Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Libraries as Innovative Learning Spaces

Here is a very interesting article from The Huffington Post on teens and education:

When Youth Own the Public Education Agenda
Mimi Ito

As a parent and educator who is also an anthropologist committed to appreciating youth perspectives, I stand at the cusp of two different learning cultures--one that is about youth-driven social engagement and sharing, and the other that is embodied in educational institutions' adult-driven agendas. My biggest challenge has been to find what it would take to get alignment between the energy that kids bring to video games, text messaging, and social network sites and the learning that parents and educators care about.

She particularly likes what Chicago Public is doing at their main library:

YouMedia is all about fulfilling the traditional goals of education, but through innovative means keyed to today's networked and digital media environment.

Here is a video:

Can we get this at the Monroe Library? Pretty please?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Distracted Can Teens Get and Still Function?

Early this week David shared this New York Times article with me, which is definitely worth discussion:

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction
Published: November 21, 2010

As a distractable (yet pretty productive) person myself, I found this article very interesting.

Sam Crocker, Vishal’s closest friend, who has straight A’s but lower SAT scores than he would like, blames the Internet’s distractions for his inability to finish either of his two summer reading books. “I know I can read a book, but then I’m up and checking Facebook,” he says, adding: “Facebook is amazing because it feels like you’re doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway.” He concludes: “My attention span is getting worse.”

And its not just the busy that seems to be the problem, but the effects of not getting true rest:

In that vein, recent imaging studies of people have found that major cross sections of the brain become surprisingly active during downtime. These brain studies suggest to researchers that periods of rest are critical in allowing the brain to synthesize information, make connections between ideas and even develop the sense of self. Researchers say these studies have particular implications for young people, whose brains have more trouble focusing and setting priorities. “Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body,” said Dr. Rich of Harvard Medical School. “But kids are in a constant mode of stimulation.”

If you want to see a great visual representation of how wired in teens are, watch the movie Easy A (I caught it at the Crest last night and thought it was the best teen movie I've seen in ages)...the gossip scene are a wonderful embodiment of the way teens have not just become wired in, but to each other.

Can they disconnect when they need to? Can you?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Article on Teen Bullying

A new article out this week on how teens perceive bullying in their lives:

"Bullying" Has Little Resonance with Teenagers
By Danah Boyd - November 15, 2010

The cultural logic underpinning bullying is far more complex than most adults realize. And technology is not radically changing what's happening; it's simply making what's happening far more visible. If we want to combat bullying, we need to start by understanding the underlying dynamics. And we need to approach interventions with an evaluation-based mindset. ... here's what makes bullying so difficult to address. So often, one person thinks that they're not at fault and that they're simply a victim of bullying. But those who are engaged in the bullying see it entirely differently. They blame the person and see what they're doing as retaliation. None of this is communicated, of course, so things can quickly spiral out of control without anyone really knowing where it all began.

I think the book Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia captures this beautifully, and heartbreakingly. Lack of empathy and a self-righteous sense of justification are a dangerous combination. I like to think that books and reading can be of help, but who is to say? But it can't hurt to try. Here are some bullying books for middle school kids.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Top Myths About Marketing to Teens

An interesting article from MediaPost's Engage:Teens blog.

9 Myths You Thought Were True
by David Trahan

There are some myths about marketing to teens that every marketer can learn from.

Myth #1: All teens want smartphones
Myth #2: Texting is the way in
Myth #3: Teens use Facebook the way we use Facebook
Myth #4: Teens are going to join Twitter
Myth #5: If you build it, teens will come
Myth #6: Teens are online all the time
Myth #7: Teens don't watch TV
Myth #8: Teen word-of-mouth happens online
Myth #9: Teens love online video

I found the article interesting for breaking down some "common knowledge" about teens, but also it is the first article I've seen separating teens from Millennials! I wonder what the generation following Millennials will be called?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Response to "Successful" Gaming

"We have a wide assortment of games available with some of the most popular being Super Smash Bros. Brawl, any Naruto title, Uncharted 2, Madden NFL, NBA 2K, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Ghost Recon 2, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Little Big Planet, and Batman: Arkham Asylum."

With the possible exception of Uncharted 2 and Madden, I guarantee those are not games teen boys are actually talking about. It's all well and good to talk about building community and providing stories in all forms, but many of those teens are coming to the library to play PS3- exclusive games (like Uncharted) because they do not have the console at home. After gaming they go home, sign onto Xbox Live and play Halo or Call of Duty(which no one in the profession can talk about because they are rated M).

Houston has a great program and kudos to them, I'm not writing this to critique their idea. But is does the profession no good to keep publishing the same article about gaming over and over. This is not Gaming 2.0, it is not progress to reaching new populations or imparting new knowledge to the readership. The most successful part of this program is the purchase of the PS3, a console that has not yet saturated the gaming market. Providing teens what they want is essential. Providing what they already have is no way to convince new users to leave their rooms and play at the library. Of course that is not mentioned in the article.

"children today have entire conversations that take place using a cultural frame of reference that comes from video games."

That is a great defense for providing access to gaming, but it isn't backed up by the choice of games Houston is offering. Teens are not talking about the narrative of Little Big Planet or the sports titles because there IS no story. And they aren't talking about Ghost Recon or Mortal Kombat because they don't care. If Houston was concerned with being relevant to today's teens they would not have selected games teens are actively not playing by choice and not by limited access.

Listing unappealing titles like Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Ghost Recon are just going to encourage librarians to buy those games for their own gaming programs. At some point libraries have to deal with the fact that Call of Duty and Halo are the most played, most demanded, most recognized titles. Teens ARE playing these games, teens are talking about them. Why aren't we?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Successful Ongoing Gaming

Here is an interesting article this week in American Libraries, revving folks up for National Gaming Day @ Your Library (which, no, we did not plan anything for...should we next year?). It focuses on the work the Houston Public Library has done to incorporate gaming into both their kids and teen spaces.

I love how it focuses on the community that has evolved around teens who are fans of the program:

What we discovered after a month or two was the formation of a community.... Players encourage each other through the most challenging games and play in a good-natured way that encourages others to join in. We have a library full of engaged teen boys and our only real issues have been language and trash from our two vending machines.

Many of our teens ride the bus for at least an hour or more to get to the Central Library and they do it on an almost daily basis. They have learned to cooperate and participate with other teens from all over the city. Race, age, and ability have little to do with whether or not they can join a group playing. They teach each other and learn from each other daily.

I wish we could offer ongoing programming like this...sounds like a great idea!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Tries to Censor Teen Sexting

Salon (and a variety of other sources) ran an article this week on Apple's attempt to introduce anti-sexting software. Aside from the ethical issues around trying to control the communications of people, this article nails a couple of very good points:

Good luck trying to keep up with ever-mutating teenage slang; they will find a way to say naughty things, even it means subversively co-opting wholesome phrases. If anyone can turn something as benign-sounding as "I'm going to church to pray" into secret code for nefarious behavior, it's teenagers.


I can't help but think that parents' best bet in trying to protect their kids will be as it has always been: to communicate with them -- preferably face-to-face.


Of especial interest to teen librarians: "The average 13- to 17-year-old sends and receives 3,339 texts a month -- more than 100 per day." If we can't find a way to connect with teens at this level, will we disappear completely below their radar?

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Video Gamers and Reading

David found a useful article that came out of the 2010 ALSC Institute:

Redefining Story
Jennifer M. Brown

Is there a difference between playing a video game and reading a story? Both have characters and a plot, and involve picking up visual and textual clues in order to move forward. Does it matter if one is on a screen and the other is on the page? Are gamers also readers? These questions formed the crux of the discussion at a panel called "Transforming Gamers into Readers" at the 2010 ALSC (Association of Library Service to Children) Institute held September 23-24 in Atlanta, Ga...

Includes suggestions for getting gamers reading, including book recommendations, magazines and podcasts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Databases on smart phones

This blog post on SLJ gives you a bit of a heads up on things we'll only see more of in the next few years.

Here's a demonstration:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Telling Teens It Gets Better

How many times do you hear of a tormented teen who has ended their life, and wish you could have told them it will get better? Dan Savage and his partner Terry created the It Gets Better Project, specifically in response to the suicides of bullied gay teens and their wish to prevent others from doing the same. They are encouraging others to make their own videos of love and encouragement, and a large number of people have already submitted one.

Here is Dan and Terry's:

Honestly, I think any struggling teen could benefit from hearing this message.

Please share with kids you know.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SnoGLOBE Gay-Straight Alliance Event

SnoGLOBE and PFLAG are sponsoring a a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) event for "youth, advisors, friends and family who might want to attend. It will be an "open mic" event for youth to participate in spoken word poetry, music, comedy or other forms of entertainment. It is also a way to meet other youth participating in GSAs. We hope you can join us."

This will take place Saturday October 2nd, from 3-6pm in Everett at 2804 Grand Ave.

Please share this with youth you feel might be interested!

Skype and Libraries

I'd heard about Skype for ages, but never tried it myself until I was at a family reunion in Texas last month and had the opportunity to chat with my cousin in Japan. It was so wonderful, we talked for 2 hours! By the end of the conversation, I felt like I knew her much better, and had the basic plans for a vacation underway.

Now I'm twice as determined to find ways to use this simple tool to enhance our library services. I'm been hoping to organize some author visits with bookgroups, but now with Skype's announcement of 10-way video/audio calling...I'm thinking it is time to try some online bookgroups with it!

Do any of you have experience with it? What would you like to try?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

CAYAS Workshops

This fall's CAYAS Workshop focuses on teens. From the CAYAS website:

Meeting the Challenge of Supporting and Engaging the Teens in Your Library

Presented by David Wilmes, Director of St. Paul Youth Services and Karen Kolb Peterson, Youth Services Coordinator, Saint Paul Public Libraries.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010
King County Library System Service Center
Issaquah, WA
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 4, 2010
North Central Regional Library Headquarters
Wenatchee, WA
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

More info to come on the CAYAS site.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mukilteo Library to be a Teens' Top Ten

Congratulations to the Mukilteo Library, whose combined teen book group and teen writing group have been selected by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) to be a Teens' Top Ten nominating group! For the next two years this group will receive ARCs (Advance Readers Copies) of upcoming books to review, discuss and nominate to be part of YALSA's Teens' Top Ten list, which is voted on in August to September of each year.

Happy news for the enthusiastic readers of Mukilteo :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Emerging Adults at the Library

Recently in Teen Services circles there has been a lot of talk about how we can best serve 18-24 year olds. Many of them do not want to leave the comfort of our teen areas or stop going to teen programs. Libraries across the country have come up with a variety of approaches. Some feel that to best serve both teens and these young adults continuing to keep firm boundaries of age limits at programs aids in emotional development. Others feel that to stop serving teens once they turn 19 is a type of abandonment. Will we hurt services to teens if we try to cater to this group? Should adult services be working harder to provide for them? What do we do when teen areas are filled with 20 somethings fraternizing with 13 year olds? How do we help them set appropriate boundaries?

These are questions we will be discussing at our September Teen Services meeting. Until then I'm hoping everyone attending will read this article and be prepared to discuss:

What is it About 20-Somethings?
Published: August 18, 2010

There is a movement: movement to view the 20s as a distinct life stage, which he calls “emerging adulthood.” He says what is happening now is analogous to what happened a century ago, when social and economic changes helped create adolescence — a stage we take for granted but one that had to be recognized by psychologists, accepted by society and accommodated by institutions that served the young."

If you won't be attending this meeting, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this complex subject in the comments!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Perhaps Twitter Can Help?

I'm personally a fan of Twitter, so while I've read that almost no teens use it and only a slim minority of Internet users in general even dabble in it, I found this article heartening:

Twitter Users Get Up Close and Personal With Brands by Jack LoechnerA new study released by ExactTarget finds consumers who are active on Twitter are three times more likely to impact a brand's online reputation through syndicated Tweets, blog posts, articles and product reviews than the average consumer.

The study supported the general findings that microbloggers have many reasons to follow brands they like. Though discounts and sales are toward the top of the list, news and information about a company and its products are primary. The survey of more than 1,500 consumers identifies top motivations for following brands on Twitter and provides new insight into consumers' expectations for interacting with brands online.

I was surprised when I spoke to a group of 7th graders yesterday to find some did use Twitter. I'd be interested in seeing how we might be able to connect with these kids and use their feedback and enthusiasm to strengthen our brand and spread the word. Ideas?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hotels Join the Struggle to Captivate Teens

Hotel resorts are struggling to find entertainment options for teens, otherwise they get bored and do things like "take pool chairs and throw them in the pool".

The Toughest Guest: a Teen
Hotels Try to Make Family Trips Fun; Mocktails Are OK, Dark Bonfires Aren't

The key to attracting teens, some hotels say, is giving them grown-up experiences—and setting limits. When Atlantis did a focus group with 50 teenagers earlier this year to find out what they wanted in a new teen club, the participants asked for the oversized beds popular in some adult spots, hot tubs and "cages to dance in," says Amanda Felts, vice president of guest activities and resort planning. "That's not going to happen."

Much in this article reminds me of lessons libraries have already learned. Kids who enjoyed programs in their single digit years, won't necessarily just go along with programs aimed at teens. One kid saying the activity is stupid can drive out a whole crowd. And one cute girl can have the opposite effect. And bribery works ;)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

YALSA's President's Program - Free and Online

This year YALSA's President was Linda Braun and her theme was Risky Business. One of the risks she took was endeavoring to put the entire 2010 President's Program online for free. It is a great program, with excellent speakers. If you can find an hour to watch it, I highly recommend doing so. We have also purchased Linda's new book: Risky business : taking and managing risks in library services for teens which is available in our professional collection.

The part I find most exciting is what the guests from the Search Institute have to say about their new initiative focusing on Sparks. The 40 Developmental Assets talk about what kids and teens need to thrive, but this is about what next? How can we ignite the hidden talents and strengths of the teens we work with? What are those secret things they get excited about, but are scared to bring forth because no one believes in them? I think this could be a wonderful follow up action for our Teen Project. I'd love to hear what y'all think of it, too.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Banned Books Week Coming Up

Banned Books Week is September 25−October 2, 2010. If you are planning a program for your teens, don't forget our publicity deadline for September is July 22nd.

Perhaps you would like to show movie versions of some banned books? Or maybe have readings of passages from banned books?

Or maybe you just want to make a display? Here are some ideas!

What fabulous things have you done in the past for this event?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Interesting Article on Dystopian Fiction for Teens

There is an interesting article on the New Yorker site this week about teen fiction:

Fresh Hell
What’s behind the boom in dystopian fiction for young readers?
by Laura Miller

The adult dystopia extrapolates from aspects of the present to show readers how terrible things will become if our deplorable behavior continues unchecked. The more utterly the protagonist is crushed, the more urgent and forceful the message. Because authors of children’s fiction are “reluctant to depict the extinction of hope within their stories,” Sambell writes, they equivocate when it comes to delivering a moral. Yes, our errors and delusions may lead to catastrophe, but if—as usually happens in dystopian novels for children—a new, better way of life can be assembled from the ruins would the apocalypse really be such a bad thing?

What are your thoughts? Favorites?

Our Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian teen fiction list, created by Jocelyn.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Steampunk and Teens

Steampunk certainly does seem to be growing. But does it have the strong appeal with teens that has been forecast?

Here is a panel from BEA with Scott Westerfeld, Cherie Priest and Cory Doctorow that explores "Steampunkery: Why are today's teens embracing 19th-century technologies?"

Steampunk Panel - SLJ Day of Dialog, BEA 2010 from School Library Journal on Vimeo.

What do you think? Are your teens into it?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Adorable Teen Clique: Texas Werewolves

Ok, this isn't groundbreaking news. Teens want a group they can feel is their own. This clip from a local San Antonio news show captures this perfectly.

I'm amused that they claim they are not trying to get attention.

Any interesting groups evolving in your communities?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Second Guessing Social Networking

At last week's Teen Project seminar, David M. mentioned this article from the New York Times:

Antisocial Networking?
How Does Technology Affect Kids' Friendships?
Published: April 30, 2010

One of the concerns is that, unlike their parents — many of whom recall having intense childhood relationships with a bosom buddy with whom they would spend all their time and tell all their secrets — today’s youths may be missing out on experiences that help them develop empathy, understand emotional nuances and read social cues like facial expressions and body language. With children’s technical obsessions starting at ever-younger ages — even kindergartners will play side by side on laptops during play dates — their brains may eventually be rewired and those skills will fade further, some researchers believe.

What do you think? Should people be more concerned? Can libraries provide essential face time?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Video games score one for literacy

For every time we cringe at the movie tie-in cover:

"I was at the library Reference Desk ready to answer questions and help people find stuff when a teenage boy came up to me looking for Catcher in the Rye. I checked the catalog for Salinger and didn’t see any hard cover copies available so I walked the kid over to the uncataloged Classic Paperbacks. His mom followed behind us and while I was browsing the S’s I overheard this incredible bit of dialog.

‘Hey, Mom! See this book?’ He grabbed a copy of Inferno, the first book in Dante Alighieri’s trilogy The Divine Comedy. ‘Remember that game you bought me? This is the book it was based on, but this book is even sicker the game! It was awesome!’"

via Game Couch.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Teens Prefer Texting

Kathleen forwarded this interesting article to me this week:

American Teens Say Texting is Favorite Way to Communicate

In the past week, using its SMS text-messaging service, ChaCha asked nearly 1500 teen and young adult users: "What's your favorite way to communicate?" Their answers:

Mobile Text 67.53%
Mobile Call/Voice 9.22%
Facebook 8.84%
Instant Message 2.88%
Email 0.29%
*Other 11.24%

I find this pretty fascinating. I've heard for a while that teens found email "old fashion" (which pains me). I like email and still prefer it myself...though I do enjoy texting. Maybe we do need to reconsider how we communicate with teens. Though perhaps this is just preferred with peers? I'd be curious to see statistics on that.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Choose Privacy Week

We are in the middle of Choose Privacy Week!

Choose Privacy Week Video from 20K Films on Vimeo.

So much interesting stuff to think about here. What are your concerns?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How Fast Are Teens Growing Up?

There is an interesting article this week in the New York Times reflecting on a new study by the MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood called “What’s Going on With Young People Today? The Long and Twisting Path to Adulthood”.

The Slow, Winding Path to Adulthood

Many a parent believes that their children are growing up too fast. Eight is the new 12, and 12 is the new 18. Today’s middle schoolers dress like adults, know how to swear like adults and are exposed to drugs. They also know about sex, talk back and reach puberty earlier than we ever did.

But then, they stop. And reverse. A study by researchers at Oregon State University, which appears this week in the journal Transition to Adulthood finds that “despite living in an age of iPads and hybrid cars, young Americans are more like the young adults of the early 1900s than the baby-boom generation: They are living at home longer, are financially insecure and are making lower wages.”

The gist of the article seems to be that there is no set or normal age for maturation within our culture or species, but it seems to have a lot to do with financial ability as much as anything.

How do you see this manifesting with teens in your life?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reducing Risky Behavior Through Reading

Michael Cart has an interesting article out this week in American Libraries:

A Literature of Risk
By Michael Cart
Teens dealing with violence and other risky behaviors can get help from young adult fiction

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Booktalks @ AMS

I did something a little different with prezi this time. This wasn't a visit like what we do when we go to present summer reading, this was a more casual drop-in lunch in the library of one of my middle schools. It was a two day engagement, so what you see here reflects the additions I made after the first day, when I learned they wanted more zombie and apocalypse books (I was more than happy to oblige).

SO, what you'll see here is that there is no path, no slideshow, PowerPoint-esque intended order to the presentation. Students would walk in on the "What to Read" text, and we'd chat for a couple minutes so I could remind them who I am, etc. Then I'd scroll out, and ask them what they wanted to hear about. They'd indicate a cover, I'd booktalk it, we might talk a little about other books they or I know of that were similar, then we'd move on to a title another student wanted to hear about.

The library media specialist wanted me to bring books that her students could check out from me. I wasn't sure exactly how that would work out at first, but I, by exploiting my poor personal library record (at the time), realized that the OPAC reveals a patron's standing, whether it's good or limited, or blocked. Students who had their library card or knew their number would log onto their account, I'd verify that they were in good standing and then I'd just write down their numbers and the item numbers to check them out manually when I got back to the branch. It worked out great, and I'll definitely do it again. I of course, got an okay from the branch manager to do that.

We only had the lunch period (three lunches total), so we weren't necessarily able to get through all of the books, but that's the way I always design my school visits - I want them to realize there's definitely more at the library than I can talk about in 30 minutes.

It was also a great way to use the Explore and paperback titles. I had multiple copies and then could meet demand when five kids all wanted the same book. Two days was great for this because students who forgot their Sno-Isle library card the first day could come back the second day and hope that the book they wanted would still be there. The school library media specialist and I are now planning to do one of these a month starting in the fall, and hopefully the entire event will become routine for everyone.

I also deliberately had both old and new titles. I wanted to make sure that some of the books I talked about were available in the school library for those who didn't have public library cards. And frankly, almost everything is new to THEM. In case it isn't, it's kinda nice to have a kid attest the awesome (see: The Ranger's Apprentice). Gives ya cred. ;)

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
Bloody Jack by LA Meyer
Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
Cut by Patricia McCormick
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
Green Angel & Green Witch by Alice Hoffman
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Messed Up by Janet Nichols Lynch
Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by Ehrich Van Lowe
Northlander by Meg Burden
Outlaw: the legend of Robin Hood by Tony Lee
Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas
Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan
The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks
Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins
The Rock and the River by Keekla Magoon
Samurai 7 by Akira Kurosawa & Mizutaka Suhou
Swim the Fly by Don Calame
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien
Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby

To see the actual booktalks click here.

I'm now afraid I might run out of books. I need to read faster.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Edible Book Festival - Should We?

Jackie sent on this delightful article about a program that the Calvin College Libraries did:

Calvin College celebrates its first book-eating contest

Calvin librarian Lois Dye, a self-proclaimed "foodie," founded Books in the Baking this year after learning about the International Edible Book Festival, a similar contest that has been celebrated worldwide on April Fool's Day -- or as they like to call it, Edible Book Day -- since 2000.

Seems to me this could be a delightful inter-generational program. Think we should try for it next year?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Love Tearjerkers? Here is a Great Display Idea!

I don't know about you, but I LOVE books that pull my heartstrings and evoke sniffling. Some of my favorites are the lovely picturebook Faithful Elephants, If I Stay, Last Days of Summer, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and especially The Time Traveler's Wife.

Lynn Rutan and Cindy Dobrez made this fantastic interactive Sob-O-Meter display where teens get to add books and rate the level of weepiness. I love the huge gage and giant tissue boxes!

What are your favorite tearjerkers?

Don't have one? Check out our teen booklist - Tearjerkers: Books to Make You Cry

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cracking Down on Gangs in Snohomish County

Gang signs: a growing battle for the soul of Snohomish County's streets

Police, advocates for children and families, and other community leaders are working together to find the answer. Snohomish County was awarded more than half a million dollars to combat gangs and youth violence.

This is a tough topic and may seem beyond individual community agencies, but if we all work together, I truly believe we can make a difference.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I don't know if anyone else has been following the headlines about the teens facing criminal charges for bullying Phoebe Prince, but I have. I found an interesting article about traditional responses to bullying as well as a strategy that has thus far proven to work well.

Here's the article: Bullies: They can be stopped, but it takes a village.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Books Gonna Be a Good Book...

I seriously would cry tears of joy if someone entered something in the teen video contest this great:

From Marin on our Collection Developments blog:

Oprah interviewed the students on Friday’s show via satellite and delivered the news that along with the help of a corporate sponsor, the school’s library will receive 2,000 new books and brand new computers. pretty cool.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Legality of Teens as Sexual Beings

Ever since I attended the ALA annual meetings in Chicago last summer, I've been following the blog of Dr. Marty Klein: Sexual Intellegence: Sex--and Culture, Politics and the Media--and Sex. I was immensely impressed with Dr. Klein, who spoke at YALSA's program Sex in YA Lit: From Blume to Block and Beyond. He is a sex therapist who has very solid opinions about how to raise healthy teens, most of which focus on recognizing that they are sexual beings whether we like it or not, and that teaching them to feel ok with themselves is immensely important.

Today he posted a piece about the recent court decision that determined teens can not be tried for child pornography for sexting photos of themselves:

Court Finally Limits Persecution of Teen Sexuality

The good news is that our judiciary has finally told prosecutors enough is enough. A U.S. Appeals Court just upheld a preliminary injunction barring local prosecutors from filing felony child-porn charges against a teenage girl who took a topless photo of herself with her cellphone...

Hopefully none of this will effect us in libraries, but it is a very interesting part of the bigger picture of teen rights, development, and culture that is worth knowing about.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Future of Publishing

From DK, how the next generation feels about publishing:

Which, if you know, is a take on this:

But obviously, they have the same core message.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Awesome Interactive Storywriting Idea

One of the interesting things coming out of SXSW is an interactive storywriting competition:

Starting this Friday, March 12th at 10 AM central time, we’ll be hosting an interactive storytelling exquisite corpse-esque competition over at The Future of the Story. How it works:

  1. Follow us on Twitter to receive the kickoff sentence for each story (contributed by some of your favorite web storytellers)
  2. @ reply to @itwasadarkand with what you think happens next; your sentence will show up here
  3. Vote up the best sentence
  4. Every round, the winning sentence becomes part of the story and it’s time to write the next!

Once each story closes, we’ll be adding it to our story archive where it will be given a title and illustrated by Figure-1. AND (just to make things super extra saucy fun) we’ll be choosing one contributor from each story at random to win a choice of radtastic books (either Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More, or Jeffrey Zeldman’s A Book Apart), AND the original, signed illustration that accompanied their story!

I know Kathleen's writing group at Mukilteo Library already does some group writing with elements of this. Seems to me this could be a fun contest in person or online!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Great documentary on PBS: Digital Nation

Last week PBS aired a Frontline that has been getting a lot of buzz:

Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier
Episode One: Distracted by Everything

Sound like anyone you know?

How might this effect the way we try and serve teens in libraries?

What do you think?

Friday, February 5, 2010

"How Video Games Can Help"

From Frontline:

"They may be able to teach problem-solving skills better than textbooks. James Paul Gee is a leading proponent of developing video games for education and a professor of literacy studies at Arizona State University. His most recent book is Good Video Games and Good Learning."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What happens when we succeed?

One thing I often think about, is the fact that while many people say they want teenagers to hang out at the library, they are often unprepared for what happens when they actually do.

Such as what Boston Public is currently experiencing at one of their great new branches:

Trouble touches an urban oasis
Struggling to keep peace at new Mattapan library

Mattapan residents spent more than a decade pushing for a public library in their neighborhood, to be an intellectual hub amid the nail salons and corner stores and to help occupy young people who might otherwise stray to the streets. Last year, they got their wish, a sparkling, $17-million glass-and-marble building with an abundance of books, learning materials, and programming.

But they also got an unexpected problem: throngs of young people who have daily overwhelmed the library’s staff of eight and created a hot spot for trouble. There have been fights, thefts, and a host of problems inside and outside its doors. Police have stepped up foot patrols in the area and had officers inside the building, but a library meant as a haven has instead become a worry for some parents.

Public officials give a lot of lip service to community services for teens, but do they really think about what success looks like? And what comes next once you have built it and they have come? If your library is full of teens, how do you manage it? If your library is picked as a Teen Center, how will you prepare for success?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Report on Youth Suicide

I received this in an email today, and thought you might all be interested...

Youth suicide prevention plan offers guidance to intervention

OLYMPIA -- Washington's youth suicide rate remains higher than the national level, and the state is taking steps to turn that around. A new statewide plan offers tools and resources to help keep young people in Washington from taking their own lives.

Washington's Youth Suicide Prevention Steering Committee developed "Washington State's Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention" ( The committee includes suicide experts and health professionals from across Washington.

"It's a tragedy whenever a young person commits suicide, or hurts themselves trying to do so," said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. "We hope that Washington residents will see this plan as a guide to prevent youth suicide in their communities. It's not any one agency's plan. It's a plan in which everyone wanting to prevent youth suicide can find a place for their work."

On average, slightly more than two youths in Washington kill themselves each week. About 17 more are hospitalized after suicide attempts. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Washington youth. Nearly twice as many suicides as homicides kill people between 10 and 24 years old. Our state's youth suicide rate is higher than the national average. Between 2002 and 2006, the rate was 8.3 per 100,000 in Washington. This compares to a 7.0 average for the nation.

However, suicide can be prevented. The new plan provides a framework for individuals, organizations, communities and agencies to end these tragedies. For instance, anyone who knows a youth is considering an immediate suicide attempt should call 911. People who see warning signs should contact a mental health professional or call 1-800-273-TALK for a referral.

The plan gathers up-to-date information and statistics. This includes information from a variety of state and national sources, including the most recent Washington Healthy Youth Survey of school students.

The document identifies warning signs and risk factors for teen suicide, as well as factors that can protect against it. Warning signs include a previous suicide attempt, current talk of suicide or making a plan, and a strong wish to die or a preoccupation with death. Others are giving away prized possessions, signs of depression, increased alcohol and/or other drug use, and hinting at not being around in the future or saying goodbye.

It also identifies the economic cost to society. For example, the 120 youth suicides in Washington each year cost an estimated $231 million in medical bills and lost productivity. The 892 hospitalizations cost an estimated $18 million.

The plan has five goals:

Goal 1- Suicide is recognized as everyone's business.
Goal 2- Youth ask for and get help when they need it.
Goal 3- People know what to look for and how to help.
Goal 4- Care is available for those who seek it.
Goal 5- Suicide is recognized as a preventable public health problem.

"Washington State's Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention" was developed under the leadership of the Department of Health's Injury and Violence Prevention Program. It was funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration.

You can get a copy of the plan ( online, or by calling the program, 360-236-2800. If you are concerned about a youth who may be depressed or suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or find help on its Web site (