Getting Library & IT Admins On-Board with Leveraging Social Media

How do you convince your admins that social & digital media access and integration is a worthwhile investment?

About The Speaker(s)

danah boyd is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research; a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University; a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School; a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society; and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. Her research focuses on how young people use social media as part of their everyday practices, and she helped co-author the book Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out. You can Follow her on Twitter at @zephoria.

Jack Martin has worked in public libraries since the age of thirteen when his mom volunteered him to work at his local library in Cornelia, Georgia. Jack first got his feet wet in the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) as a committee member of the Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers team. After that he served on the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award committee. Following that he served on YALSA's award winning Board of Directors from 2010-11 before becoming President in 2012. You can follow him on Twitter at @yalsapresident or @jacksondevious.

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Key Questions and Comments

  • (05:42) It's really important to realize that young people are engaging with these social media as a way of participating in a new form of public life. They're trying to get access to a public world that they, for many reasons, have actually been removed from.
  • (06:50) Socialization is not separable from learning. A lot of how we learn about how the world works is really by socializing, by interacting with other people. So there's a learning component to that socialization.
  • (08:30) The assumption is that we can protect young people from the world by making certain that they don't have these kinds of interactions that could be potentially problematic...I think that this puts librarians, in particular, in a very funny position...
  • (09:47) It's not just about restricting or not restricting; it has to do with questioning the role of the librarian in helping young people navigate a lot of this material...When you go into a mode of just restriction, you don't end up building out the ways of having trust and respect, or being able to create a meaningful educational opportunity.
  • (12:15) It's not just about whether social media is good or bad, but it's about "How do we help young people navigate all of the media that's in front of them in a way that they can be really informed and engaged?"
  • (13:15) How do we combat the stigma that social media sites don't hold educational or learning value for youth?
  • (16:50) Right now, I think we have a population of adults that are very unfamiliar with how schools use social media to help students learn.
  • (20:12) Whether we choose to give access to kids or not, they will get access [to social media]...How do we manage that and help kids be information-literate and be smart about it?
  • (23:54) What are the primary points of resistance that the library admins raise for bringing in gaming and social media? Is it around safety concerns? Is it around privacy?
  • (26:07) In a lot of schools, if their networks are tighter than a drum, it's...not so much they're concerned about student safety or privacy. They're concerned about getting flak from an administrator--an assistant principal, for example--that is afraid that, by giving students access to this, they're going to increase the number of discipline referrals they have to do deal with and discipline issues.
  • (29:32) I think it's really important to tease out the moments when we're trying to address the actual safety "concerns" and the safety "fears"...There are a lot of fears about how technology will be used in ways that are often mythological...abduction and rape come up a lot...versus the concerns that parents and community members have that are much more grounded in the experiences that they've had with their kids.
  • (35:49) Do you all think that librarians can ensure that teen library spaces will good safety and digital citizenship with enforced user policies and guidelines? Or, the flip side, is it better to promote an environment of trust and be more 'hands-off' when it comes to monitoring youth?
  • (37:10) [As librarians,] you should leverage that unique position (when you're not in a custodial role)...to be able to ask the critical questions that develop the sensibilities, rather than just trying to regulate the behavior or just trying to walk away from it.
  • (42:34) What do you all do when...youth find a workaround [for website blocks]? Is it a moment for reflection on responsibility? What do you do when that happens?
  • (44:56) Our responsibility is to offer people and teens the choice to use [technology] in a variety of ways, and also lead them to knowing how to do that...Just because it appears that your teens know what they're doing, it doesn't mean you write off the need for instruction or education or assistance.
  • (47:15) [Addressed to John] How did you make the case for "open" in your school district?
  • (53:40) How can we shift the dialogue around youth access to social media from fear and anxiety to one of actually empowering youth?
  • (57:40) We're so focused on the technology, but the technology is not the issue. And, in a few years, we're going to look back and go, "Why were we so focused on the technology?"...What I think it really comes down to is: "How do we empower young people?" Period...
  • (58:17) I think that one of the big challenges for all of us who are living and breathing this is to help make technology not the center of focus...help people return the focus on young people, on their learning, on their well-being. I think that's where we actually see magical change happening.

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List of Hangout Participants

  • danah boyd - Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research
  • Jack Martin - Moderator, President of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), 2012-2013
  • John Patten - Director of Technology and Information Systems for the Sylvan Union School District
  • Gina Millsap - Chief Executive Officer of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
  • Paula Brehm-Heeger - Central Region Manager at Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and past YALSA President

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