Technology and Teens: A Winning Combination

Erica Compton and Sue Walker

Keeping current with technology and attracting teens to the library are challenges faced by staff in all types of libraries.  Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) staff has combined the two by promoting library participation in Teen Read Week (TRW) and Teens and Technology Week (TTW) activities since 2010. The number of participating school and public library libraries, teens, and quality programming have increased as a result of this approach.

Both TRW and TTW are sponsored in October and March respectively by American Library Association’s (ALA’s) Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). For several years, ICfL contracted with YALSA to present a six-week course on the impact of different technologies on teen literacy.  The course included social networking tools such as wikis, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.  The overview was useful, but participants did not have an opportunity to extensively use any technology and develop methodologies for creating teen-oriented programs.  Since the course was conducted electronically with one or two face-to-face meetings in Boise, participants had limited opportunities to network and learn from each other. Finally, TTW occurs in March, but no training/programming opportunities existed for the remainder of the year.

Teen Read Week 2010

In 2010, ICfL decided to concentrate on fewer technologies and provide resources for libraries to attract and engage teens.  The first technology selected was creating videos.  Participating school and public libraries registered to work with teens to create public service announcements (PSAs) promoting their libraries and were provided Flip cameras to video-record the PSAs.  Mentors in each region supported participants after the initial training. Submitted PSAs were posted on the ICfL website and teens and library staff invited to vote for their favorites. Examples of PSAs can be seen at:  http://libraries.idaho.gov/files/2010TRWWebcontentarchive.pdf

Those that completed the coursework received digital picture frames to promote their libraries both internally and externally. In the follow-up survey, the following statistics were reported:

Participating libraries:                                                      34

Type of participating libraries:                                    Public: 65%        School: 35%

Libraries participating in TRW for the first time:  41.2%

Participating teens:                                                                         3190

Effectiveness of digital frames:

Very effective  Somewhat effective                       Not very effective           Not at all effective

52.9%                                    11.8%                                                    5.9%                                      2.9%

Likelihood of participating in TRW next year:

Highly likely                        Somewhat likely                               Not very likely   Not at all likely

85.3%                                    11.8%                                                    0.0                                          2.9%

Teens and Technology Week 2011

For Teens and Technology Week 2011, ICfL again used videos to build upon the earlier foundation, but this time book trailers were highlighted.  Staff also decided to present training in four regions throughout the state in an effort to include more staff from libraries that might not be able to travel to Boise.  A final meeting for all participants was held in Boise.  Training included the use of Jay Cut, a free video editing tool, and how to develop effective book trailers. Regional mentors were again recruited to help troubleshoot problems as they arose, and participants received digital photo frames to enable them to promote the library throughout the community.  Statistics demonstrated a 33% increase in number of participating libraries:

Participating libraries:                                                      45

Type of participating libraries:                                    Public: 64%                        School: 36%

Libraries participating in TRW for the first time:  44.42%

Participating teens:                                                                         1248

Likelihood of participating in TRW next year:

Highly likely                        Somewhat likely                               Not very likely   Not at all likely

66.7%                                    28.9%                                                    2.2                                          2.2%

Respondents reported the regional training was preferred to two trips to Boise.  They also found the intensive training on one tool very helpful in their ability to share the technology with teens.

Activities are described at: http://libraries.idaho.gov/files/2011TTWEventswriteup.pdf

Teen Read Week 2011

Because teens love photos, ALA READ® software was selected for Teen Read Week 2011.  The software contains different backgrounds and READ® fonts that allows user to create posters and other marketing materials.  In support of the 2011 theme “Picture It @ Your Library”, 35 participating libraries received the software with Photoshop editing software in addition to the backgrounds and fonts. Teens were challenged to create a poster with their favorite title and submit a short essay as to why they selected that title.  Despite the challenges of taking photos, coaching teens through the software, and convincing them to write an essay, the project was a success for most libraries.

View the posters and essays at: http://libraries.idaho.gov/files/PosterEssayList20111117Swal_0.pdf

In addition to the libraries that participated in “Picture It@ Your Library”, additional libraries sponsored events during TRW. All participants provided the following feedback:

Participating libraries:                                                      71

Type of participating libraries:                                    Public: 55%        School: 45%

Libraries participating in TRW for the first time:  16.4%

Participating teens:                                                                         4893

Effectiveness of ALA READ Design:

Very effective  Somewhat effective                       Not very effective           Not at all effective

34.3%                                    26.2%                                                    7.5%                                      4.5%

Likelihood of participating in TRW next year:

Highly likely                        Somewhat likely                               Not very likely   Not sure

68.7%                                    26.9%                                                    1.5%                                      3.0%

Teens and Technology Week 2012: Statistics from the previous TRW indicated that the decrease in libraries reporting the effectiveness of the ALA READ® Design Studio software during Teen Read Week 2011was due to a lack of hands-on training.  For that reason, Teens and Technology 2012 again used the READ® software, but this time the software was ALA’s READ® Genres and Subjects content that did not require the use of Photoshop to edit the photos.  Instead, participants received training and written tutorials for using GIMP, a free photo editing software.  The use of GIMP reduced the cost of the ALA READ® software, which allowed more libraries to participate.  In addition to learning about GIMP, participants learned how to take good photos, how to develop and implement programs, and ways to use the software to create dynamic marketing materials.  A toolkit with a variety of media to create marketing materials was provided to each participating library. Libraries that fulfilled the course requirements received Inkjet printers to print future marketing materials such as window clings, tattoos, and decals.

Examples of both teen created projects and marketing materials are available at: http://libraries.idaho.gov/landing/tweens-and-teens

The feedback from this coursework:

Participating libraries:                                                      48

Type of participating libraries:                                    Public: 60%        School: 40%

Libraries participating in TRW for the first time:  31.4%

Participating teens:                                                                         1609

Likelihood of participating in TRW next year:

Highly likely                        Somewhat likely                               Somewhat unlikely         Extremely unlikely

61.5%                                    29.5%                                                    4.5%                                      4.5%

Based on the feedback from these four activities, ICfL staff has learned:

•             Teens will participate in activities involving technologies they use and enjoy

•             Providing hands-on training increases library staff’s ability to successfully implement teen            activities involving technology

•             Training at the regional level increases library participation

•             Focusing on different uses of the same technology reinforces learning and expands program                     possibilities

•             The same technologies can be used effectively in both programming and marketing

For these reasons, ICfL staff plans to continue providing learning opportunities twice a year and focusing on one technology of interest to teens.  Training will occur in various regions throughout the state and will involve hands-on use of the technology to prepare library staff to effectively use it in programming and marketing. ICfL will continue to provide resources to support programming with the technology as much as funds allow.

For ideas on programs for either TTW or TRW and to view previous teen creations, check out ICfL’s Tweens and Teens website: http://libraries.idaho.gov/landing/tweens-and-teens

Contact Erica Compton or Sue Walker at ICfL for more information.  Upcoming programs will be announced on LibIdaho and the ICfL website.

Erica Compton has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education and started work at the Commission in 2010 as a Project Coordinator. Most of her time is spent working on Read to Me projects. She is also fortunate to coordinate all areas of teen services at the ICfL. Erica was one of 17 Idaho library staff statewide to participate in theTransforming Life After 50 Fellowship which focuses on services for the Boomer generation. She is a member of the recently formed Mid-Life Adults Advisory Committee.

Sue Walker has been a Library Consultant at the Idaho Commission for Libraries since 1998.  Her current projects with the Talking Book Service, Teen projects, and the newly created Mid-Life Adult program allow her to work with library staff from all types and sizes of libraries-a real perk of the job!

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