The Highs and Lows of Teen Tech Week

04/03/2014 § 9 Comments

If you work in teen services you are probably already elbow deep in programming, but for the rest here is a reminder: it is almost Teen Tech Week! Next week, March 9-15, libraries across the country will be celebrating YALSA’s “DIY @ your library” theme by providing programs on coding, knitting, music recording and everything in between. Unfortunately I do not (yet) work in a teen services department, but that does not mean I (or you) cannot join in on the celebration.


Miniature human face models made through 3D printer via S zillayali, Wikimedia Commons CC

As a young LIS professional it is easy to get absorbed in the biggest and shiniest trends: 3D printing! Tablets! Computer programming! It is even easier as a teen librarian-in-training to get overwhelmed by feeling the need to be an expert in all-the-things to land a job. Another common factor may be a limited budget and time; making programs like TTW seem out of reach.

In a previous post I shared resources on how technology can be used effectively in the classroom, but here I want to discuss how you do not need high-tech gear and excess funds to explore emerging technology trends.

First we need to step back and ask, “What is technology?”

When defining technology I initially think of computers, smart phones and gaming consoles — devices popular in the here and now. But what about cars, televisions, typewriters, pens… are these not classified as technology as well? By definition technology is “the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems.” Breaking down TTW would mean YALSA is then taking a week to promote teens’ creativity and problem solving skills in a public service environment — and isn’t that what libraries should be about anyway?

From brainstorming with fellow colleagues in the real and virtual world, here are possible low and high-tech activities for TTW — or for your own personal creative downtime:

  1. DIY Crafts: Do not let the term “technology” scare you into thinking you need to dump out your wallet for a brand new 3D printer. Host a crochet-your-own phone cozy party or make jewelry from miscellaneous computer parts.
  2. Media literacy: Underneath all this talk about media and technology lies a very real issue needing to be discussed, most teens do not understand how mass media works or how to use technology wisely. TTW is a great time to facilitate a conversation by creating interactive media literacy lessons like analyzing photographs, creating media or watching a documentary.
  3. Gaming: If you already have a gaming system and videogames, plug it in and you are good to go. Otherwise, ask teens to bring in their favorite games to swap and play. For a more guided program see how you can use Minecraft as an educational tool.
  4. Learn to code: All you need is a computer, internet access and a program like Codecadmey, Code Year or Squeakland depending on the audience’s age and skill level.
  5. Visit a makerspace: Don’t have the tools to solder a portable USB charger kit? I bet your local makerspace does! These community centers invite people in to use their tools to the best of their imagination. Now plan a field trip to the nearest makerspace and create!

These are only a few options of how you can get involved in Teen Tech Week, but you can find more resources at TTW’s website in the forum discussions, event toolkits and free webinars.


How is your library celebrating Teen Tech Week? What low-tech/low-cost programs have you facilitated for patrons of any age?

Know Your Literature – Keeping Up With The Kard… uhh… New Books.

28/02/2011 § 18 Comments

Thanks to our dear friend Lauren Gibaldi for another great guest post.

Image from

The role of librarian has expanded from simply helping people find books. But still – a good majority of patrons visit the library for just that – books. While it’s impossible to know every single novel out there, I think it’s smart to know what’s popular, what’s up-and-coming, and what many people may be asking about. (Of course, this goes a bit beyond library school, and more so into the job category, but it’s never to early to start paying attention to literature, right?)

So which books should you get familiar with?

How to learn about these titles

  • Keep up with awards once they’re announced. (i.e. Pulitzer, Man-Booker…) There’s the Caldecott Medal for children’s books, and YALSA has a ton of awards for young adult books.
  • Check out book columns from the New York Times, NY Magazine, New Yorker, and more. A good time to do this would be towards the end of the year, when everyone is creating a “best of” list. Also, keep up with prominent book blogs. (While Freedom by Jonathan Franzen was the BIG award-winner of last year, Room by Emma Donoghue was immensely popular.)
  • While it doesn’t change dramatically each week, the list, which is featured on the newspaper’s website, is good to browse every now and then. (For fiction, a lot of books will overlap with the previous few categories. For non-fiction, any presidential memoir will be on the list easily).
  • Oprah has her list of winners on her website. She’s the only person I’ve ever known to have Faulkner sell out in a bookstore.
  • After True Blood came out, tons of people flocked for the Sookie Stackhouse series. If a show or movie is getting a ton of buzz, look to see if it has a literary counterpart.
  • Keep up with publishing company blogs. They’re not shy about showcasing their new releases. Some even have specific library-related blogs.
  • Did you know half of the cast of Jersey Shore has book deals? And they (for some reason) sell? Yeah, know about them.

I actually love keeping up with books, so for me, this is an fun task. By just monitoring a few blogs, it’s easy to know what’s hot within the publishing world. It really helps, especially when someone comes in asking for “that book that’s going to be a movie with the girl from Glee in it.”*

* I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

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