MySpace: The Key to Reaching Teenagers

Via AL Direct comes this news story about Plainfield Library in Illinois, where instead of trying to block access, they are embracing their young users and diving into social networking:,4_1_JO04_MYSPACE_S1.article

Young Adult Librarian Joe Marcantonio noticed this summer that nearly every teenager on a computer terminal had their Web site pulled up the entire time. For some, it was the only reason they ventured into the library.

Librarians decided to join them in the world of social cyber-networking and put up their own MySpace site, There, they post bulletins about programs and pictures from events, and can keep in touch with the teens visiting the library.

It turns out the library is pretty popular. Since the account was created in August, the site has added more than 80 friends, Marcantonio said.

By having an account and encouraging the teens to add the library as an online friend, they are able to keep them safer, librarians said.

“There are always concerns, but I think it’s very much about teaching the kids how to be safe on the Internet,” said library Administrator Julie Milavec. “They need to know what’s appropriate and what isn’t. If we can help parents to do that by having an appropriate site, by talking to kids about Internet safety … that’s really what we’re here for.”

That effort is coupled with and finding new ways to connect with young people who have been swept away from books by video games, the Internet and television.

What a proactive stance! Get a load of that last line that illustrates where we might think about building presence for our teens: Even though the library has dedicated a page of its Web site to young adults, most of the teens don’t even see it. Instead, they go straight to the library’s MySpace site.