Teen Spaces: Digital Picture Frames

Digital Picture Frame

Denise Byers, the librarian from R. C. Loflin Middle School in Joshua, Texas, shares her idea to display book information in digital picture frames. She took the powerpoint slides she made for the Texas Library Association’s Lone Star books and exported each slide as a .jpg, which can be stored in the frame’s internal memory or on an SD card. She placed the frame on an open shelf at eye level. All the books on the slideshow are currently checked out and have a waiting list. She has recently ordered a bigger, 15″ frame available through the school’s approved vendors that takes video and audio and plans to load book trailers on it. Below is a sample book slide.

Thanks for sharing, Denise!

sample slide

YA-related Podcasts

Weekly Geeks This is my first week participating in Weekly Geeks, a weekly book blog challenge. This week’s theme is book podcasts. I’m an occasional podcast listener — I’ll download a bunch and listen over the course of a couple weeks and then drop off for awhile. For the most part, I’ve listened to public radio podcasts from NPR and PRI, but have also enjoyed Filmspotting and The Bugle. For this challenge, I thought I’d investigate YA-related podcasts.

The YA Literature Review has been around since summer of 2008. Hosted by Vilate, Ragu, Rose, and occasional guests, the podcast features book reviews, author interviews, story readings, and news. They post new episodes every few weeks or so and are also launching a literary magazine next year.

The Read Carpet was a short-lived venture by a group of book bloggers including Adele from Persnickety Snark. It looks like they only produced two podcasts in early 2009. It consisted of five-minute segments from a variety of bloggers on topics related to YA literature including book reviews and commentary. I really enjoyed these podcasts and was sorry to see there weren’t more!

The Fireside Book Chat features reviews of teen books by teens. It looks like the podcast is part of a high school class and is hosted by the teacher. Each segment covers one book and is less than 10 minutes long.

The Screening Room is a video podcast series created by Penguin Books. New episodes are released seasonally and the first five episodes have featured conversations with Lauren Myracle, Laurie Halse Anderson, T.A. Barron, John Green, and Jacqueline Woodson.

YALSA hosts a podcast numbering over 70 episodes. The content includes author interviews, interviews with librarians, conference sessions, and other topics of interest to YA librarians. New episodes come out about once a month, though sometimes more often.

Plus, lots of libraries are podcasting! Hennepin County Library TeenLinks has songs, poems, and reviews by teens, Seattle Public Library Teens Podcast features audio from its events and from its teen advisory group, Cape May County Library makes video podcasts about library programs, and The Orange County Library System podcasts monthly about upcoming teen events.

I’m sure there are more podcasts out there of interest to YA librarians. Let me know of any favorites in the comments!

Twitter for Youth Librarians: Part 2


In Part 1 of Twitter for Youth Librarians, I gave you an introduction to Twitter. Today, I’m going to offer a few ways librarians and other youth advocates can use the service to enhance their professional service.

Connect with other librarians
Librarians are definitely one group who have taken to Twitter. They are sharing information and creating global connections. Follow other young adult librarians to find resources, see what others are reading, and get program ideas. By following a lot of others, it’s easy to get an overview of the hot topics and trends as they’re happening. It’s also a slightly different perspective than just reading blogs or professional literature because Twitter has less barriers to entry. And the format can be more manageable to stay on top of than RSS feeds and blogs.

It’s also an interesting way to attend conferences virtually. All conferences these days establish a hash tag (a set of characters users add to the end of their tweet), making it easy to follow all tweets written at that conference. It can be a bit overwhelming — big conferences mean hundreds of tweets per hour — but it’s worth taking a look at periodically. There can be off-the-cuff, candid reactions, plus lots of links and tidbits of information from presentations. And if you’re at the conference, it’s a good way to find out where the hot ARCs and receptions are!

I’ve started a list of teen and youth librarians to get you started.

Follow authors and others in the publishing world
The YA authors I follow are probably the most active and entertaining users in my Twitter feed. They write equally about their personal lives and their writing lives, and because that community is small, they tend to interact with each other through re-Tweets and @ replies. It’s a fascinating look into the creative process (even best-selling authors have writer’s block) and a great source of information on upcoming books, author appearances, and other book-related news. The rest of the publishing world is also embracing Twitter as both a marketing tool and a way to interact with their customers. There are lots of editors, agents, sales reps and publishing houses with accounts and they’re also sharing lots of insights into publishing trends and book news.

BloggingYA has a long list of YA Authors on Twitter, Sharon Loves Books and Cats has a list of YA book bloggers, and I’ve started compiling a list of editors, agents, and other publishing people.

Participate in Tweetchats
Tweetchats happen when groups of people come together to Tweet about a particular topic at a certain time using a predetermined hashtag. There are several literature-related Tweetchats including #kidlitchat and #YALitChat. InkyGirl has a nice guide to getting started with Tweetchats.

Stay up-to-date with pop culture trends
Being a good librarian isn’t just knowing about books. It’s equally important to keep up with other pop culture trends and to know what your teens are interested in. Follow celebrities like Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato or track trending topics like Jonas and Twilight. Several teen magazines and teen-oriented TV channels are also serving up pop culture gossip on Twitter. Check out my list of teen media for some users to follow.

Peek into the lives of real teens
While the average teen may not Twitter, there is a contingent of extremely media-savvy teens who are embracing the medium. There’s 17-year-old Jane (@sea_of_shoes) from Sea of Shoes, a fashion blogger who’s attracted the likes of Chanel and Urban Outfitters. Sixteen-year-old Daniel (@danielbru) has over 120,000 followers, owns his own teen-focused tech companies, and writes for national technology blogs. And 14-year-old Melik (@gotmelik) is a blogger, designer, and entrepreneur.

Get to know your local area
Twitter’s great for making connections globally, but it’s also a good tool for keeping up with local news and events. Do a search for your town to find local papers, radio stations, and other community organizations to follow. It’s always useful to know what’s going on in your area, and if you start Tweeting about your library’s events, it’s another advertising channel to get the word out.

Twitter can be a bit overwhelming and perplexing for newcomers, and you don’t need to go all out at first. Start by following a few people to get the hang of things. See who they’re ReTweeting, replying to, and following to add to your list. If you add too many people, keeping up with all your incoming tweets can be impossible. You also don’t need to be a prolific Tweeter — there’s no shame in just passively following people to get a feel for what’s going on. And if you decide it’s not for you, move on!

Twitter for Youth Librarians: Part 1


Are you on Twitter? The microblogging service, which launched in 2006, has proven its staying power. According to social media guide Mashable, the site sees over 23 million unique hits a month, and in a ranking by Compete, it’s just behind Facebook and MySpace in monthly views. While it’s natural to lump Twitter in with other social media sites, it serves its own purpose that can stand alone. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you get the hang of it, Twitter can be a fantastic way to connect both socially and professionally.

The Basics
Sign up for a free account at Twitter.com. As part of the sign-up process, you can check your GMail, Yahoo!, or AOL e-mail accounts to see if any of your contacts are signed up. Twitter also suggests a list of popular users to follow. And that’s it! You can then click on Settings to add more information to your profile like a user icon, website, and short bio. These are all a good idea if you want to attract more followers — no one will want to follow you if they don’t know who you are.

Send your first “tweet” using the update box on your home page. Tweets are limited to 140 characters so updates can be sent as a single text messages. You can choose to receive certain updates (just direct messages or just ones from specific users) as texts to your cell phone and set up your phone to send Tweets in Settings. Besides just reading and updating from the Twitter web interface, there are also several desktop and mobile applications to extend its use. I use TweetDeck on my Mac and Twitterific on my phone, but there are others to choose from including Twhirl and FriendFeed.

There is a lot of Twitter terminology to learn, but a few key concepts will get you pretty far. The most important feature is the @ reply. From the web or any Twitter client, you can publicly reply to another Twitter user by putting an @ in front of their username. Replies sent to you show up in your main feed and on a separate @yourusername section of your home page. By default, you won’t see @ replies sent to other users unless you follow both of them, or if they use the @username in the body of the Tweet instead of at the beginning.

Another useful feature is the ReTweet. If you want to share a Tweet from another user, it’s best to give them credit. Simply reply to the tweet, but add RT to the front. Most Twitter clients have a one-click method of ReTweeting, but it hasn’t been adopted into the web version yet (Twitter says it’s coming soon).

You’ll also see hashtags appended to Tweets. These are keywords preceded by a # and are a way to track Tweets related to a certain subject, event, or meme. You’ll often see popular hashtags pop up in Twitter’s trending topics, located on your Twitter home page. To keep track of a hashtag, just search for it on your home page. You can then save the search and access it at any time.

Lastly, Twitter has just rolled out a Lists feature. Lists allow you to put group users publicly or privately, and then see a feed of just those users’ Tweets. You don’t even have to formally follow a user to add them to a list. Since they’re new, it’s hard to say how users will use lists, but for now it seems to be an easy way to find new people to follow.

For youth services librarians, Twitter can be useful in many different contexts. One of those is to connect with your library’s community. There has certainly been a lot of discussion about whether or not teens are using Twitter in any meaningful way. That’s a whole separate post, though, and not something I’m ready to cover just yet. I actually think Twitter can be more beneficial as a professional development and networking tool. Later this week, I’ll cover how librarians can use Twitter to connect with other librarians, the publishing world, the pop culture landscape, and other local organizations.

Follow the blog @yalibrarians or my personal account @wsquared.

Free Blogging Software

Teens have been keeping journals probably as long as people have been writing. But with the ubiquity of computers and internet access coupled with the human need to connect, public online journals, or blogs, have exploded in the past decade and teens are leading the charge. According to a 2007 Pew Internet and American Life project study, 28% of teens 12-17 write their own blogs, more than any other age group. Seven in ten (70%) social networking teens report reading the blogs of others, and three in four social networking teens (76%) have posted comments to a friend’s blog on a social networking site. For such a popular form of communication, it’s crucial for librarians to become familiar with some of the common free blogging sites for their own use and to recommend to teens.


Online since: 1999 and owned by Google since 2003
Alexa U.S. Ranking: 11
URL: yourname.blogspot.com or host on your own domain
Advantages: Uses Google log-ins, so no need to create a separate account; customizable templates, drag and drop layout editor, and ability to write your own code; readers can “follow” your blog, allowing them to read posts from their own Blogger dashboard or Google Reader, which is a great way to attract, retain, and connect with readers


Online since: 2000
Alexa U.S. Ranking: 19
URL: yourname.wordpress.com
Advantages: Lots of free themes, many very professional-looking; large catalog of sidebar widgets; 3GB of free photo storage; integrated stats system
Drawbacks: Full customization only available for a fee; occasionally displays ads


Online since: 1999
Alexa U.S. Ranking: 58
URL: yourname.livejournal.com
Advantages: A strong sense of community with both personal and group journals; multiple levels of privacy available using user-created friend groups; easily follow other Livejournal blogs via your friends page
Drawbacks: Many advanced features like full layout customization, polls, domain name forwarding, and photo storage are only available with paid accounts or by allowing ads on your journal


Online since: 2007
Alexa U.S. Ranking: 178
URL: yourname.tumblr.com
Advantages: Web 2.0 design with really simple account sign-up and user-friendly content posting; encourages multimedia posts; promotes sharing of content with its reblog feature; extensive free theme community; full customization; ability to follow other Tumblrs
Drawbacks: Relatively new, so not as large of a community; skews to the 20-something hipster set

Of course, both Facebook and MySpace integrate blogging features into their user interfaces, so one of those may be the best option for those who are already entrenched in those sites. However, they lack a lot of the customization and interaction features of the standalone blogging sites.

Books by post: DailyLit

I’ve been on a reading kick lately, so when I got a news update from DailyLit (which I signed up for ages ago), I decided to give it another shot. Inspired by serialized newspaper stories, DailyLit e-mails you books in short installments each day. You can get them every day, only weekdays or three times a week. If you want to read more on any given day, you can request the next section. Most of the books available are works in public domain, so this service is particularly good if you want to catch up on classics. I’ve started with a short novella — Daisy Miller by Henry James — that comes in 26 installments. There are a few formatting problems reading it in gMail, but so far I’m enjoying the small doses of literature I get each morning.

Library geekiness

At the College of William and Mary, where I went for undergrad, the library is very near and dear to most students’ hearts. The wonderful tech staff has made a fun web application called Swem Signal, that lets students pinpoint their location in the building and save the url. I’ve seen people use it in AIM away messages to let friends know where they can find them. As the site says, it’s “pretty much the geekiest thing ever,” which is a major endorsement at W&M.