Saturday, October 27, 2007

Reader's Advisory & Teens

It takes a lot for a teen to approach a librarian and ask for a recommendation, and you have to make the most of your window of opportunity. (I just attended a Teen/Tween Reader's Advisory workshop yesterday, and this point was reiterated over and over again.) They become frustrated or discouraged faster than younger children and will more often than an adult mumble, "forget it" and go look for something themselves.

A delicate topic can be even worse. The kids want the information quickly and discreetly. Teens who love realistic fiction are often "trying out" the topic as it applies to their own lives, so it's important to have what they need. Fiction quickly becomes dated, and nonfiction is often too preachy, too babyish, or not comprehensive enough.

With a Teen collection, it's much easier for me to keep on top of my titles and know suggestions off the top of my head than it would be if I were in charge of, say, an Easy Fiction collection. My Teen collection, though larger than many, is relatively small. But I do find it a challenge to keep current on certain genres - fantasy and science fiction, in particular - and I don't just get asked questions about Teen books. I work at the Children's Desk, and I get questions about everything from board books for babies to teen romance novels. Keeping up with it all is a little daunting.

I do use a lot of the resources like Novelist, but my favorite "cheat" is I use both the Listmania and the Suggested Purchases features on that site to fins books to recommend to kids. I'm in the process of working on two projects specifically for teens: one is the Teen Topics Resources (which is my LATI project and which I will go into greater detail about another time) and one is a series of TAC-generated booklists with genres that kids respond to (not just "mystery" or "historical fiction" but more like Listmania: "Coolest Vampire Books" or "Best Love Stories." I'm hoping those will help to fill the gap for our teen services.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

My Geek Chic

So as one of my LATI assignments (I'm cleaning up "holes" in my work this weekend) I had to take a quiz to test my "Geek Chic."

I pretty much could have told anyone, without spending 2 minutes of my life on a quiz, that I have none. Or none of the technological variety. My geekdom is strictly literary geekdom, not tech geekdom. So it was absolutely no surprise to me to discover that my score was 20, which = "stuck in the last century."

If you've read my "oh, poor me" posts from before about my tenuous relationship with technology, then you know what a lost cause I am. But that's ok. I accept the fact that when this is all over with, I'll know more but use the same. And that's fine with me.

When I was listening to the podcast, I heard the magic question I want to ask myself: "How do you manage all that information?" (This is a recurring theme in my battle with technology. I can barely manage a set of car keys, a plant, and a child. More than that is really asking a lot.) I'm looking forward to someone who uses this stuff showing me its value for me. I think that's really the bottom line.

The Technerati Tour was interesting, and it sort of made sense to me. I mean, I have a LibraryThing account, and I use tags for it, so I'm familiar with the concept of tagging - I just don't really use it. I mean, I review all my books there and tag them, but I don't search those tags to see what other people read. Maybe I should. In fact, maybe I'll make that my project this week, to search LibraryThing for one of my own tags and see what I come up with. It's a start, I suppose.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

23 Things in 23 Months

...or so it is starting to feel!

This my own fault for overextending. I am a chronic overextender, because:

a) I am highly distractable, and when something new comes along I want to try it/volunteer for it/be a part of it.

b) I am terrible at time management. And anything else organization-oriented. (If I ran the world, there would be no clocks and we'd all just do our own thing whenever. Yeah. Imagine THAT chaos! Thank goodness there are organized folks out there to keep people like me under control.)

c) I just can't say no. And don't want to say no.

So here it is, September, and I am just now revisiting 23 Things. This time I am supposed to be reflecting on technology, so here goes.

I did the trading card thing, by the way. Christy had actually showed it to me quite some time ago, and I never got around to looking at it. (The thoughts go in, and then...there they go, right back out!) I thought it was pretty cool. If I were still teaching middle school, I'd definitely use it with my students. They could do all sorts of stuff with it. My Teen Advisory Council kids might want to know about it just because - maybe I could even do something with it for Banned Books Week or Teen Read Week. (Hmm...there's a thought, actually!)

I love Flickr, because I love to take pictures and fool around with them later. I don't claim to be any good at it, but I always have a camera with me just in case. So that's technology that actually helps me. Other things just seem to me like kind of a waste of time. Or maybe I just need a life coach or someone with a strong sense of organization to help me incorporate some of this stuff into my regular life. I mean, RSS feeds? Great idea, but that's just one more login that I have to struggle to remember, and then I have to remember to check it (which I don't), and then I have 20 million things on there because I can't commit to just 5 or even 10 when I'm browsing, when in actuality I won't even log into the darn thing in the first place. Blogging? Not really; I don't have time. I don't even blog on my MySpace account, and I've had that for over a year. Heck, I don't even blog on the Teen Space MySpace, and I'm on that every day!

Honestly, it's about all I can do to stay on a computer long enough to check my 3 e-mail accounts and both my work & personal MySpace accounts. I think that's my limit. Because I am so easily distracted, the Internet is a very dangerous place for me, and I choose to just abstain. I think it's better for all of us if I don't get in there and play too much. Seriously.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A few words about technology...

Yeah, it's not going to be a FEW words. (Best way to ensure that no one reads it!) I have an interesting relationship with technology. I suppose the best way to explain it is that it doesn't occur to me how I can use it efficiently.

Now, I'm not totally lame. I use a lot more technology than a lot of people my own age (but not as much as most of the people just a few years younger than me - Michele Gorman informed us at MLA that there is a "cutoff age," and as I am well above it, I consider myself to be doing pretty well for myself, because apparently, technology-wise, 33 might as well be 83!)

I make lists - on paper.

I don't carry my cell phone on my actual person - just in my purse. And, no, I don't do anything with it besides call or text people with it. Okay, I take some photos, but I hate the camera on there (it sucks), so mostly I don't. Some people might want to be wired all the time, but I don't. If I can avoid checking my e-mail after 5pm, trust me, I'm going to avoid it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

7 1/2

I like the 7 1/2 habits of highly successful learners, especially considering there's a 1/2 habit, which I can totally get behind, because I figured it would be the one habit I could master. (The good thing about my brain is that I can entertain a million thoughts at once, but the bad thing is that about three of those thoughts are ever completed. So I was really psyched about that 1/2 habit!)

We were supposed to see which habit is hardest for us and which is easiest, which is like a little quiz for me, so I read through everything first. (No surprise, I am a master at that 1/2 habit!) I had a hard time deciding between Habit #1 and Habit #6 as my biggest challenges.

Habit #1, "Begin with the end in mind," is often difficult for me. I mean, I always have some of the end result, but usually I need to flub my way through things a bit before I can get a better sense of what I do and don't want/need. Yes, I am the person who says, "Let's just go for it," and then figures out all the ways in which I want to change it later. That works for me, but it's not very efficient. I wish I could get a clearer vision ahead of time. It would really save me a lot of time & energy.

Habit #6, "Use technology to your advantage," is hard for me, too. I mean, don;t get me wrong - I love technology. I love gadgets and I can quickly figure out how to play with things. But I guess I'm not in the habit of relying on them. For example, I bought a Palm Pilot three years ago. (Well, a Dell knockoff...same thing.) Anyhow, I bought this thing, and I was psyched. I'm a freaky list maker, and little pieces of paper are my best friend. I thought, I'll get the Palm & make the little scraps disappear. Save a tiger. Whatever. But then I could never remember to charge the dumb thing. And because I would forget to sync it, I'd drain down the battery and wipe out all my info all the time. Then it sat in my kitchen collecting dust for a year. Finally, I gave it to my brother, only know I've lost my software, so he can't sync it, either, and he would actually do that. So he pretty much hates me. And all along I was just proud that I didn't lose the stylus!!! Ah, well. Do you see my problem? I'm just not hard-wired to integrate technology into my life that much. The bottom line is, I'm a paper & pencil kind of girl. I'll visit your desk rather than shoot you an e-mail. But I'm growing. I've had a cell phone for 6 years and I've just started texting last month! Progress, don't you think?

All the other habits come pretty naturally to me, but I suppose the easiest one (besides 7 1/2) is Habit #5, "Create your own learning toolbox." I usually have people in my toolbox (no, I'm not calling you guys tools), but I also have books. Mostly I learn from listening to and watching other people, and I don't care who those people are. I have learned from kids and adults and some pretty unlikely characters. So that comes most easily for me.

I'm not sure about the Learning Contract, though. Maybe it's the word "contract" that bugs me. It sounds like such an obligation. Ugh!