, unBound, in the heart of downtown Meridian. Anyone who participates in the webinar will leave knowing:

  • How to decide what content creation tools to use with and for teens.
  • How content creation can help support teen 21st century skills development
  • Where to go next to learn more about the topic

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You’ve made all your plans for Teen Tech Week and are just about ready to celebrate Mix & Mash @ your library, March 6-12. But as you finalize those details, be sure to include two contests from YALSA and TTW Promotional Partner in your plans! One contest, starting next Monday, gives teens an opportunity to win a Nook e-reader and a $50 gift card at Beginning March 9, you could win an e-reader too! Read on for details

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In today’s New York Times there is an article titled, Sorry, Boys This is Our Domain, that focuses on the ways teen girls are using technology to create and collaborate and even to make names for themselves in the greater world.

Teen girls highlighted in the article include:

  • Martina Butler who was the first teen podcaster to receive national sponsorship for her podcast, EmoGirlTalk.
  • Lauren Renner and Sarada Cleary who started the web site A Girls World.

It’s exciting to read about what girls are doing as content creators and collaborators. Obviously, technology provides expanded opportunities for teens of both sexes to make their ideas, art, music, and so on available to a world-wide audience.

At first when reading the article I thought, Wow, this is a great way to help teen girls succeed in the area of empowerment as outlined in the developmental assets by the Search Institute. Then I thought, I wonder how this translates into the technology-based programs and services libraries provide all teens (boys and girls)? Are libraries giving teens the kinds of opportunities to create and collaborate that they want and need? Then I wondered, what would it look like if the library did provide these programs that were very specifically focused on content creation and collaboration? Would it mean simply making sure all teens have the ability to create and collaborate on library computers? Does it mean the library should definitely host blogs, wikis, and such that teens can add to? Does a library give all teens the chance to teach younger children about online content creation and collaboration?

Probably all of the above, but I also wondered, what does this article mean to libraries in terms of the gender preferences outlined? Do we need to think about different programs and services for the different genders? Should programs about creating online video – which is said to be a format/activity with more boy participation than girl participation – be geared to boys more than girls? Should blogging workshops – which are said to be of more interest to girls than boys – be geared specifically to girls?

The answers of course can only really come from talking with teens. Check out the article to find out what research seems to show about gender preference related to content creation and collaboration. Then see what your teens have to say about things. If they say the article is all wrong, or if they say it’s all right, maybe you can have them create content by writing their thoughts in letters to The New York Times.

As I watch the news about the tragedy at Virginia Tech, there was a reporter from CNN that said this was the first time she remembers the volume of photos and video coverage being sent to them from the public about a particular incident. There was a psychologist on the news as well that talked about how many teens might watch the news frequently and feel the event is happening over and over. The global news coverage will affect teens everywhere and the librarians that work with them through such portals as Teen Second Life.

Since creating media and ‘putting themselves out there’ is an important part of adolescent development, why not create opportunities in the library for teens to respond? According to a 2005 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, half of all teens could be considered ‘content creators’. If they have anxiety and questions, what can we as librarians do to help that?

  • Put out markers and card stock out on a table for teens to create cards, scan the cards with a scanner and put them on your library web site or other site
  • Put a link on your library’s MySpace page to Odeo or Gcast where they can leave a podcast of their thoughts
  • project a collaborative whiteboard onto a screen so that teens in your library can come by and contribute
  • create a memorial in Second Life or Teen Second Life
  • Since some teens turn to MySpace for grieving for friends, why not send out a post from your library’s MySpace page or a list of chat sites they might find helpful to share their thoughts about?
  • have filming equipment? even a digital camera or cell phone? guide a short video with teens in how they can respond to yesterday’s events.

This just in from Andy Carvin’s presentation at the conference (more ideas! and his presentation is here:

  • BlogBurst is a USA Today initiated project where bloggers can be put on major media sites. Why not make this available to teens off your library web site so they too can contribute to the bigger world.
  • Bliptv and CNN worked together to submit video footage of news stories. Encourage teens to use this site to get their message out. Also through iReports.

According to Andy Carvin,, “no one entity has a monopoly on the conversation.” We as librarians serving teens can help direct them to participate in the conversation too.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki