I’m knocked out by this model of service and engagement with young people. My brain is also reeling pondering the implications of Mindkeepers and Mindspotters as library employees – another reason to scan the horizon for trends impacting our profession and changing our jobs. This makes me hope the libraries that have treated their teen users as second class citizens take notice. There is much promise and potential here.
Once it began, everything seemed to be going smoothly. That is, until I saw a security guard shoot a look at a group of loud teens, telling them to keep it down. He then shut the door in their faces as they stood in the doorway trying to get into the event.
The teens were initially shocked and looked to each other for some kind of explanation. Then they burst out laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
There were more than 150 teens attending this YA author visit, buying books, CDs and T-shirts. It was a librarian’s dream: they were connecting with the author, asking questions about his writing, his character development, and ambiguous endings. They were having a blast with their friends, parents, and teachers, and connecting with other teens. But then one staff member spoiled it all.
For those teens, the security guard reaffirmed every negative stereotype of a library. I went home that evening feeling very sad.
It’s been ten years since I became a YA librarian, and here I am still fighting the same fight. When will other library staffers learn to treat teens with respect and understand the purpose behind teen programming?
Even the security guard should be held accountable for his behavior because, after all, he also works with the public—and he’s representing the library. In my opinion, he should get the same training that public library staffers do—and he should be held to the same standard as every library employee.
I agree with Tricia Suellentrop (the teen services librarian for the Johnson County Library in Kansas). The mission, vision and values of libraries should be clearly articulated to all employees of a library – including security guards. I have a number of stories such as this I use in class to illustrate in my classes how important the values of our profession and institutions should be for guiding user interaction, policy and the experience of visiting the library. Remeber these:
She concludes with:
When I think about negative experiences between library staffers and teens, it doesn’t lead me to believe that cutting down teen programming is an answer to the problem. Instead, it makes me want to double or triple my efforts. It makes me want to stick awesome teens, who are using the library in the best ways possible, right in the noses of those cranky and grouchy librarians.
Liz Delzell, Youth Services Assistant, Fox River Grove Memorial Library in Fox River Grove, IL, writes:
I just wanted to share this picture of some of the members of our BRAND NEW teen advisory board. We have a lovely little library serving about 4500 residents in a small northern suburb of Chicago, and while we see lots and lots of kids, adults, and seniors, we don’t seem to draw in area teens. We hope the members of this board will be able to give us some insight into what teens want from us and how we can best deliver that to them. I thought this picture, of our teens looking INTO the library from outside the windows they’d just painted, was kind of poetic.
Also, in an unrelated but funny note, our library often abbreviates the name to FRGML. I’ve also abbreviated the name of the teen advisory board to TAB. The kids have talked about wanting t-shirts that say “FRGMLTABLOL” on the front and “We visit the library… IRL” on the back – which, again, makes me smile just thinking about all the people in the library that will be confused by this teen humor.
Via Janette at CAVAL.
Tony Tallent writes:
Today I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with the Boulder Public Library Teen Advisory Board. One of the things I realized during the meeting is how far Public Libraries have come in the past 10 years or so with their commitment to the Teens in our communities. The very fact that I was sitting in a meeting room chatting with this vibrant group of Teens talking about libraries, podcasts and how to make the library a better place for them is quite wonderful. Salute to BTAB!
Check out what they’re up to at www.boulderteens.org
I’m impressed with the site and specifically the URL. It aligns the teen group with the community they live in, not just the library. This is a far cry from the ways other libraries have handled teen groups!
Take a look at the spaces on the site for the teens to share their creativity or opinions. This ties in perfectly with what the Pew study from a couple years back found: teens are creating like crazy and offering them a space to do so at the library might just be a good match.
Watch Mr. Tallent’s blog folks – he’s coming on as a Director of Libraries & Arts for Boulder. His insights, plans, and initiatives will be fascinating.
Nice article from the Times, that features quotes from UK Web Focus Brian Kelly:
Brian Kelly has been championing the digital revolution since setting up one of the first educational websites at the University of Leeds in 1993. He’s now a national adviser to higher education, based at the University of Bath. I’m not surprised when he tells me I was wrong to confiscate my son’s computer. “When I was doing my physics A level, I had one standard textbook in which everything was gospel. Your son can go online, find information that challenges the text and then he can network with others, compare notes and even e-mail the experts.”
I can see that that broadens his knowledge, but does it deepen it? “Education has always been about absorbing the facts first and reflecting on them second. Technology is not hampering that, but take away his laptop and you are just setting him up for a rebellion,” Kelly says. “The technology tide is unstoppable.”
Have you heard of 23 Things, the self-guided program for learning about 2.0 web technology? It was developed by Helene Blowers a couple of years ago at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and since then has been adopted across the country by public and school libraries, districts, and even entire states. It consists of a number of “things,” or small exercises, that you do online to expand your knowledge of the 2.0 web and social networking, from blogs and podcasts to wikis and Twitter.
For a while now (and prodded by our Technology Editor, Kathy Ishizuka) I’ve realized it would be a great idea if all of us here at SLJ went through a “23 Things” like experience. After all, we are always writing about different 2.0 applications, shouldn’t we experience them as well? Walk the walk, talk the talk, and all of that…So I resolved that we’d do it this summer.
Then I got to thinking: if we’re going to do it, why not open it up and invite everyone to join us?
So that’s what we are going to do. But Iwe’re not going it alone; we’ve asked 2.0 guru, Dominican faculty member, and season trainer Michael Stephens to join us for the ride. Beginning Monday, July 21, Michael will author a blog here on SLJ.com that will lead us through the different exercises, offer guidance, answer questions, and even provide a little hand-holding. We’re calling it “All Together Now: A 2.0 Learning Experience.”
There’s no need to sign up–just show up. Again, we’ll begin on July 21 and wrap things up in early September.
I subscribe to Governing magazine electronically and usually read it shortly after the monthly is released. If you are not familiar with the magazine, it is probably the best publication currently out that addresses the most crucial issues facing state and local government. The June issue featured an article entitled Revolution in the Stacks: to appeal to a new generation some libraries are positioning themselves as places to create content, by Christopher Swope; pshew, but that is one long Library 2.0 subtitle.
Every new generation of librarians feel they are on the most cutting side of service. Many have yet to fund change so they fail to understand why institutional change can be slow. They have yet to learn that a measured response is much better than being a leader of the pack. They are frequently not held responsible when change is not successful so they risk nothing.
I salute the leaders of the pack. They get us thinking in new ways. Thank goodness for DOK, PLCMC, Georgia Tech, HCPL, Darien, etc. But I would agree that all libraries do not have to live at the bleeding edge of innovation. I urge those folks to follow the innovators and implement change when the time is right.
Here’s the link to Governing: http://www.governing.com/articles/0806libraries.htm
I have seen a lot of change in 30 years as a practicing librarian. Most of what gets passed off as new customer service ideas is just old ideas repackaged as new.
The ease of creating of digital information, the endless flow of ideas from the “crowd” of bloggers, YouTubers, Facebookers, etc, and the possibility for interaction online locally as well as globally has changed the way many folks do business, interact with government and engage with non-profits (among many others) cause me to disagree. We could never connect in the ways we can now. The mob is smart and it’s not going away.
Most of the real change comes in how to provide service with new formats. Just think of the challenges in how to store cassette, CD and long playing record versus book. If you ever handled ultrafiche – which put the Bible on a piece of film the size of your thumb – you begin to understand the interplay of lighting, electricity, equipment and patron use with the introduction of a new format. Unfortunately most of us cannot change library space at whimsy.
I’ve seen libraries that have created easily changeable spaces as they look to the future. Hopefully, more will follow suit when the time comes for new buildings or renovation. Planning flexible spaces may be one of the most important things we do as we go forward, including lighting, electricity and patron use. Part of that involves changing the mindset about what a library building is and could be without focussing on not changing because of space/facility.
Librarians have always worried about losing the young adult reader and needing to provide new services and space to keep them coming back. This is not new. I once chased a fellow out of a library for skating about on roller blades. I know if we had made the main stairwell a roller blade park, the kids would have been there. I would have probably bought a coke and sat during lunch watching them jump on the stair rail and skate down. I just did not think this was the creative content appropriate for the location.
Later: (emphasis mine)
There are new ideas about library service and some sound like fun. If you just convince your elected officials to give this library the money, we will be Wii-ing, You Tubing and blogging with the best. But libraries are still the bastions for ideas and they are important, and if at any time you feel that is not so then try reading Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. Somewhere on this globe people still die for a good book!
Ideas are important! All kinds – including those shared on a library blog or via a library YouTube contest.Or between strategizing youth at a game competetion hosted by the library. I hope the folks of Hall County respond that maybe some Wii, a blog and such might be useful. I’d especially think the young adult librarians there might find such tools useful.
Maybe the resources that will come from the $1 Million grant from Verizon to ALA for gaming will help folks understand the importance of this trend in libraries:
“In today’s technology-driven world, where learning does not stop at the classroom, the role of libraries in supporting literacy and learning is more critical than ever before,” said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston. “Gaming for learning presents a tremendous opportunity for libraries to further literacy skills in children as well as adults.”
Maybe allocating just a bit of the Hall County Library budget for emerging digital tools for literacy and some exploration of Web 2.0 might be just the ticket for this library’s staff and ultimately, its users.
I’d post these comments about Mixson’s letter at the elink newsletter site, but I see no way to do so. I think I need some time anyway to ponder these points further. Take a look at the letter, and let me know what you think.