All things teen library

Reviews, notes and useful links...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Connected Generation 2010 #cgen10

I attended Connected Generation 2010 in Bristol on 7th May. The event focussed on using social media to reach young people where they are. The day included ideas on launching and developing digital and online projects with young people responsibly and safely.

We were welcomed by lollies and plenty of tech (the coolest mini handheld video cameras by busbi £35), to record short clips from the day and a macbook to update Twitter with our comments. This enabled all the participants to create an on-point online record of the day under the searchable hashtag #cgen10. I updated key points to add to the record.

The morning speakers were very inspiring and covered a range of issues. Amy Sample Ward from Social by Social talked about researching your projects to find out where young people are online and the aims of your work. The main points I took away were that young people need to be inspired to engage and be empowered by a social media project, engagement is not simply following but interacting, and you need to talk to them in their own language online. We need to work on ensuring the platform and content inspire the young people using libraries.

Jo Jopling gave a fantastic presentation on her youth work project in Gateshead, using msn chat and her professional Facebook page to reach 'at risk' young people. Jo has engaged 180 young contacts. To keep it safe there is a tag team member or line manager online for support. Young people have to ask to be added and parents are notified about the project, records are kept for evidence, as you would a youth work session and safety messages on the Facebook page give advice on safe use of social networking. Jo recommends you set guidelines - only experienced youth workers take part, as young people are fearless online. Online youth work is the most valuable tool Jo has ever used.

Mog aka Chris Morgan Outreach worker for GEECS communities 2.0 project uses digital storytelling as a tool for young people to have a dialogue about difficult situations in their lives. Mog says "stories are digital media tools". They develop skills such as creativity, photography, editing, production and DVD authoring. GEECS also work with SMS stories texted to an online message board. A tip is to make it relevant to young people, give them a voice through participation and inclusion. More about the project on their blog.

FInally Kieron Kirkland from Futurelab talked about supporting young people aged 14-19 to raise their aspirations. Futurelab have set up a site that enables young people to learn about their rights in their language, it is linked to Facebook and enables young people to network and vote on content. The site looks like a really useful resources for young people so we have set up a link on HeadSpace Efford's blog and added to the Plymouth Libraries children's cyberlibrary.

In the panel discussion the importance of protecting professional integrity and client privacy was highlighted, panelist Katie Bacon recommended a record sheet to log conversations and anonymous usernames to keep personal information confidential.

I attended presentations on Plings (places to go and things to do for young people) and social media policy and practice. I learned that we have a duty to collect and share information with young people in spite of the issues, a bored o meter app can be used on Facebook to guage young people's response to your page, you can ask young people to post info on their Facebook pages to increase your reach. We also have a responsibility to put together a relevant risk assessment in partnership with our partners which enables us to protect us as professionals and the young people when they access our pages. Katie Bacon recommends a secure site that only members can post on in confidence for youth work.

In our openspace session on Facebook I learned that it is easy to install a 'like' button on your site which will appear on young people's Facebook pages. However this does appear on other's homepages, and you need to put together a statement which makes young people aware of this. This can be used as an opportunity to educate young people about privacy.

My follow up for our library service as a result of Connected Generation 2010 will include:
1. Regularly maintaining existing social networking sites (our blog and Twitter) to make them fun and fresh
2. Involving young people more in the content of the site
3. Developing a safe use of social media policy for young people and staff, based on our own acceptable use policies and other safe use policies
4. Developing the use of Facebook as an online outreach point for young people to talk about books and other media, reserve items and get help with homework
5. Ask for some training to host digital storytelling workshops at HeadSpace sessions

Overall the conference was a great day, it was my first course around social media and even though I am already using the sites I learned a tremendous amount and would be keen to attend next year.

To quote Amy Sample Ward: "Start listening, start asking and start inviting. Try something."

Monday, 3 May 2010

Review - Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: August 2009

Pages: 217

The recent Carnegie shortlist and a visit from Marcus at one of our libraries motivated me to read Revolver. I have recommended his books to young people in the past because of the quality and beauty of his writing. This book was no different.

Revolver is set in the harsh climate of the arctic circle. The main character Sig, his sister Anna, Stepmother Nadya and father Einar live in a hut on the other side of a lake, near a mining town. The setting is isolated and bleak, but the picture of the family relationships painted in contrast, is one of love and warmth. Both his mother and stepmother are religious and his father is fascinated by a revolver pistol he keeps in their food store.

You join Sig on the day his father passes away whilst travelling home across the precarious ice covered lake on his sledge. When his sister and stepmother go to break the news of his father's death in the town, a frightening stranger from his father's past arrives making demands and it is up to Sig to deal with a fatal situation once and for all.

As a reader you find yourself immersed in the cold, hard nature of life in the arctic. I immediately empathised with Sig the 14 year old boy who has lost his father, and struggles to come to terms with the loss. The story skips back and forwards smoothly to Sig's childhood memories of his father, scenes in his parent's earlier life and back to the present day with the frightening stranger. Throughout the book you desperately want to find out what happens next. Clues are provided, but I rarely managed to make a link between them and the outcome of the story. I finished the book in a couple of hours.

Needless to say the events shape Sig's journey into adulthood and have a real impact on his and his family's life. A dramatic, emotive and thrilling tale, which draws you in and transports you to another place and time. Brilliant!