Bridging the Digital Divide: ALSC and YALSA’s Take on the Digital Lives of Tweens and Young Teens

Good librarians should know their target audiences inside and out. This includes staying abreast of social treads and media sensations, as well as being well-versed in the latest technology advances and social media outlets.

But all too often, there is a digital divide between librarians and their patrons, where tweens and young teens are very digitally connected and library staffs are very disconnected. This leads to not only discrepancies, but it creates large gaps, or divides between these two groups, where, really, there should be collaboration.

This year at ALA, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) ran a joint presidents’ program focusing on the digital lives of tweens and young teens, as both groups serve similar audiences. This fascinating panel event featured two very different, yet equally captivating speakers, Michelle Poris, Ph.D. and Stephen Abram, MLS.

The first speaker, Michelle Poris was from Smarty Pants, which is described as “is a full-service market research and strategic consulting firm dedicated to helping corporate and non-profit clients better understand and connect with youth and families.” She had spoken to kids and families in their every day lives and had taken a “nationally-representative sample of 415 10 to 14-year-olds” for the purpose of her survey.

Michelle highlighted the very real changes that occur in young people’s self-perceptions between ages 10 through 14. This is an especially important factor. It’s very easy to sometimes forget how we ourselves felt at the age of 10 or 12, and we need to be sensitive to the needs and concerns for privacy that our tween and young teen patrons might require around this time.

Michelle broke down for the librarians in attendance the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and academic changes that students of this age often encounter. In this light, she introduced the recreations, as she called them, that tweens and young teens often engage in. (For more information about any of these topics, please see the link to Michelle’s slides at the bottom of this post.)

According to her survey, watching television was still at the top of the list for both 10 to 12-year-olds and 13 to 14-year-olds, while listening to music and going online followed close behind. What has changed here for these “born digital” students is that they are usually multitasking when they do one of these activities. For example, Michelle says that, “One screen is often not enough – TV may be on next to the computer, with a cell phone or iPod Touch in hand.”

Michelle brought up the notion that as many as ½ of 10-14-year-olds surveyed have Facebook, a disturbing number when viewed in light of Facebook’s age 13+ policy to join. While there are obvious benefits to joining a social media site such as Facebook, there are also inherit dangers and questions that beg to be asked in the face of younger and younger users being online. Who is signing these “illegal” Facebookers up? Are parents lying to allow their under 13-year-olds on Facebook and if so, why?

What can we as librarians do to prevent privacy issues, cyber bullying, and exposure to predators and inappropriate online behavior and content? Is this the role of the librarian? If not, then whose role is it?

I would argue that in these ever-changing times, with the digital lives of tweens and young teens moving so fast, there is no better person to fill this role than the librarian.

The end of Michelle’s presentation said that 68% of kids said, “Grown-ups need to do a better job finding out what’s important to kids” and I would agree! It is the job of librarians to ask their audience what they need, to ask to be taught if they don’t understand the latest social technology. There is nothing tweens love more than teaching you how to use that new Angry Bird app on the iPad, for example.

Just ask! It’s the first step in bridging the digital divide.

And for your educational pleasure, ALSC and YALSA have posted an additional booklist resource and the slides from Michelle Poris’ presentation about The Digital Lives of Tweens and Young Teens from the President’s Program.


Filed under Post-conference reflections, Thoughts from Genna

Summer Reading

I’ve been home from ALA for two weeks now, doing my utmost to savor the moments of insight I experienced at ALA. A 15 hour journey from Anaheim to NYC plus re-emersion into life as usual have obvious consequences, however, and it’s tough to carry the conference mood into daily life.

While I’d planned to avoiding commenting on ARCgate – a recent uproar regarding abuses of advanced reader copies of books at ALA / some finger wagging over conference decorum – I do have to iterate that the books I brought home with me have allowed sustained interest in topics highlighted in Anaheim. I think this is the intention of ARCs in the first place, but making this point on a broader scale is outrageously goody-two-shoed. The reality is that I made myself a “no swag” promise, not knowing about the ARC phenomena in the first place, thus finding myself in the odd position of having behaved ethically in regard to acquiring ARCs and published monographs, yet feeling oddly guilty for bringing extra items home with me – in spite of the fact that they are central to the mission of my education. Don’t worry: I’m shaking my head at myself on your behalf.

I’m in the middle of reading Weinberger’s Too Big To Know, but have become thoroughly distracted by In the Garden Of Beasts by Erik Larson, which I purchased at Hudson Books JFK prior to my departure. While reading, I’ve been thinking a lot about a class I took in my undergraduate studies called Representations of the Holocaust – a three week, three credit summer term class I put toward my social science credits. Given that several years have passed since then, I’m tremendously ill-equipped to answer the question that I had programmed into my mind that summer: how can we justifiably discuss the unthinkable events that took place in Germany in the 30s and 40s, events that Walter Benjamin famously wrote represent the end of civilization? How can Larson’s book be treated within this framework? If only I could find my notes I might be better able to formulate a few thoughts on this, but it’s interesting to try to think about anyway. Dissertation level stuff.

In due course I shall return to my ALA summer reading list, which also includes Rebecca MacKinnon’s Consent of the Networked and The Accidental Taxonomist by Heather Hedden, as well as my general LIS studies reading list, which includes The Information by James Glieck and Information Rules by Hal Varian. Non-fiction, practical reading all. If only Simon and Schuster had had copies of John Irving’s In One Person on hand…

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ALA Session: Disaster Response- Lessons Learned

This was my Saturday afternoon session. For some reason, I’m really drawn to disaster recovery. I don’t know what it is,  but I have a sneaking suspicion it has to do with the idea of being ready to respond to details on the fly, while preparing beforehand for as much as possible. I have a tendency to focus on the details that other people don’t think about (but not as much as my mom does!)- in 2007 during the Witch Creek Fires in San Diego, I was the one in the family who took pictures of how the family photos were hanging up in the hallway so as to know where they went when we put them back up, and remembered the little things (like baby books) tucked away in boxes in the garage. So, I like the nitty gritty details, and disaster planning is definitely an area where the nitty gritty becomes the big and important. Also, this last semester in my Records Management class I wrote my final paper on disaster planning, and focused on the cloud (which is also awesome because Sunday morning I went to a session on cloud management! Post here), so I had some background going into this.

I saw Jeanne Drews, the Chief of Binding and Collections Care at the Library of Congress, speak for a little bit on the work that goes into preparing the disaster plan and COOP, or continuity of operations plan for an institution as gigantic as LC. There are a couple of things about planning for LC- like the fact that it has over 140 million items in the collection (upwards of 150 mil, depending on where you look), the oldest building that is part of the LC was built in 1897, it’s got maps, books, A/V recordings, Mary Todd Lincoln’s pearls, the largest flute collection amassed in the U.S….there’s a lot of variety to take care of, so planning has to take all of that into account.

Disaster planning is disaster planning, regardless of what library you’re at. So some of the more important pieces of what I got out of her presentation was the idea of the ICS and the amount of work it takes to create a federal contract. The first, ICS, or Incident Command System, tells you how first responders talk and are trained, because as librarians, we are not going to be first on the scene- we’re going to be second. Having a crosswalk between emergency workers and those who are not would be enormously helpful when trying to communicate in a high tension situation. Think of ICS like a management system that tells people what to do who don’t normally work together. Helpful!

The second bit, how much work it takes to build a federal contract- wow. Just wow. There are loads of different rules that have to be followed, and it’s a very long process. No wonder there are so many lawyers that work for the government!

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ALA Session: Critical Thinking in A Digital Age: Positive Influence of Web 2.0 Tools

Saturday afternoon I went to the first hour of a discussion on web 2.0 tools in education. It was sponsored by American Association of School Librarians, and was pretty interesting. A quick and dirty summary:

Student need for searching and information has changed, because the process of searching has changed and the information available has exploded. The greatest need (because it’s suffered the greatest change) is critical thinking skills. This will come as a surprise to no one, because the educational community has been shouting about it for years now (AMC: I feel like I was even told while in school that we lacked critical thinking skills, but perhaps now it’s less of a motivator and more of a reality?) and librarians and teachers need to work on using tools and programming to help students build skills that allow them to go beyond what the question asks them to write down to what the question asks them to think about.

My favorite part was discussion about the “google-proof question” or the writing of questions that require more than copy-pasting from the homework email into the search box. This term comes from the Electric Educator, and he writes about it in this blog post here. The basic idea is that a google-proof question hits the highest two levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, synthesis and evaluation. Answering questions as these levels requires thought and commitment, and more than a 30 second search.

As for technology mixed in with education, the web 2.0 part of the session if you will, some things to keep in mind. Students don’t know as much about computers as we like to think we do. When shown a fake website, students in one study thought the whole thing was real. They didn’t know how to evaluate it or how to tell good information from bad information. This is something we need to teach. There are bazillions of tools out there (wordpress, the Google suite, Evernote, Edmodo, Skype, just to name a few) that link students and schools together, boost collaboration, and help with critical thinking that should be used often and with enthusiasm, in order to give kids the skills they need to not just survive, but excel in today’s world of computers. Computers are awesome! the Internet is awesome! But we need to make sure everyone knows why they are awesome. And that’s not a googleable answer.

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What blog posts shall come.

I’m sitting on a plane in San Diego right now waiting to boogie back to New York, where work, my internship, and my summer school project await me. But, I wanted to let you know what is in store for this blog.

There are still buckets of sessions to be written up, including disaster response, cloud computing, and the digital life of teens and tweens. There will be my thoughts on attending professional conferences as a student, and how important ties to school are. Since I love clothes so much I’m also planning a post on the myriad styles I saw at ALA.

Then to wrap up, my thoughts on the overall experience- the exhaustion, the overwhelming feeling of the exhibit hall, the number of brilliant people I was exposed to, and all that I had the opportunity to learn. Most especially what I want to do next time and how inspired I was by attending.

But first, I need to get home! So look for all that over the next two weeks, and if there are any ever questions about any of the sessions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them!

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ALA Session: Riding the Publishing Rollercoaster

On Monday afternoon, I struggled to choose between a session on publishing and one on cloud computing. Tough choice! Practicality prevailed, however, and so I opted to add more insight into the process of academic publishing to my copious notes from LIS631. This session did not disappoint!

I took so much away from the panel that’s worth sharing. What follows is a direct, lightly edited transcript of my notes:

Kathryn Deiss, ACRL publishing:

– Question yourself: where can I contribute? What do I have to say?

– Need for white papers, position papers, and reports. We’ll focus on books first

– ACRL = non-commercial, flexible in things they try/do, focus on college/univ. libraries

– Think: content! Content is king! We need to think deeply: does my content matter? Is it needed? Why? How does this advance our thinking in the profession?

– Do all of this before you propose, then fill out the online form [to submit an abstract or finished paper].

– Be creative about content. For example: book with chapters written with departments other than the library. This goes for publishers too! Could co-publish with other companies.

– Be creative in thinking about subject matter, and also about format.

– Think while you write; keep it clean and to the point. Simple and direct.

– Ask about publisher’s pet peeves and avoid them! For example, papers submitted with incorrect citation style.

Katherine O’Clair, editor for a book on information literacy in environmental science:

– Practical and theoretical advice on editing a book w. multiple chapters, process of bringing together content –

– First, call for papers. Be specific as to requirements of the chapter authors (CV, writing sample, abstract). Clarify intent for the whole of the publication. Another way to go might involve directly inviting authors you know.

– Editors: try to think big picture so as to guide your authors, even if introductory material will be written after chapters are in. Authors love guidelines.

– Write for your professional commitments. Write about that which you enjoy.

– Stay tuned to submission dates on all sides. Authors, if you know you will be late, let your editors know. Stay in touch.

– Authors should expect edits – technical as well as related to content. There may even be rounds of edits; it’s important to keep track of versions.

– Find a friendly proof reader before sending chapters to your editor.

– Make sure when you’re submitting that your citations are correct.

– Ask lots of questions along the way.

– Coauthors can be helpful but also stressful.

Wendi Arant Kaspar, journal editor for Library Leadership and Management and Journal of Academic Librarianship:

– Journal submissions are not transactional events; they are iterative.

– Editors rec. lots of submissions; avoid shopping around your article. This doesn’t help your chances of getting published!

– Be sure to read and carefully follow submission guidelines. Make sure the articles you send in are well edited.

– Remember: editors are stewards of the publication. They are following the scope of the publication as closely as possible. Their mission is to follow precedent while following current trends.

– It is ok for authors to follow up in the status of their submission and to hold people accountable to the timeline they set.

– Do a literature search in advance of submitting as a measure of due diligence. What has already been said on this topic? Be sure to cite these articles, including any previous contributions of your own.

– Write something you feel passionately about; write to your calling.

– Bring passion and energy to your topic. This will make your content pleasurable to read.

David Lankes, author and professor at Syracuse.

– Have something to say! Data is not inherently interesting.

– Projects generate publications.

– Think about your impact. What are your goals? Think about the arc of your research.

– Don’t publish to get rich!

– Expand your definition of research: conceptual pieces are okay too! Publishing needn’t be a datafest.

– Papers are vital to academic promotion in LIS. They are the most citeable. Empirical papers, project spin-offs are easiest to publish. Venue matters. Work on something interesting and present it; invites to publish will arise.

– Books are energy intensive and cited least often. Quality of the press matters here as well. Don’t expect full service; you may need to pony up for expenses like touring in support of the book.

– Remember: this is an author’s market! If you truly want to, you can get published.

Char Booth:

– Writing is hard! Can be painful and frustrating. BUT there’s meaning to be found in the work.

– Be nice to your editors, even after your paper returns with red ink. Their jobs aren’t easy either.

– Revising is a pain too, but necessary.

– The process of writing is what makes meaning, not just the outcome.

– Motivation and balance are required.

– Advice: think about the spectrum of publishing – how many ways does writing happen in your life? Your voice and persona are evident thru all of these venues. Make every tweet, blog post, email count! People will read that which is well written. Be the person people want to read.

– Archive ALL of your writing, even the stuff that gets left on the cutting room floor. This content can be sorted through for inspiration at a later time.

– Point / purpose / tone / time

– Keep feasibility in mind. If you can’t do it, don’t do it.

– Document your work! Archive everything you’ve done, even the cut bits.

– Take space from writing as necessary.

– Find like minded folks to act as editors. Find reciprocal relationships.

– Be humble and kind to yourself; be humble and kind to others.

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On Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright and licensing is sort of my bag, so I’ve spent the majority of my session time so far in panel presentations on these topics. On Saturday I heard a panel called Fair Use, Intellectual Property and New Media with Jack Lerner, Kevin Smith, and Dean the Entertainment Lawyer (I didn’t hear his last name and it’s not in my program). Today (Sunday) I listened to Kenny Crews, Gretchen McCord and Carrie Russell speak on a panel entitled Do the Right Thing: Empowering Ethic Copyright Usage in Libraries.

In Saturday’s event, four cases were used as the lens through which the intersection between fair use and new media could be evaluated: Author’s Guild vs Google, Author’s Guild vs Hathi Trust, AIME vs UCLA (about fair use and streaming video via web pages exclusive to certain courses), and of course the recent Georgia State decision. The implications of that last one was on everyone’s mind, due to both the recentness of the judge’s verdict and also the potential impact to the library’s ability to claim fair use in copying for e-reserves.

If a theme emerged between these two panels, it is that copyright and fair use are a two way street; there are no easy answers for librarians seeking to utilize their full rights under section 107 (which discusses the limits to exclusive “ownership”*). Indeed, copyright and the accompanying fair use guidelines are a dynamic duo (or nemeses, like Batman and the Joker?), a set of tools by which one can critically evaluate to justify a set of actions. As Gretchen McCord said, it is super important to understand the motives of those who wish to utilize previous works under fair use, and, as highlighted by Jack Lerner in the Saturday session, to use only that which nails down a point essential to answering a research question or proving a hypothesis.

Where Saturday’s panel was rooted in case law, Sunday’s took on an ethical mien. I was struck that each panelist presented a largely positive view to the proceedings of analyzing the valid applications of fair use. The answers that seem to be presented to their advisees are generally rooted in the ways that an idea or a project can be retooled in order to comply with section 107 (and now also the guidelines found in the decision in the GSU ruling). Where copyright is involved, it is easy to say no. The panelists today posited that we can and should do all we can to find a way to advocate for full and correct use of fair use clauses. Libraries have an important mission to speak for the public while respecting the rights of authors. I would say that we should advocate for balance, but as Dr. Crews pointed out, balance in copyright is in the eyes of the beholder.

* in quotes thanks to Carrie Russell’s interesting argument that holding copyright ought not be equated with property ownership

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