by Donna Block

My library is in the midst of a renovation project that makes planning Teen Tech Week programs difficult — mainly because we’re never sure whether we’ll have access to a room where we can hold events. Our current office space is located in what used to be a prime study area.

As a substitute to our traditional tech programs, we devised a QR Code Scavenger Hunt that can take place anywhere in the library, anytime we are open.


One of the pretty QR Code posters designed by our graphic artist. The link appears in orange.

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Hi everyone!

A quick update about the scavenger hunt — the QR code at the trivia night didn’t work! SO, the next clue is:

This TTW sponsor, in booth 2508, provides online tutoring services.

Thanks for taking part in the scavenger hunt! Have fun and good luck!

As mk notes in her CoveritLive post about yesterday’s awesome Innovations in Teen Services panel, I was scheduled to speak on the panel but was grounded at the airport for an unplanned six additional hours. While that’s a whole blog post in itself, and probably not even the worst flight horror story of the conference, I’d like to share a bit here what I did plan to present. Special thanks to my colleague, Catherine Haydon, ALA Emerging Leader, who stepped in at a moment’s notice and shared information regarding using outcomes with teens.

While defining outcomes for your teen programs and services, isn’t necessarily something new, we’re probably seeing a lot more on our radars in terms of the importance of telling our story as libraries, particularly because of limited resources that we’re competing for in our communities. Being able to share that we’re making a difference in the lives of teens, is one way that we can show as a library we’re bringing value to the community. At my library in Charlotte, NC we have a teen intern program where teens learn to create with digital media and teach others how to do this as well. Read More →

Are you at Midwinter and do you want to win some fabulous prizes? Then take part in the Teen Tech Week scavenger hunt, by following the QR code clues throughout the conference and online. If you reach the end and enter your name on the secret raffle page, you’ll have a chance to’ win a fabulous prize package from YALSA and our TTW sponsors, including’ a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of The Phantom’ Tollbooth‘ (signed by both Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer!), and a t-shirt from!

Head over to the TTW 2012 website to begin the hunt, and good luck! Thanks so much to our TTW sponsors for making this all possible.

Going to Midwinter in Dallas?

Win a fabulous YALSA prize package by being the first to complete the Teen Tech Week QR Code Scavenger Hunt! Participants will visit locations both in person and online throughout ALA Midwinter. Solve the clues, find the codes, and scan them into your phone’s QR code reader (visit this page for recommended apps for various platforms).

If you can scan all the codes, you may win an assortment of YALSA goodies. To participate, visit the Teen Tech Week website starting Friday, January 20th. (For more information on QR codes, visit the Wikipedia page on the subject).

Thanks to the Teen Tech Week sponsors for helping make the scavenger hunt possible. Good luck!

Over the past several weeks I’ve been teaching an online course for YALSA called Connect, Create, Collaborate. The focus of the course is on technology in teen services with a strong focus on how to integrate technology into traditional programs and services for teens – collection development, programming, outreach, readers’ advisory, and so on. Over the past five weeks students in the class have been creating lots of content in order to explore the possibilities.

Here’s a rundown on some of the topics covered in the course and what was discussed about and/or developed each week:

QR Codes

During the week that focused on how to create great teen services using tech, one of the topics discussed was QR codes. The QR code conversation brought out a lot of great ideas including ideas about adding codes to: 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

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As the recent post on the YALSA Blog, A Time to Reflect, noted, the end of the year is always a time to think about the past twelve months. As I tend to have technology as a focus in my life, I’ve been thinking a lot about what has happened in the technology realm in 2010. I’ve also been thinking about what I’ve seen in libraries as it relates to technology and teens. Here are some things bubbling in my head:

  • Video: Streaming video really took off this year with stories almost daily about new and improved services. NetFlix launched a streaming only subscription plan and made its instant queue available for viewing on mobile devices. Hulu Plus launched as a way for users of that service to access content on mobile devices. And, gaming consoles began to be used more and more as entertainment systems.

    Something else I’ve noticed this year is that more librarians are using video contests as a way to connect with teens. This is great as many teens are interested in producing and creating video content. However, I have one caveat for my peers. Video is not the end-all and be-all to connecting with teens. I do worry that some librarians are looking at video contests as the silver bullet for meeting teen technology needs and for integrating technology into programs and services. Please don’t. I actually think YALSA’s Why I’m a Member contest is a perfect example of how video can be used with a target audience as one way to connect. It’s not the only way, it’s one way. Read More →

“Why would anyone do that?”
“How does anyone have the time?”

The above are questions I hear regularly when talking with librarians about ways that technology is being used by teens, and by adults too. Most recently these are questions I hear when talking about check-in services. For some librarians the idea of checking-in to a location with FourSquare, Gowalla, or Scvngr, or using a site like GetGlue to “check-in” to let others know about current reading or viewing, seems totally off-the-wall.

As I think more and more about the questions I regularly hear, and how some librarians think about the way teens use technology, I realize again how important it is to separate one’s own experience and way of doing things from the development of library services teens need. Read More →

I’m lucky enough to have a job that gives me the chance to regularly talk with other librarians and educators about the work that we all do with, and for, teens in libraries and communities. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had a couple of conversations that got my brain going about ways to integrate some new, and newish, technologies into teen library services.

At this point apps aren’t really new. (Although new ways of using apps and new technologies that expand the capabilities of apps keep appearing.) People tend to know what they are and what they can do. A couple of weeks ago I began to think about what librarians that work with teens are doing to evaluate apps. I also began to wonder what librarians are doing to help connect teens with the best apps for particular purposes. Are librarians regularly looking at apps that teens might want to use and helping to get the word out about these apps? If they aren’t, why not? More and more teens are using apps and it seems to me that informing teens about good resources includes informing them about good apps. Read More →