Everyone Let’s Get Social

Having just attended a workshop where we talked about social bookmarking and tagging, I thought this would be an opportune time to tell you all about a fun project I worked on early last winter!  Two fellow students and I had been tasked with proposing a “digital information resource” — yep, pretty broad!!!  But our group had a strong interest in teen librarianship, and I was riding high on Andrea Lunsford’s Stanford Study of Writing, New Literacy, Content Creation, blah blah blah, and so we easily decided to propose an interactive, social catalog for teens.

Reading Rants Home

If you don’t know much about social cataloging, don’t worry — it’s a phenomenon that’s been gaining momentum over the past few years, and you can read all about the theory and the nuts & bolts behind it in our paper if you’re interested.  Continue reading


Bento Mania! Resources for Really Cute Lunches

Yellow Bento

One of my favorite things about being a librarian is that, although one day I won’t know the first thing about a subject, the next day I’ll be obsessively ordering products on the Internet to feed a burgeoning hobby.

Bento Montage

This February at ICPL, I was tapped to help put together their annual Anime Fest.  My little brother and my brother-in-law both thought this was HILARIOUS, being fairly well educated on the subject of Anime themselves.  They knew I was going to require some guidance.  Continue reading

Video Games for People Who Don’t Like Video Games

Recently I decided that, seeing as I am married to a die-hard video gamer, it was only right for me to gain a little more exposure to the sport.  My husband passed the comprehensive exam for his PhD just last week, and to celebrate, I dusted off the Wii and finally played it with him for the very first time in the 10 years that we’ve known each other.

I did veto Legend of Zelda (too action-adventurey), Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (too role-playee), Super Mario Sunshine (too platformery), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (too beat-em-uppy), Medal of Honor (too first-person-shootery) and Madden NFL (too sporty — wow, how is it that Aaron even actually loves me??), but I did find a few in his collection that I was willing to try, and in fact actually enjoyed.  I guess I’m what you’d call a casual “party” gamer–quick and dirty, in and out!  Here’s what we played:

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
Bananas, hell-ooo!  With the added bonus of monkeys, ladybugs, and aliens, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz is a collection of 50 exciting party games, including “spear the fish,” “shoot the UFO,” and “catch the ladybug on a stick.”  What I like best is that all the games are short & sweet, with a variety of Wii Remote actions to keep things interesting.
Wario Ware: Smooth Moves Wario Ware
Wario Ware is essentially a big collection of super fast, super silly, repetitive microgames.  I appreciate the corny scenarios, from fanning giant robots off a cliff, to dislodging bananas from your nose (again with the bananas!). The pace speeds up as you progress, adding a nice frantic dimension to gameplay.
Rayman Raving Rabbids Rayman Raving Rabbids
What is not to love???  Crazy little bunny rabbit games, including cow-tossing, plunger-shooting, and disco-dancing.  I was skeptical about having to use the Wii Nunchucks with this game, but it ended up being super fun.  We had the hardest time with the “keep the bunnies in the bathroom” game and, surprisingly, the jump roping game.

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Being a Librarian Who Hasn’t Read Harry Potter is Like Being an English Professor Who Hasn’t Read Hamlet

Harry Potter Costumes

I was working as a Department Manger at a Barnes and Noble store in Burlington, Vermont, when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out. We held a midnight release party, and I remember children trying to stab each other with wands for several hours before they were finally allowed to buy their books and go home. Many of the parents came in full costume, and it was obvious that they were more obsessed with Harry Potter than their kids. The next morning, sales associates arrived to work crying, having stayed up since 2 a.m. reading only to learn of their beloved Dumbledore’s tragic demise.

Five years later, as a public librarian, the fact that I still haven’t read Harry Potter feels like a dirty little secret.  I can’t help but recall that urban legend of academia, as told by Pierre Bayard in How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, in which an English professor reveals during a faculty cocktail party that he’s never read Hamlet, and is instantly fired.

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ICPL Technology Petting Zoo 12/11/09

The Iowa City Public Library put on a fantastic Technology Petting Zoo today!  ICPL’s Emerging Technology Committee offered an inservice session to expose library staff to new gadgets, including the Sony eReader, Overdrive eAudio, iTouch, the CanoScan Scanner, and eeePC.  I presented on Flip Video, which I’ve used with ICPL teens in Teen Tech Zone to help them produce their own YouTube videos.  You can check out my Flip Video presentation notes below, or you can click here to download the pdf.

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“The Vampire in the Rocket Ship”; ILA Annual Conference 2009

Newsflash: kids love fantasy & sci-fi!  Yolanda Hood and Kelly Stern came to the Iowa Library Association 2009 Annual Conference to talk about how fantasy and science fiction have become a lot more accessible to teens (and grownups) who don’t necessarily love “high-fantasy.”  They had lots of cool titles to recommend to librarians who want to connect with their teen users; these are 5 of my favorites:

A Taste for Red by Lewis Harris

A Taste for RedStephanie, aka “Svetlana,” is a goth-clad sixth grader who eats exclusively red foods, sleeps under her bed, and discovers that she can control people with her mind.  She’s also convinced that she’s a vampire.  Stephanie / Svetlana has a new teacher, Mrs. Larch, and she thinks they might have something in common!  For instance, Mrs. Larch has a suspiciously dark wardrobe…  But is Mrs. Larch really on her side?  Reader beware:  this book has one really dark scene with a dead body; its probably best for 3rd-7th graders.

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“Close Encounters With Digital Citizens”; ILA Annual Conference 2009

So these are some things I overheard librarians saying about Lee Rainie, founding director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, at the 2009 Iowa Library Association Annual Conference:

“He just keeps throwing data at you and it’s awesome!”
“He talks so fast and I love him!”
“Lee Rainie is my new boyfriend!”

Lee Rainie: Iowa Librarians have a crush on you.  I hope you don’t think that’s weird.

In his talk “Close Encounters With Digital Citizens,” Rainie mostly threw a lot of data at us about how teenagers use the internet.  He gave a similar talk in January, and those slides are available here (via slideshare):

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New Literacy at the Public Library

A few weeks ago, Wired magazine published a great article by Clive Thompson on “the New Literacy, debunking that tired old argument that TV, computers & texting are destroying literacy and civilization.

Au contraire, what Andrea Lunsford found in a recent study at Stanford is that more young students are generating so much more creative content in their free time than any previous generation, and that this content is often highly nuanced — they know how to assess their audience and adapt their tone to get their point across.  And my favorite quote from the article: “The brevity of texting and status updating teaches young people to deploy haiku-like concision.”

At my public library I encourage teenagers to blog, create podcasts and produce YouTube videos.  I want them to see themselves as creators of content rather than mere content consumers.  I think this is utterly empowering for them, and it’s fantastic to see some exciting & innovative research coming out of Lunsford’s study to validate these objectives!

Technology in the Developing World; ALA Annual Conference 2009

(presented by LITA)


Randy Ramusack, the United Nations Technology Officer for Microsoft Corporation (Research4Life), came to this ALA session to talk about Microsoft and “Creative Capitalism.”  The undisputed star of the show, however, was Matt Keller, who is the Director of Europe, Middle East & Africa, One Laptop Per Child program.

Although you might recognize OLPC for their cute little XO laptops that began the Netbook craze, Keller stressed that OLPC is an education program instead of a technology program.  Based in the U.S., OLPC is a non-profit organization that sets up and supports laptop-distribution programs in developing countries.  The programs are  then run by independent organizations (such as NGOs) in their home countries.  Continue reading

Tennesse Schools Unblock LGBTQ Websites

In May, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee filed suit against the Knox County and Metro Nashville school district for blocking lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer websites.  Two weeks later, on June 3rd, the school districts announced that they would stop filtering the websites of gay-friendly advocacy groups such as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).  You can read the full article about the decision here.

A lot of schools and libraries filter their Internet to block explicit sexual or violent content.  In fact, post Children’s Online Protection Act (COPA) / and Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) legislation, many public libraries are required to use Internet filtering software if they want to receive funding from the federal E-Rate program.

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