Thursday, December 8, 2011

Plan to Geek Out @ the Library - All Year Long

Teen Tech Week is coming up, or Teen Tech Month as we celebrate it here at Sno-Isle.  The theme this year is Geek Out @ Your Library.  What do you think?  Will this alienate teens, or appeal to their nerd pride?

Looking for program ideas?   Check out the Teen Tech Week blog YALSA has put up. They have a nice starter list of event and activity ideas.

Also, don't limit yourself to March for planning geeky programs.  Teens (and the rest of us) geek out on something because we feel absurdly passionate about it.  Here is an awesome calendar of upcoming geek events for 2012 from CNN's Geek Out blog.

What do you personally geek out about?  How could we make that into a teen program?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Librarian Role in Kids' Searching Skills

There has been quite a bit of buzz this month about Clive Thompson's November 1, 2011 Wired article Why Kids Can’t Search.  Mostly it seems to be a great argument for school librarians:

Consider the efforts of Frances Harris, librarian at the magnet University Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois. (Librarians are our national leaders in this fight; they’re the main ones trying to teach search skills to kids today.) Harris educates eighth and ninth graders in how to format nuanced queries using Boolean logic and advanced settings. She steers them away from raw Google searches and has them use academic and news databases, too.

Works great if you get classloads of kids visiting your library regularly, but what can those of us in public libraries do to help kids master “crap detection 101?”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Should Ghosts Own the Night?

Came across this great little article from last month on

Ghosts Are the New Vampires by Mary H. K. Choi  

Think about it: Ghosts are just extra-emo versions of us. They are forlorn and lousy with issues—attention whores, the lot of them, caught up in personal dramas and pining for an audience...Ghosts are the millennials of the monster pantheon. They need to get it together, be more self-sufficient, stop seeming desperate for so much workshopping. They’re constantly trying to outsource their dirty work—make the living talk to their loved ones, avenge their untimely deaths, move out of their house (no matter how underwater the mortgage). Rattle your chains off my lawn...

With next summer's teen reading them being Own the Night, what better focus that GHOSTS! Some much fun non-fiction and great fiction out there. What are your favorite ghost books for teens?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting Involved With YALSA

In my years as a librarian, one thing that has really helped me gain experience, community and reinvigorated me is my involvement in YALSA.  As you probably know, YALSA is the Young Adult Library Services Association.  Through YALSA I have participated in exciting committees, met awesome authors, and traveled to cool places for conferences.  More importantly it has helped me become an articulate and confident speaker, and given me ample opportunities to give back to the profession I love.

If you are interested in finding out how to get involved with YALSA, they have a website show you how to get involved, including a free webinar you can check out.

If you have any questions about YALSA involvement, and how to get started, please feel free to let me know!  I've been on Popular Paperbacks, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee, Great Graphic Novels, and the YALSA Board.  Currently I'm serving on the Nomination Committee.  Even if you aren't ready to go to conferences, there are many virtual ways to get involved!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Should Libraries Offer Programs on Hacking?

School Library Journal has an interesting article posted this week about organized educational efforts, including conference workshops, to introduce kids to hacking:

License to Hack: Kids are getting into hacking in a whole new way. And that’s a good thing.

Workshops covered picking locks—the school locker variety—Google hacking, and coding in Scratch, a programming language for children. In a session entitled “Meet the Feds,” kids were invited to press the flesh with agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency and chat with them about “intelligence gathering, cyber weapons, war strategy, and more.”

It’s an interesting convergence, with the global exploits of hardcore hacker groups Anonymous and Lulzsec in the background, but hacking—in various forms—is another way in which kids are engaging technology and one that’s evolving.

What do you think? Is this the sort of thing libraries should be dipping our toes in? Is this how we get teens truly interested in new technologies, or is this getting into ethically dodgy ground?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Teen Slang - Know It (But Maybe Avoid Trying to Use It) has a great list of slang taken from MTV's new show Awkward:

Should You Offish Add These New Abbrevs & Slang Words to Your Vocab?

How many of them have you heard used by real live teens? What new slang have you heard recently your peers might want to know about?

I would seriously hesitate before deliberately incorporating any of these in conversations with teens if you are trying to look cool...because that stuff always backfires! But knowing what they are saying is a good advantage to have, both so you can be understanding, and have a bit more of a clue as to what really is going on around you ;)

Other teen slang sources:

Friday, September 23, 2011

National Geographic Covers Teenage Brains

The October National Geographic magazine's cover story is on Teenage Brains. Online you can read a great article called Beautiful Brains:

A few researchers began to view recent brain and genetic findings in a brighter, more flattering light, one distinctly colored by evolutionary theory. The resulting account of the adolescent brain—call it the adaptive-adolescent story—casts the teen less as a rough draft than as an exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptable creature wired almost perfectly for the job of moving from the safety of home into the complicated world outside.

Be sure to check out the wonderful photo gallery that goes with the article!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Making Things at the Library Helps Build Skills

Wired has a terrific article about the value of kids making things and getting creative, and how this gives them advantages going into the future. The article focuses on Maker Faire a celebration of creativity and ingenuity that takes place in San Mateo, California.

Want Kids to Win the Future? Turn Them Into Makers — and Sci-Fi Fans
By Angela Watercutter
“If you look at [Steve] Jobs and [Steve] Wozniak, they were makers,” Bushnell said in a phone interview with “The more we can turn the nation into a nation of makers, they will be smarter, they’ll be better problem-solvers, and they’ll be more equipped for the problems of tomorrow.” ... “When I hired engineers and people on the creative side, I never looked at their grades,” he said, referring to the teams he built at Atari and beyond. “I interviewed them strictly on their hobbies, and if they did not have a hobby in technology I wouldn’t hire them….

How can we introduce teens to new interests and hobbies? Alas, there is not such a fair for the Seattle area yet (there is a mini-one in Kitsap County today...with some good ideas to borrow too), but this is something libraries definitely be able to provide for kids and teens.

I love the idea of stealing many of their program ideas and doing them in our libraries. Already our kids librarians are doing more with Legos. Should the their be Teen sets too? Would teens come to a program on LED projects beyond throwies? What about musical bots? A modified Xbox360 controller? Or maybe an Extreme Marshmallow Cannon? For more ideas, check out the Makers Faire program guide here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Line Betweem Dependence and Addiction?

Some interesting and not terribly surprising statistics were revealed in this article, summarizing a recent study:

Digital Dependence of Today's College Students Revealed in New Study from CourseSmart™

Findings show college students feel helpless without technology—checking their devices at least every 10 minutes and foregoing face time for Facebook.

There are so many alarmist reports out about youth's dire need for technology (don't you love the dark image above, found by the image search "facebook addiction"...there are some doozies!). Clearly many youth feel totally dependent on it now. When does that become addiction? Were we saying the same thing about teens and telephones in the 1980s?

I often find myself of two minds. One one hand, I know how good I feel after I'm unplugged for a weekend, as I was a few days ago to go camping. Time slows down. Conversations happen. Exercise occurs naturally. I even read a few books. On the other hand, I believe technology is just how our species is evolving, no good or bad about it, it simply is. That is very easy to see M.T. Anderson's Feed becoming a reality all too soon. What do you think? Are teens ready to be plugged in full time? And what are the risks we face with this step?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More Social Networking Stuff

I find social networking and the ways young people and adults utilize things like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to be extremely interesting and I think services like these provide 'instant windows' into our culture in a real-time manner that hasn't been previously possible. Much like your Fred Meyer card allows the store to collect information useful for marketing and sales much faster than was ever possible in the past, Facebook and its clones allow us to look at our relationships, how people interact with others, and observe how certain societal mores change or develop at nearly the same speed that Freddy's can see that you prefer Tostitos over Santitas. I saw a couple of articles today on about dealing with 'online haters' and about Facebook trends that made me remember the article Dawn shared on 'Facebook Depression', so I thought I would share these as well for other people interested in this kind of thing. There is some good advice in the 'haters' articles and some interesting information about how 'Facebooking' has influenced, or at least given us an easier way to observe, how young people interact with each other. The stories aren't necessarily teen-centered, but I think they have a lot of relevant information in them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Video Engagement, Beyond the Flip

Some of our libraries purchased Flip cameras to create promotions with teens. Use up till now is still limited, but I would love to see programs and projects developed around this idea. However, the Flip is no longer going to be produced, which is too bad, as it is super easy to use. But happily there are plenty of other tech tools waiting in the wings. PC Magazine has a great article covering this topic: Ten Top-Notch Flip Video Camera Alternatives.

So what sorts of things can libraries do with a video camera to promote all things teen? Social Media Examiner has a great article with lots of ideas that we can use: 26 Ways to Engage With Customers Using Video.

How can you see some of these ideas being used with teens at your library?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Social Networking Impact on Health Explored

Terry found this very interesting article, that I think is worth taking a look at:

"Pediatricians are adding another topic to their list of questions for visits with school-aged and adolescent patients: Are you on Facebook? Recognizing the increasing importance of all types of media in their young patients’ lives, pediatricians often hear from parents who are concerned about their children’s engagement with social media. To help address the many effects—both positive and negative—that social media use has on youth and families, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new clinical report, The Impact of Social Media Use on Children, Adolescents and Families in the April issue of Pediatrics (published online March 28). The report offers background on the latest research in this area, and recommendations on how pediatricians, parents and youth can successfully navigate this new mode of communication."

I like that it spells out benefits in addition to more worrying issues. Seems like sleep deprivation is becoming a national problem, eh? First time I've heard of "Facebook depression".

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Teens Want to Geek Out @ the Library

Next year's Teen Tech Week (or for the more ambitious of us Teen Tech MONTH) theme has been decided. Teens voted on the theme through YALSA's website and picked Geek Out @ Your Library.

I'm perfectly happy with this as a self professed book and comics geek, but then again I've never had a problem with the image issues a lot of people seem to feel libraries should be fighting. Maybe it is time that we not only embrace our Marian the Geek image, but really market it? A few years ago at one of our Teen Project meetings with our Marketing folks as guest speakers then mentioned that we gear our marketing toward the overachievers, those kids in honor society, sports, plus an elective getting them into college, with the idea that if they come to the library, others will follow. Perhaps this might be a good strategy for database promotions and volunteer recruitment, but for getting teens to attend programs and develop a real library fan base? I question this.

Perhaps it is really time to reach out to our fellow, younger geeks. To say do you love books, knowledge, and individual thinking? do we!

Having just read Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern, I can't help but think that the nerd and geeks have always been our most loyal, if quiet, users and need to be embraced and celebrated. And admitting our love for them shouldn't be hard, but like Marian the Librarian, worrying about other people's perspective hangs us up (though really, she is a kick-butt librarian). Perhaps by admitting, yes hanging out at the library can be a mega-geeky hobby, we can revitalize our fellowship, and give it the place in this glorified golden age of geek culture it deserves.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another Pro-Gaming Article

Video Games Boost Brain Power, Multitasking Skills
December 20, 2010

I forgot to post this article when it came out, on some recent studies praising video games for youth.

"...studies show that video gamers show improved skills in vision, attention and certain aspects of cognition. And these skills are not just gaming skills, but real-world skills. They perform better than non-gamers on certain tests of attention, speed, accuracy, vision and multitasking".

Something to share with concerned parents and patrons?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How Much Do Teen Lie? And Why?

Recently I read a very interesting chapter in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's book Nurture Shock: New Thinking about Children. I had heard about this from a library school class I was guest speaking at and knew I had to read it. The chapter on specifically on rethinking teen behavior is entitled The Science of Teen Rebellion and explores the struggle parents have with trying to give teens the correct amount of discipline so that they can have an honest open relationship. Apparently this is a nearly impossible feat, and the authors argue that to some degree it can't be helped.

Things I found particularly interesting:

  • Parents who are extremely strict risk having kids that are obedient, but depressed.
  • Parents who accept anything their kids do are seen as not actually caring.
  • Teens aren't likely to seek out their parents for help on difficult matters, as that means admitting they aren't mature enough to handle it themselves...something no teen wants.
  • Arguing, while stressful for parents, is actually very healthy for teens, particularly if they are able to negotiate some control of their lives, while still receiving healthy boundaries.
  • Overbooked teens are often just doing stuff because their parents want them to, and because they have very little free time, they don't know how to occupy themselves constructively when they do have the opportunity.
How can these lessons apply to libraries? This is what I hope to discuss at our next Teen Contacts Meeting. I have some ideas, but would love to hear more.

Have you read this passage? What are your thoughts?

How does this apply to libraries?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Help Teens Set Good Internet Boundaries

This week I attended a training on teens and cyberstalkers, online bullying and other internet safety issues. I was struck by the fact that we do a lot to warn teens to watch out, but most feel they can deal with whatever comes their way online and are likely to disregard words of caution. Personally I feel that we should not just tell them to watch out, but empower them by educating them to know their options if they are approached or harassed online.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children along with the US Department of Justice have created a solid info site for teens called Don't Believe the Type to help teens make wise decisions online. These pages are an excellent resource for parents and youth services professionals for starting conversations with teens, and helping them keep others safe too. The website gives great sets of guidelines for what to watch out for in different online situations, and when to report dubious behavior to the Cyber Tip Line. The tip line is connected to a national database that tracks bad behavior to stop creeps from hurting kids. By reporting creeps teens are practicing setting good boundaries (important for their emotional development), and help prevent creeps from victimizing less savvy youth.