Over the past couple of weeks I’ve collected a variety of bits and pieces of information that I thought would be of interest to YALSA blog readers.’ Here’s what I’ve collected:

  • In mid-September IMLS (The Institute of Museum and Library Services)’ announced the National Leadership Grant awardees. The list of 44 institutions and projects includes several that are youth (and teen) oriented. ‘ These include:’ 
    Hennepin County Library’s project titled, ‘ Media MashUp: Public Libraries, Youth and 21st Century Literacy. This project focuses on developing best practices for innovative technology implementation.
    San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Studies project titled,’ Making Space for Young Adults in Public Libraries. This project aims to collect and analyze data on teen library spaces. The findings will be disseminated in order to help those serving teens create successful spaces for the age group.
    New York Public Library’s project titled,’ Homework NYC Widgets: A Decentralized Approach To Homework Help By Public Libraries.‘ This project focuses on the development of a suite of digital tools for students to use as a part of the homework process. It also includes working with teachers to help them understand the role these tools play in supporting student homework needs.
    Read More →

As some blog readers know, I’m a big fan and user of Twitter.’  And, as a result of my constant use of the technology, I find that often I need to search out information that I originally saw posted via Twitter.’  As I’ve become more and more of a Twitter searcher I’ve realized a couple of things.

  • First, Twitter is an amazing resource for locating information on current events. If you, or the teens you work with, are interested in news and views on almost any topic, searching Twitter is likely to not only lead to links to news from major media outlets, but also first-hand accounts from people involved in a particular event.’ ‘  Of course, when reading postings on the site that are personal in nature, as opposed to coming from an established media source, the information might need to be evaluated more stringently than information gathered from library databases.’  However, this need to evaluate provides a perfect opportunity for teaching and discussing evaluation skills with teens. Read More →

Even if you won’t be at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, starting next week, YALSA has you covered. This year you can follow the YALSA and teen related events via the YALSA blog, podcasts, and Twitter.’  Bloggers will be blogging, podcasters will be podcasting, and twiter users will be tweeting.’  Here’s how you can keep in the loop using YALSA’s various technology outlets:

  • Throughout the Conference YALSA bloggers will post information about the events and meetings they attend.’  If you want to be notified about updates to the YALSA blog subscribe to the RSS feed.
  • YALSA’s podcasters will be recording interviews and events throughout the Conference. Most of these audio files will be uploaded once Annual is over.’  Subscribe to YALSA’s podcast feed to receive notification whenever a podcast is published.
  • Anyone at Conference can post a Twitter message about YALSA/teen related events by using #yalsa within the body of the Twitter message.’  Anyone who wants to keep up on YALSA/teen related Conference happenings can view all messages with the #yalsa info by going to YALSA’s page on Twemes.

A lot will go on during conference but if you can’t be there don’t despair, YALSA will make sure you know what’s happening.

Recently I had a conversation, via Twitter, about teen librarian interest in exchanging ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). After that I started thinking about what it would be like if along with ARCs librarians were sent early releases of technology products in order to give teens a chance to test out the products at pre-release or in early stages of release. What if teens were able to test these technology products?
asus eeepc

  • Asus Eee PC – these ultra-light, ultra-small, and fairly inexpensive computers might be a great way for libraries to get computers into the hands of teens. If teens were able to review the PCs for Asus and the library they might come up with interesting ways to use the hardware inside and outside the library building.

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In the January/Februrary 2008 issue of American Libraries, Meredith Farkas in What Friends Are For writes about social technologies such as Twitter and Facebook which can be used as professional development tools. Farkas’ concluding paragraph is, “The next time you see a colleague logged into Twitter or Facebook while at work, don’t assume he or she is playing on the job. Your co-worker may just be learning something that will benefit your library and its patrons.”

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Being on the island in Teen Second Life when I took this snapshot in the sandbox reminded me of the article. The teen with the virtual cup of coffee in front of the DNA structure he was creating said he was doing this to help him with his bio test for tomorrow in school. Of course. The next time a teen is on RuneScape or MySpace at the library, maybe they are using it to help with their school work. Maybe they would be interested in knowing how other teens use similar tools for professional development something directly tied to a homework assignment if they hadn’t thought if it that way before.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

The title of this blog post is a quote from the Managing Editor of Time.com, Josh Tyrangiel, about using Twitter as a reporting tool. As I read this quote in yesterday’s New York Times I thought to myself, that’s exactly what librarians need to focus on when it comes to teens (or actually when it comes to customers of any age), being one option in their “circle of choice.”

Using the library should be one of the choices a teen might make when looking for materials, space to hang out, programs, technology, web tools, etc. Key in the phrase “circle of choice” is that the library doesn’t strive to be the only option a teen has or will make. The library actually accepts, recognizes, and promotes a variety of choices for teens. Instead of fighting the fact that teens might want to use Facebook, or Google, or Wikipedia for information and interaction, the library can work to help teens understand that the library fits right in the mix with those other tools as a choice to make when in need of information or recreational space and materials.

It is important to think about how the library gets into the circle of choice of a teen. Of course, part of that comes from the recognition mentioned above. But, something else Tyrangiel said also helps to highlight what it takes to get into the circle. He said, “If you tell people how to consume their content, they will ignore you.” Not only should the library not try to be the only choice a teen has for informational and recreational needs, the library also has to provide a variety of content and format options to a teen so that she can pick the right solution for a particular need. The library works to provide interaction opportunities in the physical library space as well as on blogs, wikis, via Facebook or del.icio.us, and so on.

In providing these options and getting into this circle of choice, a library needs to take the plunge. Getting into the circle will never happen if the modus operandi is to wait and see what format/setting ends up being the one teens want the most. Instead, libraries need to give teens the chance to use the tools of the moment in the moment. That’s what Time is doing (primarily for adults of course) by providing readers access to content via their web site, Twitter, the print publication, etc.

Sure, the technology might change, the tools of choice might change, a different generation might want something entirely different. However, if libraries get into a teen’s circle of choice by plunging and not waiting, providing options for content and format, and recognizing and promoting that they are one possibility within a circle of possibilities, once in that circle it will be easier and easier to move forward. This forward movement will happen both in more and more ability to easily update access and content options and in getting support from the community of teens, adults, and colleagues.

What would happen if libraries serving teens used Time as a model? Would that help libraries to be in a teen’s circle of choice? Try it and see what happens.

Recently, Twitter added a new feature that allows users to track a topic of interest. Tracking a topic means that any time someone posts a message about the topic a Twitter user tracks, that user gets notified of the post.

I decided to track the word teen. I’m not sure what I expected when I started tracking teen, but it’s been a very interesting experience. Each day I get notices of news stories about teens, mentions of web sites people launched that have to do with something teen related, info. on what people are saying about teen books, notices of events in teen second life, and more. Each day there are more teen related Twitter messages than I anticipated receiving when I started tracking the term. The number of Twitter posts with the word teen should mean that teens are in the forefront of what’s on people’s minds. Unfortunately, while teens are definitely talked about,
I do have to say that a number of messages on Twitter about teens are negative. Frequently, either a “bad” thing a teen has done, or something “bad” that’s done to a teen, is mentioned in someone’s Twitter message.

This has been a reminder of how important it is to regularly send out positive messages about teens. If a person were to track all the mentions of teen in your community, what message would they find that the local news outlets, schools, youth serving organizations, local government agencies, and the library are sending to the community? Is the message going out that teens are an important part of the community? Is the message that teens have a lot to offer and they need to be supported?

The more we can do to send out positive messages about teens, the more we’ll be able to successfully serve them. Take an inventory. Track teen in your community. What do you find?

You might want to consider using a Twitter widget on your library site/MySpace page to give updates for what materials teens at your library/you are reading/watching/viewing. It can be updated as often as you want. Good tie in for YKN @ Your Library for summer reading. Surprise readers with hints to events too. Might even want to surprise readers as to what librarians really do (on the job XD). 140 characters.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Beth G.’s post on ‘Social Networking: Not just for Teens’ made me think about using social networking tools in my own library system.

Even if you are not part of a large library system, (or even if you are), consider connecting to the community-places that might use social networking tools to share the work you are doing.

‘Add as friend’ is a common capability of such networking sites as (Flickr, MySpace, YouTube, Ning, etc.) This way, each branch or agency can preserve their autonomy but contribute to the whole by becoming a ‘friend’ with one another. Using social networking tools as part of our professional work also allows us to connect better with others who might not be librarians.

Add your ideas to the YALSA wiki page on using social networking tools with colleagues here. It’s not just about who has a MySpace page at their library but what can you do with it to increase your visibility for the great work you are already doing? Let the world know! Meet others besides librarians to connect with. Don’t see a group you’re interested in? Start one!

Try Twitter to connect with colleagues at the next annual conference! Not going to annual? Start a Twitter group for another conference you’re going to.

There’s the InfoTubey awards (to be announced next week at Computers in Libraries conference!) what about awards for teen services using social networking tools in innovative ways for users and with colleagues? Announce winners during Teen Tech Week!

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki