Things They Don’t Teach You in Library School: Teens & Technology

When I was in library school there were 2 buzzwords I got so sick of hearing that I still kind of shut down and mentally plug my ears every time I hear them. One of them I still hear just about every day, while the other seems to have disappeared. What are they?

Makerspace

Transliteracy

We all know about makerspaces. Some of us love them, some of us hate them, but they’re all different at every library, school, and community center.

The thing I want to talk about is transliteracy. According to my professors, transliteracy is the concept of using technology to improve the teaching of certain concepts and make them more relevant to today’s youth. As a result, a wealth of technology-based projects were inserted into my classes, particularly those dealing with youth media.

I never use any of the technology I used in those projects or classes. I don’t make podcasts. I don’t record training webinars or videos. I don’t make book talk videos, and my teens certainly don’t want to do that. Why is that? I know there are other librarians and programmers out there doing really cool digital projects with their teens.

My teens don’t want to use technology or digital media at the library.

They do it at school. They’re constantly in the computer lab, doing research and looking up media resources for their projects. They do this stuff for school, and they don’t want to do it for fun. What’s more, most of my kids are, quite frankly, too poor to own ipads, laptops, fancy headphones, or even smartphones with a data plan. Those digital tools needed for transliteracy projects are part of an education they’re frustrated about, or it’s something they can’t afford, and they don’t want that invading their chill library hangout time.

This makes it particularly difficult to program for Teen Tech Week, or to use my library’s Digi-Cart, our version of a makerspace. I’ve found that the kids really like interactive robots, like Cubelets and Sphero, but anything else won’t hold their interest long enough for a chat about it, let alone a whole program.

Now I would love to hear from you! What kind of digital projects work at your library? Which ones have flopped? What kind of technology are your teens interested in (besides Minecraft and the WiiU)? Share in the comments or on our Facebook page!

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