Category Archives: Teens & Libraries

Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults 2012 (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

I’m very honored to be part of this years President’s Program Planning Task Force for YALSA.  As part of this program, we’re announcing this years Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults program which you can find out about below.  If you’re a teen program who’s doing awesome things, I highly suggest you think about being part of this program.  There’s a lot of great teen programs out there right now being put on by hard working librarians and this is your chance to share them with everyone!

From ALA.org:
YALSA will select up to twenty-five innovative teen programs from all types of libraries to feature at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference and to include in a sixth edition of Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults. Successful applications will focus on programs that address new teen needs or interests, or that address ongoing teen needs or interests in an innovative or unique way. The top five programs will receive cash awards of $1000 each. Up to twenty “best of the rest” programs will receive cash awards of $250. Each award will be presented to the applicant’s institution for use with future teen programs and/or for the applicant’s travel to the 2013 conference to participate in the YALSA President’s Program.

Eligibility
The program described in the application must be a library-sponsored event, inside or outside the library, which appeals to a group rather than an individual. A program can be informational, recreational, educational, or all three.

  • The program described must have taken place in 2012 or be ongoing.
  • The program must be targeted at teens within the 12 – 18 age range.
  • All personal members of YALSA whose membership is current as of 12/17/12 are eligible to submit an application.
  • Only one application per YALSA member may be submitted.

Criteria
Each application will be judged on the basis of the:

  • Degree to which the program meets the needs of the teens in the community. (20 points)
  • Originality of the program (creative, innovative, unique). (30 points)
  • Degree to which the program reflects the ideals identified in YALSA’s national guidelines and competencies (at www.ala.org/yalsa/guidelines). (20 points)
  • Overall quality of the program (well planned, promoted, organized, implemented, and evaluated). (20 points)
  • Clarity of the application (10 points)

Instructions
1. The application must include a statement of support from the director of the public library, school principal, or the building-level administrator which is emailed to lsmith@ala.org.

2. Entries must be models of clarity and completeness.

3. The application must be submitted electronically via the online form at http://ow.ly/eKh40.

4. All online forms and statements of support must be received no later than midnight (eastern) Dec. 17, 2012.

5. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Announcement
The libraries selected with exemplary programs will be announced via press release the week of Feb. 4, 2013.

All of the selected programs will be invited to participate in YALSA’s President’s Program: Innovations in Teen Programming at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference. Prize money may be used to support travel and conference expenses.

All of the selected exemplary programs/services will be included in YALSA’s Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults, 6th edition, to be published in the fall of 2013.

Libraries receiving the cash awards will be recognized via press release and on the YALSA web site. A list of winning applicants will be included in the forthcoming book.

For questions contact: Letitia Smith, YALSA Membership Marketing Specialist, at lsmith@ala.org or 1.800.545.2433 x4390

Badges for Teens – A TTW Guest Post by Steve Campion

Every year Pierce County Library System unveils a new Summer Reading Program. This year we’ve taken the teen program online (Teen Summer Challenge http://teensummerchallenge.org/) and challenged participants to explore their interests, their library, and their community through activities and masteries. Challengers can share their experiences, earn badges and achievements, interact with friends, claim their mastery of an activity group, earn library fine rebates, and share reviews of the books, music, movies, and places they love. Best of all, teens throughout out county library system can participate in the challenge together in one place!

The program has been going for more than a month so far and involvement is more than twice what it was last year. David Durante, one of the project managers, has promised the Youth Services librarians not to shave for a year if we exceed 2000 participants, and of course that’s elevated enthusiasm levels. What’s most remarkable to me is that this elaborate, interactive website was built on WordPress for less than $250. Kudos to librarian Patrick McVicker, its principal designer, for that. (Contact him at pmcvicker@piercecountylibrary.org)

We asked staff to beta test all of this in May. Over 150 did so, and they loved it. A few staff found themselves playing late into the night. Now that the teens got a month’s headstart, librarians outside Pierce County are welcome to sign in and try it out if they’re interested. Earn a badge or two.
Steve Campion is Library Trainer and IT Specialist at Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA. He is a principal contributor to the library’s social media sites and author/editor of Mostly NF and WA-List.com.

King Middle School Expedition Learning TV

click on this image to watch King TV

At the request of the students, our class embarked on a geography themed expedition this year to study the beauty and mystery of this huge country. All the students in our class are new to the US. After researching they have became experts on one of the US Census regions. In addition, they developed a practical understanding of how the world is categorized into the 5 themes of geography.  -Catherine Paul 

I wanted to share this awesome project some of the teens who use my library just did at their school.  They came into the library today and were really excited to show me.  Great job by Abdi, Ahmed, Anas, Hafs, Musa, Nasteh, Princie, and Roukia!

UPDATE: Click here for even more videos about what the teens are learning at King Middle School!

Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Please consider supporting the Young Writers & Leaders Film

The Young Writers and Leaders film is part of a Telling Room programSonya Tomlinson, David Meiklejohn, and 15 Portland, Maine area teens (all of whom use my teen library everyday!). Simply stated, the film tells the stories of the teens and their involvement in the Telling Room program and their lives in Portland, ME.

Their goal is to take their film and the fifteen teen participants on a trip to Boston and  spend the day in the city visiting a sister writing center, pairing up with Boston-area young writers, and holding a screening of the film in a  film house that holds 250 people followed by a Q&A with the Young Writers and Leaders students.

Over the past two years, I’ve come to know a lot of these teens one on one from my time with them in the library.  As I sit and write this, I see Ali sitting in a study room in front of me listening to music and working on something even though it’s spring break this week.  Just this morning, I met up with Chrispo and gave him a drum set that I had sitting around collecting dust in my storage unit.  He’s been wanting to play drums for years now and used to use garbage cans at the open mic events we held in the teen library in 2010.  I remember having many talks with Edna at the teen service desk just one year ago about her librarian-ish obsession to categorize, archive, and color code all of her homework in a specific brand of Office Depot three ring binders.  These teens have come a long way in the two years that I’ve known them and now they’re getting a chance to tell their story and take it on the road to another community.

Please consider supporting this project by visiting their Kickstarter page here.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Fictional Band at Your Library?

The backstory:
I’ve been working with a fellow Portland Mainer named Kirsten Cappy who runs the book consulting company  Curious City to come up with a program to promote the new book Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham (out June 2012).

We had the idea to send the book out on the road, much like the characters in the story.  We asked “how can this work and how can we help out libraries?”  My response was: “make it easy and simple for teen libraries and give them a summer reading program in a box”.  Simple things for the library to host and give their community something neat and exciting.

This is what we came up with.

We’re looking for libraries between Boston, MA and Austin, TX to join in on the ride.  It’s simple: you host our traveling road show, you get free stuff and a program for teens, and that’s it.

If you’re interested, check out our official press release here:
http://curiouscitydpw.com/2012/03/28/fictional-band-at-your-library/

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens (PART 3)

Shirky, of course, advocates that we embrace “as much chaos as we can stand.” In this scenario, staff is encouraged to try out a new thing without regard to the way “it’s always been done.” This is messy, scary, and probably unwanted in most institutions. 

Ideas above are from:
Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
Embracing Chaos by Michael Stephens

It has been a little over a month since we began our grand experiment with lending devices to teens (for the first post on this, go here.  for the second, go here) and I am here to check back in and follow up about the project with 100% honesty.

The Nook is still circulating and has a hold list.   The device has been loaned out, returned, and been taken well care of.  There hasn’t been as much interest in the Nook as there has been the iPod, but I think that’s to be expected with these types of devices and teens (for more on this, see Are Teens Embracing E-Books?)

The iPods have been lost.  They were lent out to two teens at the same time and like clockwork a week  later, they were gone.  The teens came into the library and told me about their story.  Both of them were using the device and let their friends borrow it to play a game and then their friends walked off with the iPod. I listened and explained to them that I understood where they were coming from but the fines for losing the device were staying on their card ($324).  I didn’t tell them outright that I was a bit sad by the loss (for the library, for the teens that wanted to borrow them, and for the teens that lost them…that’s a hefty fine), but I think they could see it in me.  Sometimes you don’t have to say much to get a message across.  Emotions are a heavy thing.

Am I bummed that this all happened?  Of course.  There’s a small part of me that’s sad about how it all went down, but there are two sides to every story.  The overall excitement that the teens had when they found out we’d be circulating these devices showed me that I was on the right track.  Sure, we lost two iPods, but you have to remember it’s just an iPod touch and not some one of a kind, priceless thing. I’m also happy that we tried something new, something out of the ordinary for our teens and we now have more experience for when we run this program again…and don’t get me wrong, we will try again.  I would be letting down the nine other teen patrons in the hold queue for the iPods if I didn’t.  In conclusion, this minor setback will not get me down.  I’ve seen many bigger successes – such as the one last week where one of my longtime teen patrons who just became a US citizen after being in this country for a few years – to put me down for the count.  Those are the things that matter.  An iPod touch?  Not so much.

What did I learn from this?

  • You’re gonna lose items…and it’s ok.  It’s all part of the learning process.  Libraries lose a lot of materials with high value – think about when an audiobook collection goes missing or a disc needs to be replaced in a multi item set.
  • The teens have to know that they’re responsible.  Fines may not be the best way to do this, but that’s a bigger issue for another time.
  • eBooks and teens?  There’s a limited audience.
  • Teens want to have an experience.

How will this work next time?

  • One of the observations I made with the teens that had borrowed the devices was that they were more into using YouTube and the web browser than they were using the apps.  A possible solution would be to limit access to YouTube and the web browser and limit the devices to what they were intended for: curated app experience devices
  • Credit checks/signed applications from parents/etc will not work no matter how hard you try to push this on teens.  Teens can barely keep track of what they’re going to do after school, let alone understand what signing a piece of paper means.  Perhaps a better way forward is for the people working with these teen patrons in the library to make individual calls on each lender.  It may be a good idea for those working in the teen library to take some time to sit down with the teens that potentially want to borrow these devices, show them what they can do, and explain in fuller detail what it means to be “selected” for this program.


I won’t call this program a failure.  I learned that there is a BIG demand for a specific kind of device (the iPods) and less of a demand for another (eReaders).  What the teens want is an experience they cannot get anywhere else. I plan on giving it to them.   I’ll make sure to check back in once our new iPods arrive in the next few months

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens (PART 2)

(for the first post in this series, please click here)

Once I had the idea for lending out iPods with pre-selected apps to teens, I had to do some investigating and thinking about how these devices would be used.

I would describe the iPods as “locked down”.  By that, I mean that the borrower can’t do much other than use the iPods for their library defined purpose (play or create) and use the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To access restrictions, visit your settings on your iPod.  Under the General tab, scroll down to find restrictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in the restrictions section, you will see a number of things that you can turn off for the user.  I turned off everything except for Safari, YouTube, and Camera.  This section is locked by a 4 digit passcode which the borrower does not have access to.

I’ve also decided to use Find My iPhone app as a means of locating the device as a last resort (if it goes missing, stolen, etc).  Find My iPhone relies on the borrower being in an area that has wifi, but also has an option which will notify the Apple account holder (the library) of the next time the iPod has connected to a wifi network.  I know that this will sound a bit “Minority Report/1984/we’re watching you and your every move”, but I assure you that this is not the point of using this app.  In order to keep our investment safe for other members our community to borrow, I decided that using Find My iPhone was in our best interest.  Luckily, we haven’t had to resort to using it yet and I hope we never have to, but if the need arises it will be there for us to use.

And finally, I’ve been asked the question “Do the teens have to sign some kind of agreement to take out the iPods?”  My answer to this question is…sort of.

While we do not have a print version of a lending agreement in place that the teens/parent/guardian has to sign, we do have a spiel that we do give the teens before we check them out to them.  It’s not the same every time, but it goes something like this:

Just so you know, but checking out iPod out is kind of a big deal.  If it gets damaged, lost, or stolen, you’re going to have quite a hefty fine on your library card that you will have to pay before you can use the library again.  So, if you’re ok with that and you can be responsible with the iPod, then you should totally borrow it.

We usually end this conversation with a funny secret society type of handshake.  My hope is that it resonates with the teens a lot more than signing some piece of paper.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens

We can talk all day about whether or not it’s a good idea to lend out devices to patrons, but in the end action is better than any kind of talk.  After listening to both sides of the lending devices story for a few weeks, I decided to say the heck with it and buy some Nooks and iPod Touches to lend out to my teen patrons.

My approach to lending out these devices was simple: sure, anyone can go out there and buy these devices and put whatever they want on them, but what about all of the cool stuff  they may overlook?  There’s so many great apps and games out there that there’s no way you could try them all.


I approached the devices as something that the teen library would “curate”.  The librarians of the future are also our community leaders.  They not only inform their communities, but they also teach, show, and introduce their communities to new things.  I took that approach when selected the apps and ebooks that would come loaded on each of these devices.  I also came up with a “brand” for the devices….PLAY, CREATE, AND READ SOMETHING.  It is my hope with the brand that people come to see the “____ SOMETHING” idea in the library as something unique that a library does not offer traditionally.


The criteria for selecting apps and ebooks was simple.  I asked myself “what would I want to experience on these devices?” and also “what could give someone who is borrowing this device the best experience possible?”  Each iPod came loaded with $50 in iTunes store credit, and for the Nooks I purchased $100 in ebooks (you can see the complete lists of what are on the devices below).
The program rolled out yesterday, so I don’t have any feedback to give yet, but I’ll make sure to follow up on this post soon.
Here are the details of each of these programs, what I loaded onto the devices, and more, please visit:

PLAY SOMETHING
CREATE SOMETHING
READ SOMETHING

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Programming is great, but…

Have you ever given your all for a teen program, only to feel less than spectacular about the end result? We’ve all been there. Maybe we don’t attract the attendance numbers we hoped for or that our well thought out plan didn’t go exactly as we expected it to go. It’s got me thinking about life in the library beyond programs.

Programming is a great tool for libraries, but it can only get us so far. Real interactions, friendships, and something as simple as saying hello to our patrons is one of the best practices for a teen librarian to learn. I’m inclined to believe that librarians who spend more time interacting, building friendships, and communicating with their patrons have better results with the community that they serve.

How many teen craft programs can we host? Do teens even really like Star Wars/Harry Potter/Twilight themed events? Is gaming really one of the main solutions we have to keep turning towards?

We shouldn’t abandon programming all together. Think of programming as the first step, the gateway towards something deeper. Plan ahead with teen programs, but don’t spend a majority of your energy and focus on the programs themselves. Spend this time and energy on people. Take the time that you’d be taking to plan and implement an event like, say, teen after hours, and instead funnel that energy one day towards sitting down with your teens. Ask them about their day. Tell them about your life.  Listen to their stories. Have a laugh.

Another idea, although slightly pricey, may be to think about investing in staff. Sure, employing even a part time staff member can even have a tremendous effect on your budget, but you can’t think of it in business terms. An employee whose main priority is to interact with teen patrons and make them feel like part of the community can bring such a great positive energy to a library.

The next time you want to focus your energy and budget on a Twilight themed prom style event, think about your other options? Is it worth spending your energy sitting and chatting with the teens in your library instead?

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor