Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week 9 (Technology and Information Literacy)

          While reading Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online by Anastasia Goodstein, I noticed an interesting dichotomy within teens' online presence. Through blogs, LiveJournals, and social media sites, teens post about their personal feelings and experiences - there is an element of wanting to be noticed or acknowledged. On the flip side, many teens do not want strangers reading and/or commenting on their blogs. Goodstein points out that, "The irony is that because these spaces exist online, teens' most personal thoughts can be discovered and read by the world - whether that world is other students outside of their group of friends at school, students at other schools, their friends' parents, school administrators, or strangers."
           Goodstein suggests that, "not much has really changed about being a teenager," which I find true. Teens are still going to grapple with self-identity, physical and emotional changes, and a myriad of other issues, but the manner in which they encounter such issues changes over time. For example, rather than worrying about bullying, parents may now have to gain knowledge of cyber-bullying. This is not to discount any issues teens face, but to refocus our attention on how they face the issues. I hope the focus also shifts to address how any web presence can affect their professional lives as well. Teens should be educated early in life that much of what is posted online can be traced back and used as criteria by potential employers. Although it's occasionally hard to "censor" what I put up online, I want to make sure my web presence is appropriate for a range of audiences.
          *On a completely unrelated note, we gathered for the Zombie Prom this weekend at the Urbana Free Library. I decided to share my grotesque makeup with you, so please beware.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 8 (Reference and Collection Development/ Censorship)

Whelan, Debra. “Out and Ignored.” School Library Journal Jan. 2006, Vo. 52.

One reoccurring issue I've noticed during my LIS education is that of librarians as gatekeepers, which directly relates to censorship. As LIS professionals, I've come to learn that we will encounter a myriad of issues: from collection development policies to Internet filtering and everything in between. The thought I keep coming back to in regards to this issue is that censorship is not the librarian's job. In my opinion, librarians are meant to engage with patrons; to find out what their information needs are and how to best solve them. Librarians are not meant to prevent patrons from finding information. The thought of librarians blocking patrons, to me, feels like a "playing god" scenario. The root of it is this: information is already out there. It is my job to help people find it, use it, and evaluate it critically. I do not hold a master key, and I cannot stop patrons from finding resources.

Whelan touches on the important issue of GLBT materials in school libraries, as they are a hot item to target for censorship. She includes a quote by Pat Scales, director of library services for the Governor's School for the Arts, "The mistake we often make about young adult literature is that it's only for the student who can identify with it. But straight kids need to read Annie on My mind and Deliver Us from Evie to learn about tolerance." Censorship can easily become highly emotional and irrational but we need to remember the ripple effect it may have. I see my job as providing open access to information and reaching out to the largest number of people possible. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Week 7 (Elements of Librarianship in Youth Services: Programming)

This week, I commented on the official Young Adult Library Services Association blog (YALSA). The original post is titled Teen Read Week: Fiction Science (about the positive effects reading fiction has on our brains). A link to YALSA is here:

Canadee, Amy. “Ten Tips for Starting a Teen Advisory Group”
Chapman, Jan. “The Care and Feeding of a Teen Advisory Board” 

Canadee and Shapman's articles brought up similar points regarding Teen Advisory Boards (TABs).  Both articles mention that any TAB should include time for teens to be social. Chapman points out that it's far more logical and realistic to plan for social time rather than attempting to ban it. I must agree, even though I have never created a TAB. The idea of social time, to me, is important for any group of people, regardless of their club's mission or their age. Socializing is important, and prevalent, throughout our lives. Book clubs, baby lap time sessions, church meetings - you name it, there is a social aspect associated. It's only natural, if we consider the implications. When people (teens or otherwise) go for a week or more without seeing one another, they're likely to check in once they do re-group. I worry that adults put teens in a box and treat them as separate entities. Teens are people like the rest of us: they want to feel welcomed, witness the completion of projects, and have an enjoyable time while doing so.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 5 (Young Adults)

Jones, Patrick, Library Services to Young Adults. Chapters 1, 3, 4. (2002)

Teens are tricky, but only if we approach them with that mindset. The chapters we read this week by Jones made me ponder the true goal of youth services, and if we are working towards that goal.

Some salient points brought up by Jones include the following:

  • The "problem" isn't with the teens themselves, but how they are treated.
  • Youth development should focus on building strengths and reducing weaknesses.
  • Rather than thinking about what we can do for teens, what if we considered what we can do with teens?
  • Youth services and teen programs can be self-fulfilling prophecies, good or bad. 

I subscribe to the idea that the way in which we as librarians treat teens will dictate their involvement in and behavior at the library. Consider this: if I sit at the reference desk and look unamused when teens enter, shush them for chatting loudly, and sigh audibly when they leave behind stacks of books, will they want to use the space again when I'm working? I doubt it. However, if I great them warmly, ask if they need assistance, and truly engage in their task(s) at hand, I'm assuming the end result will differ greatly. The only way I can help teens build strengths and reduce weaknesses is if I am invested in their cause(s).
          The third bullet point directly relates to the paragraph above. If we use our adult brains and continue to live in our adult bubbles while planning teen spaces, collections, and activities, we will not be truly representing teens and their needs. Even if teens desire unrealistic things within a library (say a hot tub, for example), hearing them express their opinions will not hurt the planning process. And who knows - for every absurd request, perhaps there is an equally logical one we had not considered.
           I view youth services in general and teen spaces in particular as ponds that exhibit the ripple effect. If my library wants to shove teens in a corner and keep them quiet, the teens will hear the message loud and clear. I wouldn't be surprised if they disrupted the library intentionally to spite the approach (and I couldn't completely blame them). On the other hand, if a library encourages a teen collaborative space, works to incorporate their wants and needs, and reaches out to teens through programs, I think the atmosphere would be the polar opposite.

Bottom line: We were all teenagers once, too. Let's try to put ourselves back into our converse sneakers and remember what it's like when adults occasionally act like you bring the plague.