I’ve been blogging for YALSA for almost year. Crazy to think I’m starting my second year of graduate school. Those job descriptions that come into my email box seem a little more real, and a little more attainable.

What makes me so excited about heading into the professional world of librarianship is when I get the chance to interact with other librarians, librarians that have experience and insight, insight that I hope to one day have. While I know they, technically, are my colleagues, I still feel a little out of their league. However, that doesn’t stop me from soaking up as much knowledge from them as I can.

I got an opportunity to meet a handful of other librarians (and YALSA) bloggers last week. Crystle, our blog manager, had arranged some Google Hangouts as a way for us bloggers to meet each other. I logged on Monday night, not quite sure what to expect.

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image of teachers learning tech by klbeasley on FlickrOver the past several months YALSA has sponsored and been a part of several activities focused on the future of libraries. These include the National Forum on Libraries and Teens and the Connected Learning month (MAY) all about the future of libraries. As I’ve participated in these events one thing has continually struck me as being at the heart of the future of successfully serving teens in libraries – physically, digitally, virtually – and that’s the importance of mentoring. This is mentoring of teens who take part in library initiatives and mentoring of colleagues who are learning how to be successful within new library models.

Consider these Twitter posts related to the topic of mentoring and the future of libraries:

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A weekly short list of tweets that librarians and the teens that they serve may find interesting.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between May 17 and May 23 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
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YALSA and Connected Learning TV go live next month! Next week, even!

Please join moi, YALSA President, and Crystle Martin, Postdoctoral Researcher for the Connected Learning Research Network, next month for a series of free virtual chats which will explore the roles social media and teens play in the future of public and school libraries. We’ll be facilitating discussions with Renee Hobbs, Mimi Ito, Craig Watkins, Chris Shoemaker, Wendy Stephens, Joyce Valenza and many more about the challenges surrounding leveraging social media in library programs. YALSA members are invited to participate and to share what has or has not been working in their own libraries. You all will be hearing about best practices from around the globe you can ‘ implement in your library.

Participants can watch in real time, connect via Chat with others, and ask questions on Livestream join the Connected Learning Community Google+ Page, and contribute to the #futureoflibraries conversation on Twitter. Be sure to check the YALSAblog the month of May, where discussions will continue there as well.

You can find out more here, including a nifty intro video!

Each virtual chat will begin at 1pm, eastern, and you can find out more on each individual series by clicking on the titles below. ‘ Please check the pages below regularly for updates as we add more speakers.

‘· ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  May 2: Kick-off: Teens and the Future of Libraries

‘· ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  May 7: The Importance of Youth Access to Technology in Libraries

‘· ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  May 14: Effectively Leveraging Social Media in Library Programs

‘· ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  May 21: Getting Library & IT Administrators On-Board with Leveraging Social Media

‘· ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  May 28: Teens and the Future of Libraries: Sharing Best Practices

After the last session, connectedlearning.tv and YALSA will put together a free summary report with tools and resources for librarians and library workers to use in their library.

Tune in all month! I can promise plenty of awesomeness!

Thoroughly in the swing of things now? Already bored with what’s going on? Happy but ready to add more programming and interest to your services? Whatever the case, maybe some of these innovations, research publications, and other cool tidbits will inspire you.

  • You know your patrons like games. And you may already know of some of the social justice gaming websites and programs out there, like Games for Change or Spent. Now it might interest you to know that there’s a new game out there designed specifically to target your ethics, not just to make you live in someone else’s shoes or support a cause. Quandary is its name, and it was designed by The Learning Network, a collaboration between MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Take a look at the game here, and then consider if your gaming club might attract new members with an interest in social justice, or if your volunteer group might like to try some gaming. Now that so many teens are so savvy at programming, you might be able to get a group together to create a game that tackles a local issue that they find important.
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    Yesterday the blogosphere and Twitterverse were abuzz with the news that Amazon was possibly going to start a book service that would work similarly to how NetFlix works for video. Articles appeared that mentioned libraries and even suggested that this move by Amazon was a nail in the library coffin. But, why would that be? It’s not really the end of libraries, it’s another example of how we are now at the beginning of lots of new opportunities. It’s another indication that we get to tell the library story that’s a story not about library as warehouse for materials but library as: Read More →

    Over the past several weeks The New York Public Library has been in the news – library, local, and national – because of projects and programs that have a lot to do with the way teens are served in the public library. In thinking about the recent news at NYPL, I realized that what’s been going on is a perfect example of where teen services have been, where they are now, and where they are headed. For example:

    • On Saturday, March 22, NYPL hosted the 79th Books for the Teen Age celebration. This annual event is the unveiling of the library’s print publication that highlights recently published titles of interest to teen readers. Authors, librarians, interested adults, and teens get together to celebrate the launch of the latest list. Obviously, in its 79th year, Books for the Teen Age is not something new. It’s an example of the kinds of services libraries have provided to teens for the past several decades.
    • Just the night before this year’s Books for the Teen Age celebration, NYPL hosted a historic event with its Game On @ The Library. 200 teens signed-up to play games at NYPL. Of course, libraries have been hosting gaming events for the past few years. What made this event so historic is that it was held in Astor Hall, the entranceway/lobby of New York Public Library’s probably most well known research facility. (The one with the lions out front.) This is a facility that has traditionally been seen and used as a staid and somewhat formal research facility. When you put 200+ teens and adults in the space to play games, staid is no longer the word to use. This event shows the library of today. One in which space is opened up to teens in order to meet their current needs and interests.
    • Then there is the library of the future. NYPL is in the midst of change. The Library recently announced that two of its primary Manhattan facilities are going to close. (One will close forever and one will close while a hotel is built and the library becomes part of a hotel/library joint-use facility.) The Donnell Branch of NYPL currently houses Manhattan’s Teen Central and this space is going to no longer exist – in its current form – and will eventually be re-envisioned in new teen space that will be in that same “lions building” where the gaming night took place. This is the future of library services at NYPL, but this can also be a model of what libraries around the country want to consider as they determine how to meet the needs of the teen population. Teen Central librarian, Sara Couri, talked with teens who currently visit the library’s Manhattan Teen Central to find out what they want and need for the new space. The podcast of their answers gives a good glimpse at the library needs of teens today and in the future.

    Change is not easy. Change is sometimes good and sometimes bad. However, all libraries need to constantly evolve in order to successfully serve the needs of teens – not just teens of the past, but of the current day, and the future. The recent events at NYPL can provide some food for thought about how to move from yesterday, to today, as well as look forward to tomorrow – in your library, not just in the big city of Manhattan, NY.

    What, did you read that subject correctly? Can it really be true? You are supposed to think about teen library services in the 22nd century when you haven’t yet made it past the first decade of the 21st century? Well, maybe not really 22nd century library services, but if you let yourself think past today, tomorrow, next month, and maybe the next 4 months, it should be easier to prepare yourself and your library for the world of 2010 and 2100.

    What is important to think about in preparing yourself and your library for the future of library services to teens? Consider:

    • Customization: Teens are more and more used to being able to set the parameters around how they use programs and services in all environments, including shopping, social networking, entertainment, and research. Libraries that serve teens effectively need to find ways to make physical and virtual programs and services customizable. That means customization in the same way that Facebook (and other social networking sites) provide customizable content. And it means customization in a more traditional sense, for example the ability to use library space for a wide-variety of purposes and needs.
    • Access: OK, access is a word that gets thrown around a lot in libraries, but think about it in terms of the ways in which teens need and want to access programs and services. It means providing teens with the ability to create a widget that guarantees easy connections to research information on a specific topic. It means easily downloading content from the library to a teen’s handheld device. It means teen librarians make themselves available in environments outside of the physical library space – Teen Second Life for example. All of these are examples of access that demonstrates a willingness to go to where teens are instead of requiring teens to come to where the librarian is. That’s key to access in 2007, and will certainly continue to be key in 2010 and beyond.
    • Going Beta: In order to support teens informational, recreational, and developmental needs, librarians have to be able to test things out in beta format. By testing and revising, and by being willing to go beta, teen librarians demonstrate to the community -adults and teens – that the library wants to make sure they’ve come up with the best way to provide service. Beta also demonstrates that feedback on services, before they are finalized, is important. Launching something in beta and saying to teens, let us know what you like and don’t like about this, works to improve service. Instead of talking and testing only among fellow librarians, go beta and find out what really works and doesn’t work from the people who are going to actually use the program or service under development.
    • Nimbleness & Flexibility: While it’s not always possible to get an idea today and make it happen tomorrow, librarians do need to find ways to break through bureaucratic processes in order to give/get teens what they want when they want it. IM, text messaging, VOIP, RSS feeds, downloadable video and audio, and the ability to upload and distribute content make quick and easy access – at least at times – a necessity. Waiting for the perfect solution isn’t a solution. The solution is to act quickly – taking things slowly often means missing the opportunity to actually provide the service needed.

    Of course it’s not really possible to figure out what library service will look like in 2100. However, if methods of service that support customization, access, beta testing, and nimbleness and flexibility are implemented, libraries have a good chance of being able to serve teens in 2010 (and perhaps even in 2100) in the way teens need and want to be served.