Technology Trends in Libraries & the Emerging Generation

I gave this presentation last week at the Michigan Library Association Spring Institute. Fun times!

It’s a different presentation for me – talking about technology trends for teens and kids. Thankfully, I have three teenage kids of my own, so it really wasn’t too big of a stretch.

Anyway – here’s the presentation – I created one with slightly more info on the slides. Enjoy!

Online Storytimes by Wake County Public Libraries ROCK

Kevin Smith just pointed me to Wake County Public Libraries‘ series of online storytime videos. Wake County made them to support their local Every Child Ready to Read initiative.

They’re nicely done – go watch them! Here’s the link to their Youtube Playlist for all the videos. The video embedded in this post is an animated sing-along song video … and now that song is going to be stuck in my head the rest of the day. Can anyone say “earworm?”

And something to think about – we’re making digital branches. How are your YA/Kids/teens/etc services represented on your library’s digital branch? Currently, my library’s kiddo population is represented, but it’s sorta spotty (and we have an emerging plan to fix that – our Teen and Tween pages are the start of that). How about you? Some things to think about:

  • Are your webpages focused on kids? Or is it really just for parents?
  • Are your in-house activities mirrored online, like Wake County’s storytime videos? Or craft time? etc?
  • Games, fun stuff, goofy interesting facts? Or … homework help? Probably need both.
  • Older kids (think 13 and up) – social media? That the kids actually use?
  • Staff who know how to do all the above activities, or a way to train them?

How about you? What cook stuff for kids and teens does your library do on their digital branch? I’d love for you to share!

Teen Tech Week Mini Grants

Some of you might have heard about this – just passing it along: YALSA has some Teen Tech Week mini grants to give out to some lucky libraries! From Yalsa’s website:

“Thanks to our 2008 Corporate Sponsor Dungeons & Dragons, you could win one of twenty mini grants for your celebration! Mini grants of $450 and $50 worth of Teen Tech Week products are available to YALSA members who plan to offer unique, engaging programming activites, services or resources to celebrate Teen Tech Week in their community. Download the official rules and submit the application form and your proposal to the YALSA office at [email protected] by January 7, 2008.”

So if you want to do this, get those application forms in fast!

Don’t Set Your MySpace Page Profile to Private!

library myspace  pageI just saw Plainfield Public Library’s MySpace page (via Michael Stephens). Well, not really – take a look at the screenshot – their MySpace profile is set to private.

So what? Well… it’s a usability and experience thing. There will be MySpacers that want to peruse the page, see what programs the library has to offer, etc – and not want to sign up to be a friend of the library. By setting their profile to private, the library is basically blocking all their great MySpace content from ALL POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS. It’s sort of like saying “yes, you can enter our library building! Of course! But – do you have a library card? ‘Cause you can ONLY enter our fine library if you have a library card.”

The newspaper article about the page (aside – extremely cool they received press about their MySpace page!) quotes a librarian saying they’ve added more than 80 friends to the site since August. My guess? They’d get more friends if the profile WASN’T set to private.

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More Myspace Thinking

I’ve been looking at some library myspace accounts lately, notably Steele Creek Library and Denver Public Library’s eVolver Myspace accounts. Both are way cool. Steele Creek, especially, has a nifty background on the page that I think rocks.

And both sites have great content – they both use the blog part of Myspace, so any of their myspace “friends” will be updated on events and new stuff when the libraries decide to update. And both use the Blurbs section for different things: Denver points to their Ask a Librarian service, their teen website, and includes a catalog search interface right in Myspace!

Steele Creek Library includes Youtube videos of library events – which is an amazingly cool way to use Youtube… and Myspace… simultaneously.

Then there’s the usual comments section where kids say stuff like “We heart you for the freinds addy”…

I think both these libraries are really going for it, and getting a lot of mileage out of their myspace accounts. I also think they could go one or two steps further. Denver’s Myspace account includes popular music – some band called Hot IQs plays when you go to the page. But as far as I can tell, Denver Public Library doesn’t own a copy of the CD (it doesn’t show up in their catalog, anyway). You have the option to pick songs on myspace – so why not pick things that teens can check out, and even link from myspace directly to the catalog record? That’d be one cooler, for sure.

My other idea is this – Myspace has two types of accounts: the normal one, and one for musicians/bands. The added benefit of registering as a band? You can upload your original songs to your myspace site for everyone to listen to download to their iPods, etc. Pretty cool for bands.

But wait! Can’t a library be slightly devious, and register as a band? Heck – right now we’re registering as a teenager (ex – Denver Public Library is described as an 18 year old female). So why not register as a band? That way, you can download an audio file (I think up to 4 of them, actually). And what could those files be? How about:

  • A compilation of 30-second samples of new music at the library?
  • Your hip library podcast on upcoming teen books
  • A regular what’s hot at the library podcast
  • original music from local bands
  • etc

This type of thing provides the library with another way to get into your teen’s iPod… which is a good thing!