Saturday, March 26, 2011

Teen Services Exchange Workshop

Yesterday I went to our State Library for Teen Services Workshop, which was done by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) member Erin Downey Howerton. She works at a library in Kansas City, Kansas. It was nice to be able to go to a professional function with other librarians and learn about how to improve services to teens, a group that I am very interested in working with in the future. A lot of times they get ignored because administration or other librarians don't want to deal with them, because they don't come to the library that often. However, as the people who like to work with them know, they are the future. If you can hook them now, you will have them later when they grow up and have kids of their own. 

The first part of the presentation was on Erin's book picks from 2010, which a worksheet that was divided into categories. There were books for younger teen (tweens, age 8-12), nonfiction and poetry, graphic novels, older teens, Michael L. Printz winners & honors (Erin had served on the Printz committee in 2010, so these were ones she helped nominate), and trends for 2011-12. I like lists like this as I am always looking for new books to read (this need is emphasized by my recent book slump) and to recommend to other people. She also discussed how to handle controversial books, and gave resources on select groups of books such as edgy/gritty books and historical fiction. I asked her a question about a book I recently read, Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman. Since the book is pretty graphic and I think would mostly appeal to boys, how to you get girls to like it? I mean I found it fascinating, but most girls aren't into nonfiction/slightly gory topics. Erin and a couple of the other librarians mentioned that to make it appeal to girls, you talk about the feelings and emotions of the book, i.e. how Phineas changed over time personality-wise. I still need to work on book talking, but that gives a good head start on the kind of things I could say while giving one. She also mentioned that on August 5, in libraries across the country, there will be a nationwide Teen Lock-In. The organizers in California are trying to get teen authors to video Skype chats with the teens for the event. A lot of librarians complained about their administration not allowing them to do something like this, so Erin suggested that South Carolina get a discussion group going that includes libraries that want to do the lock-in  and those that have already done them successfully. Issues would include how to secure the building and insurance complications. 

The next part of the presentation was on the benefits of joining YALSA, and outlines their extensive online virtual opportunities, the different committees you could join, and the resources available to its members and the general public. I liked that you could join the listservs and view the blog without being a member. Since I am not currently a full-time library professional, I think I will wait till I am before I decide which organization to join. 

The third section was on Tech Trends. She discussed social networking trends for teens and tweens, as well as internet research that studies these trends so librarians have ammunition to take to administrators who might think social networking sites are a waste of time. She discussed something I knew very little about, namely QR codes, or Quick Response codes. These are 2-D barcodes that hold a lot more data than traditional barcodes. Her example was an ad from the Utah State Travel Board, which included a QR code. When you scanned this with your smartphone, it led the user to the site that requests travel guides for Utah. We found out that they are using them everywhere, from magazines and billboards to flyers that promote events and even in libraries themselves. Erin said that she has done a scavenger hunt in the science section of her library. She also discussed devices and cool apps to check out, the most interesting being Quickcite (which scans a book's barcode and you pick a citation style and it creates and emails you the citation), Kinect for XBox 360, Nintendo 3 DS (glasses-free 3D), Layar (augmented reality, which could be used by libraries to show patrons where specific books/items are located. The final part of the discussion was on E-book restrictions and the future of E-content. All in all, it was a very interesting day and it was nice to not only talk to other librarians but also the instructor. 

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