Monday, November 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing with Partnerships

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"Libraries build community partnerships." There is no doubt that this is what makes our libraries vital to our communities.  Ms. Kelly Czarnecki discusses this topic on YALSA Blog and shows us some examples of how this could work at your library by giving concrete examples across the US of how partnerships between outside organizations and the library help them extend what they each can do. 

After today's class discussion on how school librarians work and the importance of collaboration with teachers within the school, this connection between what we do in schools and what is done in public libraries is not so different! We school librarians are building school-community partnerships by sharing and collaborating with teachers on many levels which also extends what we each can do by ourselves. One difference however is the fact that we are teachers and we incorporate information literacy skills into the curriculum, as discussed by Carol Doll in Collaboration and the School Library Media Specialist. Just as libraries need to reach out to the community to remain vital, school librarians need to reach out to teachers in their school to remain vital and relevant to what is happening in the school. We also need to remind teachers of how important information literacy is and how it connects with the classroom. By doing this, we make ourselves indispensable to the operation of the school and the education of our students.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Next Big Thing in Teen Spaces

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Modern teen library spaces is one of the themes discussed on YALSA's blog this month. The writer, Linda W. Braun, asks us to consider what our teen library spaces will be transformed into, once the day comes when there will be no need for book shelves or even computer labs. Read her post here. She suggests that with all that extra space, we need to think of creative solutions to use that space wisely, be it new furniture, "Maker" programming, setting up a "Genius Bar", etc.

I think this situation is very interesting to ponder and consider. Some libraries have well funded and supported teen areas but this isn't always the case. If there isn't much space to begin with for teens in some public libraries, what are we really talking about? I've read about libraries having a couple of book cases, a small table and some chairs, and perhaps a simple display that is considered the "Teen section". If you take this away, does anybody notice? If your library admin hasn't given you much space for them in the first place, why would they give it to you now that you don't need it because "everybody has a device".

You also have to look at the culture of your library. If your director isn't too crazy about teens, you may already find it hard to program for them. Having a "bunch of free space" is no guarantee that it'll be awarded to teen services to attract patrons that may not be high on the welcome list in the first place.

Ms. Braun, though she is casting a wide net in posing this question, seems to be making a few assumptions I've alluded to already. One of these is the assumption that all libraries have these large teen book collections that are at risk of being eliminated by technology. Another is that with all that new open space, YOU have a choice as to what to do with it. And a third assumption is that all teens will possess said "technology" that replaces said "eliminated books" and are skilled at using it.

This last assumption should make us realize why we got into this profession in the first place. Our patrons need us because we know how to do stuff with technology or are savvy enough to find out how. Our patrons will probably need us to have technology available for them if we intend on teaching them how to do things with it. Not all teens will have an iPhone that works identically for everyone or be able to afford one. Having a standard library technology helps us find information and teach better. As knowledge collectors and connectors, we librarians are needed to help our teen patrons find answers to their questions, solutions to their problems, and techniques to their creation of knowledge!

We need to be sensitive to all of our patrons' needs when considering what we can offer them as a library. Not all of them will have an eDevice, not all of them will be tech savvy, and not all of them will care what's going on in the library. But we definitely need to do more than to have a bunch of  tables with chairs around them in that nice new empty space we just got.

I have also posted a shorter response to Ms. Braun's post here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

BrainPop and election game GameUp

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BrainPop's GameUp feature is an awesome online game that can be used by teachers and students as an election simulator to teach players how to campaign for electoral votes, raise funds, check polls, and make appearances that will get you"elected". In addition to running mock elections in school, this tool can really get students engaged in the process of what it's like to be a candidate. By offering students a deeper experience, we are helping them understand how things work and giving them additional tools on their path to being educated, active, and productive citizens as well as helping them mature and define an identity. We are also helping to create an environment that fosters positive teen development and participation which is discussed at length in Serving Urban Teens by Brehm-Heeger.