Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Tumblrs that Rock

I am obsessed with Tumblr.  Blame Robin.  Anyhow, as I see it, Tumblr (outside of Twitter, of course) is so easy to use and I love, love, love the way it handles graphics (which is where its bread and butter is).  So now I am all Tumblr obsessed.  Here are 5 Tumblrs to follow if you are new to the tumble.  If you are not new, share your favorites with me in the comments.  Feed my obsession.

And yes, for the record, every time I am on Tumblr I do in fact sing this song in my head . . .

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwb9-OlQimc]

Diversity in YA

Diversity in YA was originally founded as a blog in 2011 by Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo.  They moved to Tumblr in 2013.  Here, they talk about Diversity in YA, hence the title.  It is a great resource not only highlighting titles, but giving real strong evidence that shows how little diversity there currently is.

Teenager Posts

Teenager Posts takes a standard format – a color block with a simple text statement, similar to Bookfessions – and allows teens to express themselves.  Often sad, sometimes witty, sometimes full of cusswords, this is a way for teens 

YA Book Quotes

Exactly what it sounds like – quotes from YA books. Great for reblogging and sharing.

Fishing Boat Proceeds, aka John Green’s Tumblr

John Green is kind of king of the Internet in Geek World, and Tumblr is no different.  It’s obviously heavy on self-promotion, especially with TFIOS movie being filmed, but he is usually the first to take to the Internet and speak up about things with heartfelt intelligence.

Looking for things to make and do?  DIY Fashion has you covered.

Maureen Johnson Books

If John Green is the King of the Internet, one could argue that Maureen Johnson is the Queen.  She speaks passionately about things.  She rants.  She answers questions.  In a word, she is kind of awesome.

Go Book Yourself

This site is your basic “If You Like . . . Try This . . .” site with some visual finesse.  Take a book – say The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – and it will recommend 4 readlikes.  In this case it recommends Ask the Passengers by A. S. King, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  These are great for sharing, though not always YA.

An Oldie but a Goodie: Bookfessions

More Info: 8 Inspirational Blogs from Huffington Post Teen ; 10 Top Tech related Tumblrs

Geek is the New Black: GIF 101

See also: How my teens make stop motion movies using Legos and a Giffer app

Okay, technically they are not new.  They are just now mega popular.  So I asked Christie to ask That Guy (who is tech support), how do these things work?  Because like all new tech – at least new to you – there is a learning curve.  So I have been investigating and thought I would share because that is what I do.  See: Librarian, one who shares things.

First thing you need to know, it is pronounced “jif”.  Yes, like the peanut butter. I found this out the embarrassing way.  I will save you.

Second thing you need to know, it stands for Graphics Interchange Format. They are those moving picture thingies that you see around the web.

The Internet is GIFtacular

Although GIFs can be used any time and any place, Tumblr and Buzzfeed are the haven of GIFs.  They are also both sites that I am obsessed with because they make sharing easy and fun.  If you do not have a Tumblr, you should.  I like the way that Tumblr makes it easy to choose to share a quote, a website, a video or a picture.  And I love the way it handles pictures – quick, easy and stylish.

If I had to guess, I would say that the most popular GIFs tend to spring from Doctor Who, Supernatural, Sherlock, 80s movies, superhero movies, and Disney Princesses.  They are often used to convey emotion to punctuate what someone has just said.  For example, if you were talking about a book that made you cry and feel all the feels, you would add this:

crying gif photo: crying zoey crying.gif
From Photobucket

See, GIFs are fun.  You can find some at Reaction Gifs, Gif Bin and Gif Soup.  You can also find them at Photobucket, PicGifs, and Flickr.

There is info on how to use/add them to a post here.

How to Make Them

You can find a ready supply of GIFs on the Internet, but issues of copyright can be tricky.  Many believe they basically fall under the halo of “Fair Use”.  There is a good discussion about this issue here and here.  If you are worried about the Internet police coming after you, you can make your own.  There are tools and tutorials out there.  They include:

Find out more here

Make an animated GIF in Photoshop
GifBoom (app!)
Cinemagram (also an app!)
Gizmodo: How to Make a GIF in 5 Easy Steps
Free Online GIFmaker
Make a GIF
Mashable: Make Reaction GIFs with These 7 Tools
Mashable: How to Make GIFs
8 Free GIF Maker Apps

GIF are so popular there are even artists out there specializing in GIFs, and they are amazing.
YPulse: 3 Rising Artists of the Digital Age.

Which brings about a new way to get teens involved in the library: Have Them Make GIFs.  Have a contest. Ask the members on your TAB to create GIFs for you to share.  You don’t have to sit back and do all the marketing yourself, you can get teens involved.

Whatever you do – happy GIFfing!

More About GIFs
Mashable: The History of GIFs
What Journalists Need to Know About GIFs
5 Ways to Find Best Animated GIFs
YPulse: Why GIFs Become the Sweethearts of the Internet

Geek is the New Black: Low Tech Gaming in the Library

Karen talked earlier about the benefits of electronic gaming in the library; I’m not going to repeat her points- just go HERE.

However, there is a LOT to be said for low tech gaming as well. While some news outlets seem to think that today’s youth can’t be bothered with these types of games, I call bull. Otherwise, why do I have a line for the games at my library, and a ton of tweens and teens asking me to play games with them?

The low tech games (and to be specific I’m talking board and card games) that we have are all donated in one way or another, and are used CONSTANTLY. They fulfill a host of the 40 developmental assets, not to mention get them involved with each other and off a screen. They involve reading, comprehension, math, vocabulary, memory and strategy, all of which help to build on what we want for our tweens and teens.

Not enough? Then check out this TED talk by Stuart Brown:


National Gaming Day @ Your Library is November 16th
So what to do with board games? Well, you can have an open gaming day (I call them Low Tech Gaming Days) and have two or three games set up on tables around the room, and let participants play whatever they want to play. I usually have a movie playing as well so that those who want to be in the room but who don’t want to play can have something to do.

Or, have a day set aside for a specific game. Set up a Monopoly day, or contact the local Chess Club or the American Go foundation and see if they can come out and teach a class or three on the basics of those games. 

Talk to your local comic shop about when they have their set dates for the Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon tournament plays, and then set up “free play” days for those in your area that are interested on days/times that won’t conflict with your comic shop (you don’t want to draw from their customer base). All you need are clean tables, some six-sided (normal) dice, scratch paper, pencils, and a staff person in the room willing to listen. Make it clear there’s no trading cards or playing for cards- that’s all for fun.

What games work in a library setting? Well, what do you have? Currently, these are my top games of interest:



Apples to Apples




Which ones work for you? Share in the comments.
More on Board Games:

Geek is the New Black: Benefits of Electronic Gaming in the Library, a defense

Recently, I was asked about gaming in libraries.  Specifically online gaming, but much of this same information can be applied to video gaming in libraries as well. Ironically, CNN recently ran an article RE video gaming in libraries, which came across as largely pro.  In our 21st century world, I think that being pro gaming is the way to be. Yes, even for libraries.

In a previous position, I ran an after school program designed to meet the needs of the teens in that community.  It was hugely popular, averaging 50 to 70 teens every Tuesday for about the entire 10 years that I was there, and video gaming was a huge part of that.  At the same time, there would be teens reading, teens talking, and, yes, teens sitting across from each other at a table texting each other.  Because we are living in a 21st century world and our teens are PLUGGED IN.  We could certainly make the argument that they should be plugged in less, but as a library we do a disservice if we ignore this aspect of who we serve because of our personal beliefs.  We are not their parents, we are their librarians and our job is to help them gain access to the resources they need to navigate 21st century information.  Plus, you can always balance your plugged in programming with unplugged programming.  The trick is not to ignore one in favor of the other.

In a time where more and more information is moving to a technology based environment, an increasing number of kids are learning that they suffer from what is known as the “Technology Gap” or the “Digital Divide”.  Children and teens growing up in low income homes do not have the same access to technology as their more affluent peers and they suffer from this lack of access.  The topic is of such high educational importance that the PEW project often does research on the Digital Divide (see it here) and many cities discuss ways to bring broadband access to the state, as well as free wireless access.

Part of the problem we see is that many of those people in positions of power and decision making are not people who are living in the digital divide, so it is easy to become distanced from it and fail to recognize it.  However, those of us working hands on day to day in the schools and at the public service desks of public libraries are reminded on a daily basis how vast that divide can actually be.  We work with people every day who don’t have access to technology that we think of people as having.
Although the Internet can be used in many ways, a popular way among children and teens (and many adults to be honest) is through online gaming.  Although it is easy to dismiss gaming as a superfluous activity, the truth of the matter is that there are a great number of education benefits that come from engaging in gaming.  Yes, gaming has educational value.  It did when we were playing chess and checkers and Monopoly and Life.  And it does when we play online as well.

Computer Literacy 

Literacy in today’s age goes beyond just the basic ability to read and write.  There is, in fact, a new type of literacy that is termed computer or digital literacy.  The ability to navigate and adapt to current and unfolding technologies is a basic life skill for our emerging youth.  Gaming helps them adopt basic tech skills in a fun way that engages them.  In fact, if you teach a beginning Internet class one of the exercises often given to participants is to play Solitaire to get better at manipulating the mouse.  Just as young children learn a variety of basic skills through random, unstructured play, so can our youth learn a variety of computer literacy skills through online play.

Multiplatform Storytelling (Basic Literacy Skills) 

A large amount of online gaming involves basic storytelling.  Heroes go on a quest, basic tasks are given, etc.  Along the way, participants have to read prompts, engage in the story, and help determine the story’s outcome.  In many ways, video gaming is simply another form of storytelling, albeit a more active one.  In fact, it is an online “Choose Your Own Adventure” story that you, the participant, is helping to write. 

Take, for example, the concept of transmedia – Transmedia storytelling (also known as transmedia narrative or multi platform storytelling) is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. It is not to be confused with traditional cross-platform media franchises,[1] sequels or adaptations. (Don’t hate on me, but this is the Wikipedia definition.)

Many of the items we purchase in our collection now include a transmedia approach.  This means that there are a variety of online activities, including games, that young readers are invited to jump online and do to enhance the story.  Examples of this include the BZRK series by Michael Grant and The 39 Clues by multiple authors.   The very items in our collections are instructing our readers to jump online and engage in the story in a more hands on way.  A customer would be pretty unsatisfied to go to a store and buy a printer but not be able to buy their printer paper there, so it would also be pretty annoying for our patrons to check out and read a book that directed them to go online for additional experiences and be told the very library they checked the book out from doesn’t permit that. 

21st Century Education

21st century has an emphasis on STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math).  This means that young students need to be adept and knowledgeable at interacting with technology and be continually aware of the rapidly changing landscape of the technology world.  In addition, these new skills require a different type of learning, of information access and processing skills, and these skills can arguably only be acquired through frequent interaction with the online world. 

Coding (see Minecraft

One of the primary 21st century skills that STEM education emphasizes is coding.  It is believed that all students today need to learn some basic coding.  Minecraft is a game that was designed to help teach kids coding in a fun, game like environment.  Minecraft is just one example of this type of gaming, but it is currently the most popular.  In fact, many libraries now have Minecraft parties as a regularly occurring program because of the social and educational benefits. 

See also, Why Everyone Should Learn to Code: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/03/29/codecademy_hacker_school_why_everyone_should_learn_to_code.html 
See also these References from YALSA: http://yalsa.ala.org/blog/2013/04/04/connect-create-collaboratecraft-a-teen-tech-week-post-mortem-minecraft-in-the-library/, http://www.questia.com/library/1G1-317588244/minecraft-programs-in-the-library-if-you-build-it 

Lateral Thinking, Creativity, Innovation (STEM Education) 

Video gaming puts kids and teens in a variety of scenarios where they have to think creatively, problem solve, innovate, lateral thinking and more.  These are all 12st century education goals.  They are, in fact, some of the same benefits that we get from reading, but gaming addresses this in a 21st century way and it does so while engaging in a different type of learning environment/strategy.  There is more than one way to learn, and each way is more effective for different people; by allowing access to gaming, we widen our education net to meet the needs of those with learning disabilities of various types and allowing them to engage in the educational format that works best for them, as opposed to more traditional formats. 

Lateral Thinking Definition: Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. (Edward de Bono) 

Physical Benefits That Impact Learning and Basic Literacy 

Video gaming increases some basic skills such as hand/eye coordination.  These are all skills that are also important to the basic ability to read.  Thus, gaming in the library reinforces many skills that help our youth become better readers and information processors.  That seems to fall under our basic mission.  For another example of the physical benefits of electronic gaming, see Video Games Promote Cognitive Flexibility.

Patron (Customer) Satisfaction and Retention 

Part of remaining vital and relevant not only today but in the future is to communicate to your patrons that you value them and that you have the resources they need to be successful in their formal and informal education.  You cannot alienate a generation of library users by denying them access to a key component of their technology needs and expect them to later come back and find the library both viable and relevant.  By eliminating gaming in the library we will communicate to today’s youth that we do not have what they need and want, that we are not a relevant community resource, and we will be hard pressed to convince them otherwise at some later date.   

Supporting General Education 

A basic part of much classroom education today is supplemented by online games.  In fact, there are entire curriculums such as Study Island that students are assigned and are asked to access outside of the classroom.  These activities involve a variety of math, language and science based games that reinforce things discussed in the classroom.  My tween daughter is instructed by her teacher to log in and participate in a group of games called Study Island, and it tracks her progress.  Her teacher sends me emails reminding me that my daughter is supposed to do this.  We are lucky, we have a basic laptop and Wifi access at home, but not all students do, which is where the public library comes in.

New Days, New Ways.  Different is Not Always Bad, It’s Just Different

Recently, when asked to speak at a staff training event, I was talking about teens and reading when a hand went up in the air: “But teens don’t really read anymore”, this staff member said.  The truth is, teens do read.  Some of them, many of them, even still read traditional books.  But as our world changes, so must our ideas of how we define reading.  You just sat here and read this blog post, you were reading.  Not a book, but still reading.  Teens read, and a lot of them are doing it in new ways provided by technology – including inside of the games that they play.  In order for libraries to remain relevant, we have to understand the patrons that we serve and be able to meet their needs.  We have to adapt.  This means that we have to acknowledge that teens may be reading in different ways, but that they are still reading.  And teens may be learning in different ways, but they are still learning.  The question is, do we want to continue to be a part of their education?  If the answer is yes, then we must find ways to incorporate electronic gaming in libraries.

Additional Thoughts and Resources RE Gaming and Education:
20 Benefits of Video Games: http://www.trendhunter.com/course/gaming-speech
The Educational Benefits of Video Games: http://sheu.org.uk/sites/sheu.org.uk/files/imagepicker/1/eh203mg.pdf
Hidden Benefits of Video Games: http://www.drcherylolson.com/hidden-benefits-of-videogames/
Video Games Help Reading in Children With Dyslexia: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21619592
New Study Finds that Gaming Helps Children Learn Ethical Decision Making: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21619592
Study Finds Playing Video Games Helps You Process Images Faster: http://www.geekosystem.com/visual-stimulus-gamers/
The Benefits of Video Games: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2011/12/the-benefits-of-video-games/
When Gaming is Good for You: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203458604577263273943183932.html
The Brain 101: http://www.positscience.com/brain-resources/brain-facts-myths/brain-101
Video Games Promote Cognitive Flexibility: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/24/video-games-brain-starcraft-cognitive-flexibility_n_3790610.html

Additional Thoughts and Resources RE Gaming in Libraries:
The Librarian’s Guide to Gaming: http://librarygamingtoolkit.org/
Video Games and Libraries are a Good Mix: http://venturebeat.com/2013/01/18/video-games-and-libraries-are-a-good-mix-say-librarians/
Video Gaming in Libraries 101: http://www.slideshare.net/JustinTheLibrarian/video-gaming-inlibraries101
At Libraries Across America, It’s Game On: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/11/209584333/at-libraries-across-america-its-game-on
Beck, John C and Mitchell Wade. Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever. Harvard Business School Press, 2004.
Gee, James Paul. Good Video Games + Good Learning : Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy. P. Lang, c2007.
Gee, James Paul. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Palgrave McMillan, 2003.
Johnson, Steven. Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today’s Pop Culture is Making Us Smarter. Riverhead, 2005.
Nicholson, Scott. Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages. Information Today, 2010.
Neiburger, Eli. Gamers … in the Library?! : The Why, What, and How of Videogame Tournaments for All Ages. American Library Association, 2007.
Prensky, Marc. Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning. Paragon House, 2006.
Salen, Katie. The Ecology of Games : Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. MIT Press, 2008. Forthcoming
Selfe, Cynthia L. and Gail E. Hawisher. Gaming Lives in the Twenty-First Century : Literate Connections. Palgrave, 2007.
Vorderer, Peter and Jennings Bryant, eds. Playing Video Games : Motives, Responses, and Consequences. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006.
“A Revolution in Library Service: Gaming is More Than Just a Lure into the Library” by Kelly Czarnecki. School Library Journal, May 2007, p34.
“All Thumbs Isn’t a Bad Thing: Video Game Programs @ your library” by Beth Saxton. Young Adult Library Services, Winter 2007.
“From Platforms to Books? I’m Game” by Rollie Welch. Young Adult Library Services, Winter 2008.
“Gaming and Libraries: Intersection of Services” by Jenny Levine Library Technology Reports Sep/Oct 2006, vol. 42., n. 5
“Gaming Advocacy: New Ways Librarians Can Support Learning and Literacy” by Kit Ward-Crixell. School Library Journal, September 2007.
“Why Gaming?” Library Technology Reports, September/October 2006, p10.

Additional Resources and Thoughts RE The Digital Divide:
7 Myths of the Digital Divide: http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2013/04/26/7-myths-of-the-digital-divide/
The Digital Divide is Still Leaving Americans Behind: http://mashable.com/2013/08/18/digital-divide/?utm_cid=mash-prod-email-topstories
The Digital Divide and Its Impact on Academic Performance: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/WRC08034.pdf
Digital Divide: Bridging the Gap: http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/digitaldivide/
Education World: Caught in the Digital Divide: http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech041.shtml

Take 5: 5 Awesome YouTube Videos from Geek Week 2013

I have owned my geekness for a while now. If you take a look at my office, I have Star Trek Spock next to a Dalek and a Firefly keychain. It definitely comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me. However, YouTube is celebrating *EVERYTHING* geeky this week with their GEEK WEEK 2013. I’ve pulled together 5 of my favorite clips from the offerings. Take a look after the break.

Today, Wednesday, is a celebration of all things “Super” on the YouTube Geek Week channel. They’re talking superheroes, supernatural, and more.  And Stan the Man (Stan Lee) is showing up.  These are some great things to share with your tweens and teens via your social media.  Or have a viewing party.  Or, better yet, put together your own Geek Con and have a geektacular party.  Want to host a con? See Geek out your library.  You can also look at these wondrous video moments and see if you can get your teens creating.

5 Spectacular Moments of Geeky Glory from YouTube Geek Week 2013

Knightmare TV Show Remake (which is taped in part on the set of the TARDIS from Doctor Who)

  [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74r-EbIqt9s?rel=0]

 Star Wars vs Star Trek Street Fight 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poNEN3jJUqI?rel=0]

Giant RoboMech Meets Stan Lee

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3I5SPeBEjxg]

 Breaking Bad: The Middle School Musical 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nWjNgV_6yc?rel=0]

Anime Doctor Who

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TySLmj2ZWIo]

What awesome geekness have you found?

Tech Talk

Technology is a HUGE part of what we do everyday.  Whether we are helping our teens use technology, using technology to connect with our teens, or trying to put together teen programs – there is no escaping it, and no escaping how often it changes.  Since we write about it, I thought we would make it easy for you to find it all in one place – HERE!  After all, geek is the new black.
Apptastic Marketing

Social Media 101
Relational Reading Revolution: Using social media to connecting readers with authors
The Beginners Guide to the Hashtag
Harness the Power of the Hashtag 
A Scientific Guide to the Best Times to Tweet, FB, Blog, etc. 
The Science of Social Timing 
Executing Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
6 Steps to Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan 
Examples of People Using Social MediaWell:

Ongoing changing in policies are causing some users to defect, less popular now, teens are defecting, can now use Hashtags



26 Ways to Market with Tumblr
5 Things You Can Do with Tumblr:




A Defense of Online Gaming in Libraries 
TPIB: When Books Inspire Art (Using Apps to Create Book/Library Related Art)
Teens, Tech and Programming 
The Relational Reading Revolution Revisited: Using social media to connect teens w/authors and get them invested in the reading community
Hosting a Coding Club

Gif Making

www.slashgear.com – tech news
www.buzzfeed.com – great example of content; find content to share
www.mashable.comfave info resource
www.hypable.com – sharable content
www.ypulse.com – news about teens & millenials
www.socialmediatoday.com – all about social media

Marketing with Apps Presentation Outline
TLA Relational Reading Revolution Presentation

Geek Out Your LIbrary

Geek (n.) – a person with enthusiastic interest in a particular interest or devotion.  Typically technology, science fiction and fantasy, comic books, etc.

Urban dictionary defines Geek as: The person you make fun of in high school and wind up working for as an adult.

Right now, geek is cool.  This past weekend was a Comic Con extravaganza with the cast of popular movies and tv shows present.  This year alone there are Thor, Captain America, and The Green Lantern movies.  This weekend we will see the release of Cowboys vs. Aliens.  And of course there are HP and Twilight movies, can’t forget them.

So this is a great time for teen librarians to embrace their geek coolness and geek out your library.

How, exactly, does one “geek out” their library and get their geek on?

Get out your graphic novels and manga and put them on display

Create your own creative and geeky comic book style fliers for programs, services or materials
     Do you use Photoshop?  Here are 20 photoshop effects
     Don’t have Photoschop?  Download GIMP, it’s free.  Here are some GIMP tutorials.
     Have an iPhone?  There’s an app for that.

Created with the iPhone app

Share fun tools with teens to create their own comic strips
     Comic Strip Creator
     Captain Underpants Comic Creator

Share information about comics, graphic novels and manga

Geek out your webpage.  Entertainment Weekly has done a fabulous job of creating the whole package on their website, follow their lead.

Get someone in to do a drawing workshop

You know your teens that come in and are doodlers, get them to let you share their work on your website or FB page.

Send out a poll, reviews, and discussion questions on your FB page or website about their favorite books, movies and tv shows.  Think Twilight trailers, magazine article links, and more.

Create a fun, interactive contest: drawing contest, create your own comic, give this picture a caption

Lots of popular teen fiction titles are also being released as gns, put the two together
     Some titles include Alex Rider series, Artemis Fowl, Daniel X, Maximum Ride, Twilight,     
    Vampire’s Assistant and Vampire Kisses

Host your own Mini Con!
Invite your teens to come in dressed in their favorite cosplay.  Set up displays, panels, games and other events throughout the day.  You can include any of the above as part of your Con.  Bust out your video game console – and board games, there are lots of awesome board/card games that would work.