Teen Titles: A Book Review Blog and Podcasts By and For Teens Amy Sutton-Curtis July 26, 2009 LIS 460
Why Now? We want the Yourtown Public Library to be modern and competitive. As of May 9, 2009, The Blogging Libraries Wiki listed approximately 315 U.S. public libraries, including our own (for the adults’ book club), that now feature blogs. Nearly a third of those (90) are directed toward teens. As of July 20, 2009, Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki, listed more than 20 public libraries producing podcasts; more than half of those (13) are for teens.
Why Now? (continued) Online reading and writing hold strong appeal for teens, and may increase reading, writing and information literacy. All forms of reading are valid (Abram, 2008, 21). Millenials read more than their parents do, and create more Web content (Abram, 2008, 21). A recent Pew Internet Report found that teen bloggers are more prolific writers and enjoy writing more than their non-blogging peers (Lenhart, et al., 2008, 51) Pew Internet Reports also reveal: Teens are much more likely than adults to both read blogs and blog themselves (Lenhart & Madden, 2005, i). Teens are more motivated to write when they can choose their own topics and be creative (Lenhart, et al., 2008, ii). Those teens who write for audiences want to make their work strong and interesting (Lenhart, et al., 2008, ii).
Why Now? (continued) Teen involvement “drives the other elements of [Library] 2.0” (Bolan, et al., 2007, 41) Giving teens some control will attract them to libraries. How can a teen’s experience with the library become more interactive and more specifically tailored to the teen’s needs and wants? By using popular technologies with which teens are comfortable, and by allowing them to create and publish online content.
What’s the Plan? Yourtown Public Library will develop: a book review blog for young adults; an associated podcast. Cost should not be a problem: both can be created using software freely available on the Internet; hosting sites are also free. Examples: Cheshire Public Library (Cheshire, CT) Podcastshttp://www.cheshirelib.org/teens/cplpodcast.htm Teen Book Blog http://cpltbb.wordpress.com/ Our working example: Teen Titles http://lis460project.wordpress.com
Executing the Plan Teen librarian will continue to add content on a regular basis. Weekly written reviews at first, plus monthly podcasts Librarian contributions will taper to less-frequent posting (perhaps monthly) as teen interest and participation increases. Teens will be invited to contribute their own written reviews and create reviews for podcasts. Initial teen reviews will be generated by members of the Teen Advisory Board (TAB). TAB members will recruit additional writers.
Executing the Plan (continued) Further promotion/recruitment efforts: Teen librarian will collaborate with media specialists and English teachers at middle and high schools in the YPL’s service area. Collaboration will yield: suggestions for books to review; names of other students who might want to participate; possible substitution of blog/podcast work for more traditional book report assignments Teen librarian will advertise blog/podcast opportunities in school announcements and on flyers throughout schools and the library, as well as on library’s main website. Teen librarian will promote blog/podcast participation during classroom visits. Teen librarian will personally invite teens who come to other activities to also take part in blogging/podcasting.
Executing the Plan (continued) Addressing concerns: Online safety Participants must hold a YPL library card and must register with the teen librarian before posting reviews. Signed or otherwise attributed reviews help make connections with readers, and also give kids ownership of their work. However, to help protect privacy, teen reviewers will be identified by first names only. Appropriate content Reviews will follow existing library policy re: acceptable language (i.e., no hate speech, profanity, etc.). Posts and comments will be approved by the blog administrator (teen librarian) before publication.
Expanding the Program After a three-month trial: Launch a blog/podcasts for kids ages 7-11. It is expected that this program will require more librarian supervision/contribution than the teen version, so the teen librarian will work with the children’s librarian as needed to provide support. Children’s department will hold two workshops at the library to teach the technology, etiquette, and reviewing skills to kids, but completion of the workshops will not be a prerequisite to posting. (Like teens, children will need only a library card and registration with the children’s librarian to become contributors.)
Expanding the Program (continued) Make teen podcasts available on iTunes. Expand teen blog/podcast content to include reviews of other media (such as music and DVDs), and possibly to showcase the work of young local musicians and writers. Immediately: Link reviews to OPAC so readers can locate books or place them on hold.
Evaluation Teen librarian will: Track number of posts, readers and comments (facilitated by blog platform); Survey to find out whether teens find this program valuable and whether it improves teen satisfaction with the library; Report results to library director (qualitative on a quarterly basis; quantitative at six months and again at one year); Collect suggestions for improvement from teens and incorporate as many as possible.
Benefits to Library Library will become known as the place for creative, cool, fun activities, resulting in more frequent use by existing patrons and attracting new patrons, particularly of young adult age. Web 2.0 provides opportunity to “engage with readers…beyond our walls and beyond physical book formats” (Abram, 2008, 22), expanding depth of library’s reach in community. “Web 2.0 can help books circulate” (Abram, 2008, 23) by connecting readers with new titles and encouraging more library use, thus decreasing cost per circ.
Benefits to Teens Traditional literacy and information literacy skills, as well as online safety, will be practiced and improved. Appreciation for the library and desire for lifelong learning will be kindled. A sense of achievement will be derived from publishing online content. “When [teens] are given an active voice in developing programs…, they feel empowered and take ownership in the library. We need to collaborate with our teens, not just our professional colleagues. Teens want to make a difference, and the library is the perfect place for them to have an impact” – Pam Gardow, Memorial HS (Eau Claire, WI) media specialist (quoted in Tuccillo, 2007, 57).
Reference List Abram, S. (2008). Promoting reading using this 2.0 stuff. MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools (15, no. 5): 21-23. Bolan, K., Canada, M. & Cullin, R. (2007). Web, library and teen services 2.0. Young Adult Library Services (Winter): 41-43. Etches-Johnson, A., et al. (2009). Public libraries. The Blogging Libraries Wiki. Retrieved from http://www.blogginglibrarieswiki.net/links/index.php?title=Public_libraries Farkas, M. (2009). Information sharing and education: podcasting. Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. Retrieved from http://www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=Podcasting Farkas, M. (2007). An outlet for creativity. American Libraries (38, no. 3): 28. Fichter, D. (2008). Social media metrics: making the case for making the effort. Online (32, no. 6): 54-57. Lenhart, A. & Madden, M. (2005). Teen content creators and consumers. Pew Internet & American Life Report (Nov. 2). Lenhart, A., et al. (2008). Writing, technology and teens. Pew Internet & American Life Report (Apr. 24). Tuccillo, D. (2007). Standing room only. School Library Journal (53, no. 3): 46-48.