Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Librarians Might Be Facing...

So... I was looking at the Comics section of The Seattle Times and what do I see? A cute little baby finding his very first book... what cracked me up was the fact that he wanted to turn it on... so what does that mean?


Is this an indicator of the future of books and reading? Or will books still be around for the sake of being able to physically hold something and turn the pages.

I must say that I find sitting down with a good book to be fun. I really enjoy reading and find pleasure in turning the pages and finding out what happens next.

I have also tried some of the different e-readers available - mainly Adobe Reader (PDFs), Adobe Digital Editions (ePub), and Microsoft Reader (Lit)... these are okay... I end up buying e-books or checking them out from the library website because I want them now and don't want to go driving to the book store or waiting on amazon to deliver them.

I tried audiobooks... but to me they go too slow for me to actually enjoy them... even if they have a great person reading, like Neil Patrick Harris... I can't even make myself listen to audiobooks in the car since I enjoy listening to my music mixes of dance, techno, JPop, JRock, pop, rock, etc...

Overall, I think that books will still be around, even if they end up being offered on different platforms and in different formats. The idea of owning your favorite book and being able to take it with you or reach for it when you need it will not be replaced by digital copies. I mean, I still have my dog-eared copy of Princess Bride which I read for the first time in... 3rd grade? Don't ask me how may times I've read it since...

(Here's where you say - "As you wish...")

You just can't beat snuggling down under a down blankie, with some hot cocoa or tea and some snack, and reading a book... these days, with almost all of us staring at some digital screen all day long, our eyes get tired... and I am sure that coming home and staring at a screen to read a book will only add to your exhaustion.

An Update...

References:

Trap, P. (2010, December 7, 9, 10, 11). Thatababy. The Seattle Times, p. B6, B8, B10, B8.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hitting the Small Time

This post is in response to an article written by Mindy Hung that was posted on Bitch Magazine's online website: http://bitchmagazine.org/article/hitting-the-small-time

The funny thing about this article is that Alec Greven was someone I saw on the Ellen show… I eventually reviewed his books, How to Talk to Girls, How to Talk to Moms and How to Talk to Dads, for the tween audience on my other blog. I can easily see how the media's attention to these kids has escalated their fame… I mean who can resist, right?

The portion of the article that comments about adults perception of the skills that tweens and children are supposed to have floors me… I mean, really? Why can't the kid be able to cook? Or why can't he/she be able to write a book? The era of "The Kids Say the Darndest Things" is kind of over…and we should know by now to respect the talents of our youth, even if we are surprised by it.

I found it very interesting at the push that boys receive by adults to cultivate their talents. It made me think of how possibly society shelters girls more than boys and how it could all be simply because adults believe that girls couldn’t handle the emotional roller coaster that comes with fame.

The one thing that I didn’t like in the article was the section about how girls were overlooked when it came to choosing students to go into gifted programs. In second grade, I made the local newspaper for my high California Achievement Test (CAT) scores and was put into a different school, which offered advanced classes. From a personal perspective, I don't see that to be true – there were a lot of girls in the classes with me… could it be based on where in the US we are? Up here in Washington State might be different… are rural kids more/less sheltered than suburban ones?

Overall, I think that at this stage in their lives, tweens should be pushed to explore the talents that they have. This is where librarians can help by steering young patrons to the right materials to help them figure out who they are. They shouldn't be held back by some fear that they will get hurt on their journey. Let's face it – LIFE HURTS, suck it up.



References:

Hung, M. (2010). Hitting the small time [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://bitchmagazine.org/article/hitting-the-small-time

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tween Programming - Yes, It IS Necessary

Tweens don't necessarily have their own place in the library – most libraries either have tween books mixed in with the juvenile books or occasionally include some lower level books in the young adult section. Is this fair? No. Unfortunately, space is an issue… so is recataloguing… so who knows when this change will be made.

There is however, something that can be done without too much trouble and that is creating programs that are tween-specific. This age group is very inquisitive. Tweens are trying to find out who they are and their likes/dislikes. This is the best time to think about programming that feeds their thirst for knowledge. (See post Meeting informational needs of tweens with different maturity levels and interests)


Tweens are basically untying the apron strings at this point and venturing past the constant hand-holding by parents – they are trying out stuff on their own – so why not give them what they want? I think that offering programming that allows tweens to use their budding creative genius is the way to go. These programs can be less involved for the parents, but can still offer more guidance by the adult(s) present if needed. Arts & Crafts are perfect for this age group.

Also, if the activity is tied to a good cause, the tweens may choose to become more involved in local volunteer groups afterwards. For example, what about decorating paper bags from the grocery store that can later be used to deliver food to food kitchens or the homeless. An earlier post of mine talked about how tweens are eager to help the community and do have concerns – so why not take advantage of that in tween programming. (See post Plugged-In Tweens)

Tweens should be able to feel comfortable during programs offered at the library. During Game On at my library, I noticed that the older kids took over during one evening… I was able to make sure that everyone got a turn, but I am sure that the tweens present felt like they weren't welcome by the older teens. The funny thing is that as the program has continued, the older teens stopped coming and now it is mostly tweens. (The program is from ages 12-18)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Defining Young Adults

This post is a response to another blog post by Mary Pearson, which can be read at

Mary Pearson strikes up a good point about most adults being unsure or unfamiliar with what exactly teen literature, YA (Young Adult) literature is. Pearson comments on an idea that adults have - that the teen experience is one to get through quickly, and how she thinks it amazing. I think I have to agree with her, although while it was interesting… it did have its ups and downs – not everyone was gifted with popularity and looks… therefore creating a bag teenage experience. Oh well. I do think though that those who write for teens have a chance to make those less fun experiences go by faster and provide escape from uncomfortable situations in real life – isn't that what reading is about? Pearson makes a point that teen books are there for entertainment purposes and not to raise children.

Teens and tweens come to the library to find books with characters that are similar to them… so it should be obvious that teen books will have teen-aged characters. Despite being able to read up to adult books, why would tweens and teens care about what a corporate shark was doing before he got murdered and the burnt-out detective that has to solve the murder?? They're more likely than not going to want to read something that resonates with them. Like Pearson said, it is about the teen experience – something that most adults (other than those facing a mid-life crisis) have already experienced. Therefore, it would not be the focus of adult books… unless the book has teenagers in it… but at that stage, the consensus of many adults is that the parents of the teens are pulling their hair out and are stressed at the antics of teens… so another no-go.

The blog post by Pearson makes a good point in trying to put teen fiction in a protective bubble that won't be burst easily.


References:

Mary Pearson. (September 10, 2009). What YA Lit is and isn’t [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/09/what-ya-lit-is-and-isnt

Monday, November 15, 2010

Advocating for Tweens - Someone Has To

Advocacy is a major aspect of serving tweens, both in support of their needs and of what they have to say. Tweens are able to experience more freedom than younger children are; though they are on their way to maturity, they are unable to advocate for themselves.

Tweens lack a complete understanding and recognition of their needs; they also lack the resources to do so. It is up to librarians and staff members to prepare themselves to be a fair and impartial mediator in situations that arise between teenagers and adult patrons. With the proper training and understanding of tween developmental behavior, librarians and staff members can have the appropriate tool kit to not only assess the situation with a keen eye, but also diffuse tensions with information and possible solutions fair to everyone involved.

Even though tweens are close to being grown up, they still need the same nurturing and support that their younger counterparts do. The Search Institute (2007) provides 40 developmental assets, which can be used to assess what type of service and support the library and its staff should be providing.

As advocates, we need to ensure that tweens' time spent at the library is worthwhile. At the same time this would be to show that tweens are valued patrons as well. Tweens using the library should have a sense of belonging; as tweens go through the phase where they no longer fit in the children's section yet aren't ready to become young adults, it is important to show that the library cares. There should be more to the library than the clear split between the juvenile section and the young adult section… what about those in-beTween?

References:

Search Institute. (2007). 40 developmental assets for middle childhood. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from http://www.search-institute.org/40-developmental-asset-middle-childhood-8-12

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Connecting With Tweens Through Marketing

In Westlund's (2010) article, the quote that caught my eye was: "'Today's teens are the first generation to grow up in a three-screen world: online, offline and mobile,' says Erin Cliff, svp of global sales development at AOL." It made me think of the additional work marketers need to go through to plan campaigns to reach their audience. It used to be simple… and now it is not. In the case of librarians, we are basically running around from one platform to another attempting to catch our target audience while they are logged on.

We can take an example from celebrities - these days it is those who tweet most often or make the most connections with their fans that are the most popular – so as librarians we should take the hint and use all possible channels to share library news, book reviews and whatever else that would interest tweens. The article mentioned that teens and tweens have a high expectation of interactive products… so whatever we do as librarians will need to be good. The only way we can do this without hiring a professional web designer is to learn how to use blogs, how to tweet, how to create websites. If we're lucky enough, the library we work for will pay for any workshops or training sessions.

Marketing the library and the books inside can be a tricky thing. I think that the best way that librarians are able to market the books they want tweens and teens to look at is through the various displays they create. The hardest part though is balancing out books intended for girls versus those for boys. Boys are harder to convince to read… and the only way to do so is to make it cool.


References:

Westlund, R. (2010). Teens: One distracted audience. How to reach this multitasking demo. Brandweek, 51(38), T1. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL: http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=54653652&site=ehost-live

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Online Connection to Information Literacy and Reading

As tweens and teens are spending more time online, they face temptation to veer away from books. The truth is that no matter what they're doing online, they are still reading. Going online and looking for something involves various search strategies that they have to employ – sometimes googling isn't enough and they must problem solve their way to finding what they're looking for.

These days many book or author related web sites offer a wide variety of activities and bonus material that enhances the experience. Encouraging tweens to explore the websites of their favorite authors/books would give them an inside view into the author's thought process when writing, a better breakdown of characters or any other interesting tidbits. Some authors post playlists of music on their sites as well as personal thoughts on blogs, creating yet another connection with readers (Beaman, 2006). Author websites also allow a connection with fans – librarians should encourage readers to try and communicate with their favorite author if they want to know more about the book they read and why it was written in a certain way as well as possibly finding out clues to what will happen next.

As for librarians, from a professional stance we can provide and promote media and information literacy to tweens by sharing resources. Creating web pages on the library website that offer a collected list of the author websites of tween books or web pages of resources for projects will help not only connect tweens and teens with the information they are seeking but show that the library is meeting their needs. If librarians also wrote blogs with book reviews and other musings related to tween interests then maybe this would encourage tweens to explore the reading choices we are recommending.

References:

Beaman, A. (2006). How technology is enhancing the pleasure reading experience for teens. Knowledge Quest, 35(1), 30-33. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL: http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=22900553&site=ehost-live

Gilton, D. (2008). Information literacy as a department store: Applications for public teen librarians. Young Adult Library Services, 6(2), 39-44. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL: http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=28717245&site=ehost-live

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cyberbullying

These are chilling statistics:

"Some 72 percent of teens who are frequent Internet users say they've been the victim of online bullying at least once during the past year, with 90 percent of them saying they don't tell their parents about the online incidents, mainly because they feel the need to deal with the problem on their own and are fearful of parental restrictions on Internet use" ("Space bullies," 2008).

"A recent study by the Cyberbullying Research Center (cyberbullying.us) shows that one in five middle-school students has been affected by such malicious acts, which the organization defines as "willful and repeated harm" inflicted through phone and computer technology" ("Bully Pulpit," 2010).

"When i-Safe America surveyed 4th-8th grade students in 2004, they found that 42% of kids had been bullied -- but more than half had never told their parents or an adult And, of the 1500 surveyed, 53% admitted saying something mean to someone online (http://www.isafe.org/). The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that one-third of teens surveyed had been bullied online (Len-hart 2007). A September 2008 online survey detailed in the Journal of School Health stated that 72% of respondents reported at least one online bullying incident -- and 90% said they didn't tell an adult about it" (Fredrick, 2009).

Librarians need to be aware of the undercurrents of tween and teen life. It important to make kids feel "empowered, educated and supported" ("Bully Pulpit," 2010) and spread the message about being responsible online as well as respecting people for their individuality and not making fun of it. Librarians can be prepared with an arsenal of printed materials as well as online resources ready for tweens and teens to discretely access if they're not willing to speak up. If we are able to show that there are ways to fight cyberbullying and provide the tools and backup, hopefully those being bullied will know they have support and will be able to help others with the same problem.

Possible solutions include holding meetings and workshops for tweens and teens concerning cyberbullying. The Monmouth County Library was one that hosted an evening of programming with discussions and performances by a theater group. Other libraries can take this as an example of being proactive. Books and websites about bullying of any kind can not only help the one being bullied but also convince bystanders to help and not participate in the bullying. Sending the message about telling adults is one that librarians should spread; I think that as librarians we should also make sure to get to know the tweens and teens we serve in order to be able to offer advice and be seen as an adult that can be trusted.

ONLINE RESOURCES FOR DEALING WITH BULLIES:

·       Dealing With Bullies – http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/bullies.html
·       It's My Life--Bullies  -  http://www.pbskids.org/itsmylife/friends/bullies
·       McGruff--Bullies      -  http://www.mcgruff.org
·       Stop Bullying Now   -  http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/


References:

Bully pulpit. (2010). Brandweek, 51(38), 12-13. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL: http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=54653641&site=ehost-live

Fredrick, K. (2009). Meangirls (and boys): Cyberbullying and what can be done about it. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(8), 44-5. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database at Persistent URL: http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com/hww/jumpstart.jhtml?recid=0bc05f7a67b1790e4741fae46b91d0b77a72977dbe87219931f6346f30ba057695db0d6833a6ba29&fmt=P Fredrick, K. Mean Girls (and Boys): Cyberbullying and What Can Be Done about It. School Library Media Activities Monthly v. 25 no. 8 (April 2009) p. 44-5

Monmouth County Library hosts program on cyberbullying and sexting. (2010, October 28). Targeted News Service. Retrieved October 31, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 2175119561).

Space bullies. (2008, November) School Library Journal, 54, 11. p.15(1). Retrieved October 31, 2010, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Plugged-In Tweens

The virtual world has opened up a lot of opportunities for today's youth beyond social networking sites and Twitter. Technology is improving ways that tweens can stay connected and up to date with what interests them. As librarians, we should keep our eyes open for new trends in their online world.

As I was browsing online, I found an article in USA Today, about tweens being more socially responsible. I thought that in comparison to when I was in that age group, some 10 years ago, there have been more opportunities to help out and volunteer available simply because it is easier to make people aware of the cause through the Web. When I was a tween, I wasn't very aware of the ways I could help beyond the occasional comments made at school or on kids' programs… mostly the educational ones, though Disney and Nickelodeon did show kids doing good deeds and encouraging viewers to do the same.

This article by Sharon Jayson (2010) is about tweens that "have created their own non-profits, and… websites enlisting the support of kids like themselves who also want to help others." Reading about these kids who are in middle and elementary school is inspiring and makes you want to encourage others to think outside the box in ways to help a good cause.

I think that with so many issues, like poverty, natural disasters and concerning the environment, being in the media so much, that tweens are using their natural thirst for knowledge to become informed and then try to make a difference. As librarians, we should remember to insert some nonfiction recommendations that may interest those tweens that we see showing concern about global issues. Creating displays that link volunteering and doing good deeds with the nonprofit websites made by peers their own age would raise interest in helping the global community.


References:

Sharon, J. (2010, October 14). Tweens reach out to help others at home, globally. USA Today, Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL: http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=J0E033722884310&site=ehost-live

Monday, October 18, 2010

Outliers - They need to feel welcome in the library as well

Libraries are meant to be open to the public – meaning all sorts of people are supposed to be free to use the library… but so what if they can come in – how are they supposed to feel welcome when there aren't many materials that appeal to their population? Tweens and teens coming into the library for reading materials expect to find something that resonates with who they are. They hope to find characters similar to themselves on the shelves and when they don't, I believe that they lose some faith in the library.

David Levithan, writes that "being gay is not an issue, it is an identity unlike his insular town. It is not something that you can agree or disagree with. It is a fact, and must be defended and represented a fact" (2004, p. 44). This indicates to me that authors are aware of what needs to be done in order to properly represent an outlier population; it is now up to librarians to make sure they do so. Levithan believes that, "Silencing books silences the readers who need them most. And silencing these readers can have dire, tragic consequences (2004, p. 44). So this makes me ask, how are we supposed to help a group of tweens and teens that are either searching to find who they are by reading a variety of books in hopes of finding a character similar to themselves or are looking for support?

An inspiring article I read by Carlos Alcala (2007) is about how a High School English teacher saw that there was a lack of gay and lesbian reading materials for her LGBT teens to read. Kim Wallace made the decision to write something that would appeal to her students; Wallace wrote Erik & Isabelle: Freshman Year at Foresthill High and three other books in a series for LGBT teens. I think that this is a great example of someone noticing a population not being represented in reading materials and then putting in the effort to correct that mistake.

References:

Alcala, C.  (2007, November 1). Gay student literature series a hit :[METRO FINAL Edition]. The Sacramento Bee,p. G1.  Retrieved October 18, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1375910221).

Levithan, D. (2004, October). Supporting gay teen literature: an advocate speaks out for representation on library shelves.  School Library Journal, 50, 10. p.44(2). Retrieved October 18, 2010, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale:

The article that inspired this post, about coming out in middle school:

Denizet-Lewis, B., Murray, C., & Buffett, S.. (2009, September). Coming out in middle school. New York Times Magazine,36-41,52,54-55.  Retrieved October 18, 2010, from New York Times. (Document ID: 1873513361).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting Boys to Read in a Pink and Sparkly Book Aisle

 Boys are tough nuts to crack… many boys, due to peer pressure, try and avoid being seen with a book in their hands that isn't the latest hit among their friends. Unless the book is something about cars, boys that get into trouble, sports or war – they're not going to go near it.

A YALSA study of boys averaging age 14, polled boys asking why they don't read: "answers included "boring/no fun" (39 percent); "no time/too busy" (30 percent); "like other activities better" (11 percent); "can't get into the stories" (8 percent); and "I'm not good at it" (4 percent)" (Jacobs, 2008, p. 27). Apparently in fourth grade is when things start to slide downhill. One of the reasons stated is that, again, reading is seen as a girly thing and boys try to avoid it like being smooched by their mother in front of the school.  The article also points out that it is in middle school where the books get thicker and have less and less pictures – things get serious here, including the research required for homework. I believe that this is where librarians can step in by promoting graphic novels and manga to allow tween boys a break from treading in deep water. The point of suggesting books that offer something else than the standard required reads at school is to offer something fun that makes reading less of a challenge/chore.

There's a danger zone for librarians, I think, especially since many of us are women and tend to read books that include emotions and relationships as personal reading choices. What happens often is that not enough boy books are read and there's little to draw from when suggesting a book to a boy, which is why I plan to try and balance out what I am reading for both boys and girls. I noticed that when I was in school, a lot of the in-class reads were books more geared towards girls; many of my teachers were women, so that may have played a role in how things turned out. I don't know how many boys enjoyed reading The House on Mango Street

I think that one way to encourage boys to read is to lead by example – have the men in their lives that they look up to read books. Using male celebrities, like sports stars or actors to encourage reading is a step in the right direction. It would be nice to see READ posters shot more from the style of paparazzi – where the star looks as if they're unaware of the camera and is reading a book and enjoying it. The goal is to show that reading books – especially the fun ones – doesn't have to be done in the safety of a bedroom.

Genres that appeal to boys: adventure, biography, crime and detective, ghost stories, graphic novels, historical novels, horror, humor, informational books, sci-fi, sports, spy novels and war stories

Boys also like magazines and newspaper articles

References:
Jacobs, M. (Sept 2008). Guys read guys books: what's the secret to boys and reading? Give them books about things they like: adventure, biography, science fiction, sports, and yes, even gross humor.  Scouting, 96, 4. p.26(5). Retrieved October 11, 2010, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reading Up – Choices, Choices, Choices… and Responsibilities

 When it comes to reading up, I find that tweens often look up to their older peers for guidance. At this stage, they can't wait until "tomorrow" and want to grow up fast to be able to do what everyone else is doing. I believe it is the same case with reading… even if some of the content goes right over their heads. If a book becomes popular and it happens to be for an older audience, tweens will still clamor to get it and read it in order to be seen as "cool" by their peers – great examples are Harry Potter and Twilight. These books may have messages that require a more developed brain to understand and be able to see what the author was writing in between the lines. Many of the topics that are considered unsuitable contain sex, substance use, violence, and language… but in a way, it is up to the reader to decide whether they feel comfortable reading it. I know there are readers that will just read right through and not even notice the harshness of what they just read because they are more interested in the story or they don't think about how something is inappropriate.

This leads me to an article about realistic fiction – which is a genre that deals with stories that take place in modern time and with characters that experience events that could really happen. Books deal with self-realization, problems, and tolerance among other topics.

In the article by Younker and Webb (2005), the authors focus on the lack of a fair representation of realistic fiction that deals with minorities. The authors find it unfair that many minorities are misrepresented and often labeled as criminals simply because so many books focus on reinforcing stereotypes. The article is about trying to encourage authors and publishers to refrain from incorrectly portraying minorities, thus creating stereotypes. I found that the data presented showed that the books were inaccurate when they portrayed a character from a minority as a drug dealer or trouble maker and I found that troubling. If tweens are to be represented fairly, then it should be made sure that minorities are represented accurately and not in some way that doesn't encourage tweens to grow into well rounded adults.

As librarians, it is up to us to create a collection that supports the members of our community, but how are we to do that when what is available is inaccurate? If these are the titles available, and tweens are looking to read up, then of course they're going to find the content a little more on the darker side of things. I think that creating standards in what is acceptable, not in the content itself, but the quality and representation of that content, is what we should be trying to do. I don't think this is censorship because again, it is not about omitting a book about teens getting in a bad situation, just making sure that there isn't a minority that is being incorrectly represented, when there is a better book available out there with a similar subject, just with a more fair outlook.

Younker, J., & Webb, S. (2005). Mind the Gap: What's missing in realistic teen fiction about minorities. Voice of Youth Advocates, 28(3), 197-201. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database at Persistent URL: http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com/hww/jumpstart.jhtml?recid=0bc05f7a67b1790e4741fae46b91d0b7f692a3af08f1d2bcbd8ee55ab4e909b9d3ec759df678c273&fmt=P

Younker, J. M., et. al., Mind the Gap: What's Missing in Realistic Teen Fiction About Minorities [Bibliographical essay]. Voice of Youth Advocates v. 28 no. 3 (August 2005) p. 197-201

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meeting informational needs of tweens with different maturity levels and interests

Tweens love to learn new things. At this stage, they are still trying to identify who they are (and this continues throughout the teenage years, sometimes into the early twenties). I think that through various displays that include both elements of fiction and nonfiction, tweens can be encouraged to explore new subjects. Tying activities that fictional characters do in books to their nonfiction counterpart is a good way to encourage tweens to read more developmentally appropriate and challenging materials.

As librarians, we need to "encourage every young teen to think critically and continually ask questions about their reading and knowledge, leading them to seek more understanding through better resources" (Hager, 2007, p. 33). I believe that as a librarian, one should encourage not only knowledge, but creativity as well – encourage tween brains to branch out into the more artistic areas. Tie in the need to be fashionable, the need that usually strikes girls as they hit tweendom, with books on growing up. At this stage it would be good to incorporate books that show how there are many different styles/looks for people and that it is important to explore identity. Many famous people have written books on style, including Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen who wrote the book Influence, a reflection on their journey and what has helped make them who they are today. This book included four sections - Fashion, Environment, Art and Giving Back – showing aspects of a well-rounded journey to adulthood. Books like Influence and The Teen Vogue Handbook offer avenues for tweens to explore and wonder about who they are going to become. 



References:

Hager, B. (2007). And knowing is half the battle, when entering the zone: Nonfiction resources for 'tweens and young teens. In S.B. Anderson (Ed.) Serving young teens and 'tweens. (pp. 31-64). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Exquisite Paradox: Making Teens and Young Adults Welcome in Public Libraries.

 This intriguing article presents the idea of a "ninja librarian" that is able to meet adolescents head on and provide the best service for their age group. Joseph suggests that the reason that many library staff have issues when dealing with teens is that they are afraid, that they "feel ill equipped to cope with some of the situations that can arise when dealing with young adults." (Joseph, 2010, p. 107) The key is to understand that when working in youth librarianship it is important to develop programs and services that benefit the teens rather than the library. Taking advantage of the research and guides available, such as the developmental assets created by the Search Institute, will mean that librarians can create the type of environment best suited for each age group. The article also includes suggestions for developing training tools to prepare staff for dealing with adolescents.

I found this article interesting and I like that it highlights a step in the right direction. I think that in the case of pre-teens, or tweens, it is equally as important to understand their need to become increasingly independent while still receiving support and boundaries from adults. As librarians, and library staff, it has to be clear that the point shouldn't be about attempting to force adolescents to change, but should instead be about understanding what they're going through and best responding to their needs. "No amount of signs or shushing, rules or intervention can possibly be as effective as building the skills, knowledge and attitudes of library workers to meet young adults where they are at - and to help them find the solutions, a sense of identity and the positive interactions they need to avoid risky behaviours and to grow into resilient adults." (Joseph, 2010, p. 110) When providing service to adolescents it is very important to understand and be aware of different levels of development and maturity, so being able to ask the right questions is important. Assessing the interests and needs of tweens and teens will allow librarians to become adept at building a positive rapport that in turn makes them feel welcome in the library.
         
References:
Joseph, M. (2010). An exquisite paradox: Making teens and young adults welcome in public libraries. Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, 23(3), 107-10. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database

Search Institute. (1997, 2007). 40 Developmental assets for adolescents. Retrieved September 13, 2010 from http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18

Search Institute. (1997, 2007). 40 Developmental assets for middle childhood. Retrieved September 13, 2010 from http://www.search-institute.org/40-developmental-asset-middle-childhood-8-12

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Teenage Brain Under Construction

It is commonly known that teens are more emotional than adults are, but it has only been recently that we've been able to learn why. In Feinstein's article, we get a chance to explore the science behind teen behavior. "In tests performed on adult and adolescent brains, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals that teenagers actually rely on different parts of the brain than adults for reactions, decisions, and interpretations." (Feinstein, 2008, p. 122) The article goes into the teen's emotional response and lack of logical thinking that occurs in the frontal lobes of the adult brain.

Librarians need to be aware of the causes for erratic teen behavior. Feinstein provides many scientific reasons for librarians to find new ways to form a preemptive strike against visiting adolescents. Feinstein suggests improving the ways adults communicate with teens, though "it takes vigilance, patience, and a sense of humor on the part of the adult brain." (Feinstein, 2008, p.122) I think that as adults, we must remember that we were once teenagers and must have frustrated the adults around us – turnabout is fair play. Why not look back at when we were teens and recall what upset us about the way adults treated us and then try to avoid recreating those situations.

Feinstein also brings findings of a study that looked at what impact violent video games had on teenage boys; a lot of playing equaled increased impulsive and aggressive behavior. Though this has been proven by some research, I still find video games to be an important part of being an adolescent. The library system for which I work provides 2 hours every two weeks for teens ages 12-18 to play video games. This gives an outlet for many teens who are troubled as well as provides a chance to socialize in a safe environment; their emotional and social needs are met through joint video game sessions. With the right selection of games that are positive and that encourage interactions there is a chance to enhance the development of teens. In Paulson and Clabaugh's (2008) article, it states that teens playing the less violent and more social games "are much more engaged civically and politically than their peers, reporting greater interest and involvement in politics, volunteer activities, and raising money for charity."

References:
Feinstein, S. (2008, June). The teenage brain under construction. Voice of Youth Advocates, 31(2), 122-3. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.
Paulson, A., & Clabaugh, R. (2008, September 17). 'Loner' image out: For teens, video games often social. Christian Science Monitor, pp. 1-11. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Understanding Kids in the Middle

 This article is about understanding what adolescents are going through and attempting to understand them. Weiner specifically addresses the issues facing children ages ten to fifteen, who are literally "in the middle." These tweens who are truly in be-tween are experiencing their life as if on a rollercoaster and are developing physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Weiner addresses the issue of handling the tween rollercoaster by suggesting one understand "PIES (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Social development of young adolescents) and use this information when working with middle school kids by creating strategies that meet their needs." (Weiner, 2007, p. 74)

I believe that this article introduces the idea that librarians should spend a little more time understanding the WHYs of tween behavior and learning the best ways to interact and handle tweens in the library. Weiner gives some basic theories and suggestions about middle childhood; libraries could use this information to build a workshop curriculum to help all staff to understand and work/interact positively with tweens.

Growth spurts cause kids to be gangly and uncoordinated and yet are full of energy; those working with kids should be ready to let them use up their energy. Librarians should include activities that allow movement and yet be prepared for those moments where kids fidget and can't hold still. Librarians should never hold that against them. At this stage in life, curiosity comes into the equation and kids need to be challenged and have their interest piqued. This is the perfect opportunity for library staff  to broaden the horizons of young minds and also showcase the library collection and highlight the areas that interest tweens. There is also an increased need for independence that must be met carefully as not to overwhelm them when they may not be ready. Boundaries should still be set and librarians should emphasize the rules while not being too harsh about emotional outbursts that come hand in hand with this age group. Being present in the children/youth area of the library shows not only interest in what tweens are doing/reading, but also gives opportunities to build rapport as well as carefully encourage proper library behavior.
           
References:

Weiner, C. (2007). Understanding kids in the middle. Principal (Reston, Va.), 86(4), 74-5. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dozens of Teens/Tweens in the Library at One Time? Why Not?

This article begins explaining how the new branch of a Texas library was created. The branch happened to be located near an elementary school and junior high school, which at first seemed the ideal source of automatic patrons. Unfortunately, employees soon found themselves overrun with tweens and teens, unable to corral them despite attempting various programs and activities. It was easy to see that "teens seem to want to be in the library, but not to have to "do" any prescribed activity." (Brannon, 2009, p. 93) Regular patrons complained and the library sought many solutions but soon realized that they had no "responsibility to create a form of after-school daycare for these patrons." (Brannon, 2009, p. 93) Luckily, the library soon figured out ways to deal with the herd of stampeding adolescents by being present throughout the library during after school hours.

In my opinion, very little was done to understand what adolescents were going through and instead the library staff only chose to keep an eye on the tweens/teens after failing with the plethora of offered programs that did not hold their interest. Though some rapport was built, it seemed as if no thought was put into how adolescent development affects teen/tween behavior at the library. According to the American Academy for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, at this stage of their lives teens and tweens constantly test limits and rules, and have a "tendency to return to childish behavior, particularly when stressed." (American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 2001) Brannon did mention in the article that students "had the right to be here and the right to engage in whatever activities they wanted as long as they followed the rules." (2009, p. 93) Brannon did not include the methods used to explain the rules to the adolescents other than a brief mention of speaking with the principals of the schools and sending letters home; the author could have included some examples of actual situations in the article. Tweens and teens like to feel as if they are valued; treating them like troublemakers, without taking the time to explain the importance of responsibility and proper behavior along with consequences can make adolescents resent such an approach and misbehave even more. I think ideally, emphasis should be put on sharing of resources and the importance of respect in order to overcome such a situation in the library.

References:

American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry. (2001, June). Normal adolescent development part I. Retrieved September 19, 2010, from http://www.aacap.org/page.ww?name=Normal+Adolescent+Development+Part+I&section=Facts+for+Families

Brannon, S. (2009). Dozens of teens/tweens in the library at one time? Why not?. Texas Library Journal, 85(3), 92-3. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

INTRO

So here I am, getting ready for my next to last semester at San Jose State University... oh so close to completing my Master's in Library and Information Science.

I hope to be able to maintain a sort of reflective journal with entries on various professional readings that focus on Tweens. Each entry will include bibliographic information and my reflection/response to specific articles and readings. 

Dimidium facti qui coepit habet.
What's well begun, is half done.*
- Quintus Horatius Flaccus

* - I would like to make a grammatical correction and mention what my elementary school teacher once told me - a turkey is done, you are finished - unfortunately it just wouldn't rhyme so well (-_-;)