I was asked by my Branch Manager to write an article for out system newsletter on ALA. Here it is:
What do you get when you mix a room full of 100 Teen Librarians with a karaoke website and the theme from “Fame”? If you log on to YouTube.com and run a search for YALSA, you will discover the end result. In the meantime, I can regale you with tales of my personal experience attending this event called “Building Teen Communities Online” at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle.
Our first speaker of the day was Audra Caplan from Harford County Public Library who presented a Library Director’s point of view towards teen programs. Ms. Caplan addressed the issue of parents and staff who don’t understand the importance of technology and gaming in the library and showed practical ways to overcome those barriers. Her advice was to never blindside your director with programming, but instead present a well-thought out proposal covering such issues as money, time, bandwidth, infrastructure, potential problems, and intended and unintended consequences of the program. Even though I am lucky enough to have a Branch Manager who embraces technology, I came away with some wonderful ideas about how to write an excellent project proposal.
And then, there was Linda Braun. If you have never taken a class or seminar from her, you are missing out on one of the most entertaining and informative sessions you will ever experience. Linda lives on the cutting edge of technology and her unabashed geekdom rivals even my own. She was the speaker who had us all singing “Fame” and recorded it on www.singshot.com, a karaoke social networking site. During the course of her lecture, she introduced us to an array of social networking sites and some novel uses for them. For example, have you ever thought about using text messaging to send out information about upcoming programs or even a one sentence book talk? Teens today consider social networking as much a part of their lives as the telephone was to previous generations. We need to use these technologies to reach teens and let them know we are here for them.
After an inspiring lunch lecture by Patrick Jones about generational differences (sound familiar?), we learned about www.myowncafe.org, a teen message board developed by the Southeastern Massachusetts Library System. This wonderful site serves as a safe meeting place for teens in that library system where they can discuss anime, books, movies, and more. Registration with a library card is required so the patron’s age can be verified. Even though teen librarians keep an eye on the site, the actual moderation is left up to special teen moderators who protect their space with a vengeance. A year after its inception, they have 10,000 posts by 248 members. I love this idea and would like us to be able to do something similar someday.
Next up was a panel discussion on “Creating Community Through Gaming.” Yu-Gi-Oh is seeing a revival and the makers of the game would like to get libraries involved in the action as would the makers of Dungeons and Dragons. Games such as Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, and Karaoke Revolution are still the hot games for video game nights, but virtual worlds such as Second Life are also making their way into libraries.
After dinner, I headed off to the Game Night where I sampled new versions of DDR and Guitar Hero, plus had a close encounter with a Nintendo Wii (someday, you will be mine!).
In the end, it was an exciting and inspiring day filled with new ideas, wonderful speakers, and karaoke. You can’t forget the karaoke.
Tags: ala, ala midwinter, american library association, gaming in the library, karaoke, linda braun, patrick jones, yalsa, young adult, young adult librarians