Tag Archives: Play

MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke

 

Make. Play. Read. Learn Logo designed by Kyle Gordy http://kylegordydesign.com/
Make. Play. Read. Learn Logo designed by Kyle Gordy http://kylegordydesign.com/

From the moment that I began working in libraries in around 2007, I was not a fan of Summer Reading programs and the themes they were generally packaged around. They were boring, cookie cutter, and out of date. The themes seemed to be 1-2 years behind what was popular at the moment.  As a teen librarian, my job was to take these themes and put some excitement around them. I found it to be a difficult task that took energy away from what I consider to be the most important part of any public library: the community that uses the library services.  Why spend energy on something that doesn’t reflect your community? I’ve been asking myself this question throughout my career. It’s taken awhile, but as time has passed the answer has become clearer and clearer: summer reading programs should not be catch all, cookie cutter programs. They need to be crafted and designed to meet the needs of the community.

My early research into summer programs at libraries turned me onto the Summer Game at the Ann Arbor District Library, a remarkable game where library patrons can earn points, badges, prizes, and more for participating. I loved this approach. However, I knew that at this moment my library and the community did not have the means to achieve something like this.  This is ok!  Instead of saying “oh well, we can’t do this, so let’s just do what we used to do” we said “NOPE! Let’s keep moving ahead!” And ahead is where we went with MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN.

MPRL-Teaser-Banner

 

The idea is simple: what are the themes we can organize library programming around? What is our community interested in? Using ideas for STEAM and Every Child Ready to Read, we came up with 8 themes to focus our efforts around: Design, Drama, Tinker, Technology, Music, Writing, Science, and Art. We (myself and Children’s Services Coordinator Lee Hope) then assigned our staff to a certain theme and tasked them with coming up with 5 simple programs focused around that theme. 20 staff members contributed and came up with amazing program/lesson plans, supply lists, budgets, and more.  Everyone who created these themed programs in a box got a $150 budget.  These “theme programs in a box” will travel throughout our library branch locations this summer and serve our kids, tweens, and teens with two programs every day (one for kids, one for tweens/teens) over the course of 8 weeks.

There are two big parts I like about MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN.  First up is how we had all of our staff involved in the planning. Coming from a strictly youth services background, I always try to remember how important it is to have the youth services voice at the table.  Youth Services traditionally drive library circulation, programming statistics and more. Simply speaking, kids, tweens,  teens and families love libraries. It is easy to say “yes, we will do this and that for the kids”. Those kind of initiatives will work out in the end but I find it far more rewarding and successful at the core if you involve as many of the youth service staff that you employ. Youth Services staff have a treasure trove of ideas in their head. Why not create a program and give that program the structure and support to unleash staff creativity? I’d like to think that MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN did that for our amazing Youth Services team at the Chattanooga Public Library.

The other big part I’d like to finish with is the branding. To me, a successful program has to reflect the community it serves. What do Chattanoogans enjoy from the library? They make, they play, they read, and they learn in our libraries.  With that in mind, we are trying to tie it all together into one package that the community can identify with.

MPRL-Logo

 

The final step in our story is unwritten. Throughout May 2015, we’ll prepare for MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN at our library locations.  June and July will be the months where everything happens.  It’s super exciting and a whole lot of scary, but you know what? We’ll make it through and we’ll give some kids, tweens, and teens and amazing summer.

MAKE. PLAY. READ. LEARN images and logo design by Chattanooga Public Library Web Developer/Designer Kyle Gordy.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Ms. Pac Man at the Chattanooga Public Library (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Photo Jun 01, 4 42 27 PM
This is what it’s all about: A tween and his Dad enjoy Ms. Pac Man at the Library

When I was a teenager, I spent most if not all of my time in video game arcades in shopping malls.  It was the time of fighting games…Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, World Heroes, Primal Rage, and many, many more.  Who knows how much money I spent playing those games and more importantly, who cares.  What mattered most (and what sticks with me to this day) was being in the same room with people my age who enjoyed the same things as me.  It was exciting.  It was fun.  It created friendships and community.

Video gaming in libraries isn’t a new thing.  It seems to have picked up steam in the last decade and is now something that most libraries will offer to their communities.  This is a good thing: video games can be fun, rewarding, help those playing them understand stories/character/plot, and so much more.

I’ve always wanted to recreate that vibe that I felt back when I used to frequent the arcade in the public library.  It was exciting to stand around an arcade machine and watch someone get as far as they could in a game on one quarter.  It was exciting to go one-on-one with someone in a game like Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat.  Public libraries are places where people come together and experience something.  Why not have a bit of that something be an arcade machine?

It has been a dream of mine to get an arcade machine in a library since I started in libraries back in 2007 and this past week, thanks to the Friends of the Chattanooga Public Library the support of the staff at the Chattanooga Public Library, and my wife Haley (she found it on Craigslist for only $150!), we now have an original Ms. Pac Man arcade machine on the 2nd Floor of the library…and it has been a great thing.  I love seeing the reaction people have when they realize that the library has an arcade machine.  I love seeing families (like the photo above) playing it together.  I love seeing the teens gather round and have tournaments to see who can get the highest score.

I cannot wait to see the community and friendships that this little ‘ol machine will create.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

German-American Gaming League (by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke)

I had the honor of helping unveil the German-American Gaming League while I was in Hamburg last month for the Bibliothekartag Library Conference.  If you’re interested in the league, please visit this link for more information (please note: the page is in German, so have Google Translate handy!)

What is the German-American gaming league?

In the gaming league take people from Germany and the United States in an open competition against each other. Here are several computer games such as Wii bowling and playing Mario Kart.

Why did the German-American gaming league?

We believe that gaming will have a major impact on the culture and knowledge in the future. With this and many other projects we want to prepare cultural and educational institutions at that future. We would also like to develop an international network on the topic of gaming. Our colleagues in the United States are already implementing for many years a gaming league. There is even a National Gaming Day.We now want to expand this league to Germany, thus ensuring a sustainable and interdisciplinary networking.

Furthermore, we want to network with this project, the institutions with gamers.

Where are the competitions?

The competitions are held in participating libraries, museums and archives.

What is the cost to attend the gaming league?

Participation in the gaming league is for both the players and for the institutions in which the competitions take place absolutely free.

Who can play?

The gaming league is open to every person who has the desire to join in playing video games. There is no age restriction.

What games are played?

There are only played games with no age restriction. We begin in the first season with Wii bowling and Mario Kart. More games will follow.

When will the gaming league, and how long a season?

The Gaming League was officially launched in the Library Conference 2012 in Hamburg. This means that from now on, they can enter institutions. The gaming events in Germany are said to have taken place up to 30.11.2012, ie on 01.12.2012, we want to present the German champion, then travel to the finals in the United States. The next round will begin in June 2013.

Important: The registration period ends on July 20, 2012 , and we start with 20 institutions – first come, first play, first :-)

Who makes the gaming league?

The Gaming League is a cooperative project of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, the association Zukunftswerkstatt culture and knowledge eV and libraries and gaming lovers from Germany and the United States.

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