Kick-off: Teens and the Future of Libraries

Make your voice heard as we kick-off a month-long series of conversations around teens and the future of school & public libraries.

About The Speaker(s)

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.

Mizuko (Mimi) Ito is a cultural anthropologist, studying youth new media practices in the US and Japan. She oversees research activities of the Digital Media and Learning Hub and is Chair of the MacArthur Research Network on Connected Learning. She is a Professor in Residence at the UC Humanities Research Institute, and has appointments at the Department of Informatics and the Department of Anthropology, and is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning at UC Irvine. You can Follow her on Twitter at @mizuko.

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Resources

Download a PDF of this session's Livestream Chat archive

Access the collaborative document of key points, insights, questions and resources from this session (open to public comments)

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Key Questions and Comments

  • (06:04) Connected learning is about three different pieces coming together. It's teens' Interest, Peer Culture, and Academic Learning smashing together...Libraries are the perfect place for this kind of learning to happen.
  • (07:39) I dare say that I bet there are a lot of librarians who are already practicing connected learning stuff, but maybe you just don't know it yet.
  • (12:25) Where libraries play such a unique role is that they're a set of institutions that occupy not just purely that sphere of 'Academic Achievement,' but that space of intersection between an individual's Interests and the kind of opportunity that our formal institutions represent in young people's lives.
  • (15:12) Families, and particularly nondominant communities...that might not otherwise have really robust technology access in homes have a really, really positive view of libraries...They embrace libraries in a way that provides a tremendous opportunity for us to reach communities of youth who may feel disenfranchised from schools.
  • (16:56) Libraries have been fantastic places...where young people can get access to the internet and access to computers. What would it mean to start framing it up as: it's the technology, but it's also this learning experience and this connection to others that the library is mediating?
  • (18:05) What are the challenges and issues we're facing in bringing connected learning, social media and new media to library spaces and programs?
  • (22:48) I think a lot of libraries out there are trying to figure out: what's the best use for these [social media] tools and...which ones are the most effective to communicate or to work with or to reach youth?
  • (24:58) I think the impulse to meet kids where they are and recognizing that peer sociability is one of the biggest motivators of engagement is incredibly important. But, then, from an educator point of view, it has to be an authentic purpose for the social media use.
  • (26:15) Building trust [with youth] is really important and not making it feel like you're co-opting their interest space is really important. They have a lot of agency and they take a lot of pride in the spaces they have and sometimes having outside people come in and work in those spaces...it just has to be approached very thoughtfully.
  • (28:32) It's really hard to find the staff time to learn about all these new technologies, or how to use the equipment, or how to do the programs. But I know tons of libraries in the area I work in (outside Chicago) that are interested in coming together and sharing ideas.
  • (31:42) I think libraries being a "quiet space" is a real misconception. Most librarians I know are all about getting dirty, getting messy...we get really excited about making stuff. Whatever gets teens or youth excited, we get excited about...
  • (37:25) I feel like that argument for not adopting new media is waning, just because it has become so ubiquitous. Maybe we can thank all the grandparents who are on Facebook now for making social media a bit more mainstream and less creepy.
  • (38:13) I'm curious to hear more about...the connection to mentors that may not occupy a traditional teacher or librarian role. Is that something that folks see as an opportunity or a challenge in that space?
  • (40:35) Librarians, library workers, and...programmers have that opportunity to take kids into new directions. I always think that's one of our biggest selling points.
  • (40:52) I feel like libraries have always been sort of the window to the world, in a lot of ways, for self-directed learning. Now that window includes all these social communities of interest...
  • (43:42) I think there's a related thread happening on the Livestream about how to bring teens into the design process around this. And teen 'advisory boards' is one mechanism that people have been experimenting with...How do kids advocate to have their communities and interests represented in library spaces?
  • (46:33) I wonder if folks have more positive examples they want to share about library programs, or experiments, or efforts that have really been successful in engaging teens and engaging with connected learning-type goals and new media?
  • (51:34) One thing I thought about that I think is really instrumental is the partnership between the public and school library...You're able to share resources and also use it as a gateway to meet those teens so that you're familiar with their face...If you haven't made a connection with your school library or vice-versa, definitely go out and try to do so.
  • (54:15) I think there should be more opportunities for already existing librarians to have professional development...to help move forward.
  • (55:14) If you are thinking of trying some of these things, just give it a try. You don't have to have all the fancy equipment...it's definitely worth giving it a try just to see what kind of response you can get. Once you get that response, then you can go back to your higher-ups.
  • (56:19) Don't be afraid to try...but, if you can't, there are partners out there in your community who might be able to help you and that's exactly when you call upon those museums, those nonprofits, those people with other expertise.

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List of Hangout Participants

  • Jack Martin - President of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), 2012-2013
  • Mimi Ito - Moderator, Research Director of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub
  • Crystle Martin - Postdoctoral Researcher for the Connected Learning Research Network
  • Wendy Stephens - Librarian at Cullman High School in Alabama
  • Renee Neumeier - Young Adult Librarian at Evanston Public Library in Illinois

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