Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Webinar: Makerspace at Cleveland Public Library


Rebecca and John sat in on a presentation about the "TechCentral" computer lab/makerspace/tech toy box at the Cleveland Public Library.

Here are the highlights:

Tech Central is really 2 spaces in the library: as you enter, you are greeted by a 70" display and the "tech toy box" -- a petting zoo of mobile devices that can also be checked out.

Turn to the left and you enter a flexible learning space, complete with laptop bar, group work tables, a smartboard, and projector (this is where they hold classes and events).

Turn to the right and you are in the computer area. All the public computers in the library have been brought into one space. They have 80 Windows computer, 5 Macs, and 5 Ubuntu (LINUX) computers. Applications installed include Office, Audacity (sound editing), GIMP (image creation), iLife (on the Macs: GarageBand, iMovie, etc.), and OpenShot (video editor). They also have power outlets galore for people who bring their own device.

Staff at TechCentral wear orange "lab coats" so they are easily identifiable. The staff are tech-savvy and also serve as instructors for classes and one-on-one help. (Customers can "check out" an assistant for an hour at a time.)

An intriguing service that TechCentral offers is "myCloud." With this service, customers can check out a laptop and save stuff to their own account on the library's servers. These are set up as virtual desktops, so customers get the full Windows computer experience (the ability to customize, save, and install software applications) without needing their own computer.  (It should be noted that this is the only service of TechCentral that requires customers to take an introductory class before they can use it.)

The makerspace aspect of TechCentral includes "maker kits" that can be checked out. These include products for building simple machines and circuits or music (Little Bits, K'NEX, Korg Monotrons and Snap Circuits).  Using myCloud, library staff and customers can install and use software to which they would not normally have access.

They market this space to 20-30 yr olds, and the 12 Tech Central staff also teach classes and bring mobile aspects of Tech Central (like the toy boxes) to the branches. Upcoming programming includes making your own holiday cookie cutters with the 3-d printer. 

Coming soon to Tech Central: dedicated music productions stations, computers for audio-visual and videogame creation, micro-bug building, and laser cutters.

TechCentral web page on the Cleveland Public Library website: http://www.cpl.org/TheLibrary/SubjectsCollections/TechCentral.aspx

- John L. and Rebecca R.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to Host An Anime Club

Note: many of these tips are not just useful for anime and manga clubs, but for teen clubs in general.

On Thursday, November 8, Andrea H. and Peter B. attended an Anime Club Facilitator Training session at the Ridgedale Library, presented by the Anime and Manga Leadership Team at Hennepin County Library. The training covered a range of topics from how to start up an anime club and anime–related activities to working with teens on the autistic spectrum. HCL's Anime and Manga Leadership Team members are: Alicia A., Katherine D., Jan D., Joanna R. and Stephanie W.

Why should the library host teen anime clubs?

  • It ties in with the anime, manga and related materials in our collection
  • Anime culture is very enthusiastic--enthusiasm is the key to successful teen programming
  • It’s a fun way for teens to learn about leadership
  • Anime fandom is almost freakishly diverse--teens of different ages, ethnicities, class, genders, and abilities will hang out together

Hennepin County Public Library staff have found that word of mouth and personal invitations work best when starting a club. Flyers, websites, and contacting schools with anime clubs also work, but not as well.

They recommend starting with an interest meeting (don’t forget the free snacks), then building on that. It takes 6-12 months to get a club off the ground.

Hennepin County teen anime clubs are for grades 6-12. Since anime fans are getting older, they have recently started an adult anime club.

The anime club space should be flexible to work with a variety of activities. There should be tables for crafts and comfy chairs for DVD viewing. A screen or at least a clean white wall is a must, along with a DVD player or laptop and speakers.

Decorations make the space special. Teens can help hang wall scrolls, posters, string lights and paper lanterns.

A clock is necessary to keep everyone on track. Have a code of conduct & hang it on the wall. Let the teens collaborate on rules, and they will be more likely follow them and even self-regulate. Don’t forget emergency supplies like tissues, a first-aid kit, and a fire extinguisher just in case.

If you put out some white kraft paper and crayons/pens/markers, teens will start drawing. The resulting artwork can double as decoration. Whiteboards and dry erase makers are handy for games.

Snacks are very important. Hennepin staff usually serve a combination of healthy options and Japanese treats, which can be purchased at United Noodles or Cost Plus World Market for a reasonable price.

Other things that cost money:

  • Games and craft supplies
  • Prizes
  • Staff time
  • Bowls, dishes, etc. for snacks
  • Licenses to show anime

Libraries have to pay for public performance rights to show videos to a group. Hennepin County, like St. Paul, purchases rights to multiple titles through Movie Licensing USA. However, they find their selection of anime lacking and sometimes contact the license holders directly. Fees are usually about $75-100.

A physical DVD is not necessary for public performance rights. The following sites have streaming anime:

If an anime is rated TV -PG or TV-14, they are usually OK for 12-18 year olds. Anime News Network is a good site for reviews. Once you get to know the older teens, you can ask them for recommendations. They can be quite protective of the younger members.

Possible anime club activities:

  • Anime live chess
  • Name that anime soundtrack tune
  • Karaoke
  • Board games-Clue, Chutes and Ladders, etc. altered to fit anime themes
  • Create your own bento boxes
  • Make your own cat ears
  • Chopstick pickup relay race
  • Anime jeopardy
  • Iron Cosplay -- whoever makes the best costume from a selection of random stuff wins a prize
  • Anime Prom
  • A party to celebrate the Japanese lantern festival or O-Bon (sometimes called “Japanese Halloween”)
  • DVD summit-- teens help pick DVDs for library
  • Discussion of different genres of manga
Finally, give yourself time to reflect  and decide what worked and what didn’t. Staff have to be flexible and give teens input in the club’s direction. At the end of the year, put up some kraft paper and have teens write what they thought was the best part of the anime club.


Christopher Kokal and Carrie Swyter from the Minnesota Autism Center gave a short but informative talk on working with teens on the autism spectrum.  I would recommend these speakers for a Customer Service Improvement Day presentation.

Anime clubs are a good way for autistic teens to learn socialization skills. Structure, visual cues (clocks, printed agendas), warning times for completion of tasks, and tandem games can keep them on task and working well with neurotypical teens.

Supplementary Materials:

Anime Club Presentation

How to Request Screening Permissions for Anime

List of Popular Anime

If you are interested in being part of an anime club team at our library, please contact andrea.herman [at] ci.spaul.mn.us

--Andrea H.@Central & Peter B. @Dayton’s Bluff

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Monstrositeen Mini-conference @MLA 2012

MLA 2012 was the setting for Monstrositeen, a mini-conference all about teens and libraries. Monstrositeen featured a Teen Spot with easy, cheap craft ideas like duct-tape bracelets and Shrinky Dinks; board games like Zombie Dice, Give Me the Brain and Poo the Card Game; and Dance Central 2, a Kinect dance game that requires neither a pad nor a controller.

Teen Technology at the Public Library

Our own Marika Staloch and Debbie Willms, along with Kathy Korum from the St. Paul Parks Department and Marcus Lowry and Amy Boese from Ramsey County Library, discussed teens and technology at the library.

They stressed the importance of libraries collaborating with partners such as parks, public schools, public television, public access television, the Science Museum, the History Center, and the University of Minnesota. The new Payne-Maryland branch will be jointly run by the library and parks department.

Things learned from their experiences and those of other libraries like Youmedia in Chicago:

  • Kids who don't have technology have a disadvantage
  • Don't wait for kids to sign up for something --teens don't always know what they want to do
  • Strong relationships & trust is key
  • Ask teens what they want

  • The entire staff has to be welcoming -- staff as mentors-- 2 hours a week at programs isn't enough
  • Kids want to create & share

SPPL has a mobile lab with iPads & laptops- teens love just hanging out with them for an hour. This goes along with the HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, and geeking out) concept conceived by Mizuko Ito.

Ramsey County Library has been working with their CTEPs to help teens create with free software, Flip cameras, and a 3-D printer.

Software they use:

Programs they have created:

  • Teen tech summer camp
  • Video boot camp-- CCTV brings all the equipment -- once they have completed training, teens can come to their studio whenever they want
  • National artists doing programs in schools & then teen art shown in library
  • Outreach to homeless and incarcerated teens

Issues with technology:

  • Cutting edge tech sometimes fails
  • IT department doesn't allow downloads-- staff has to get permission for new software
  • Free software is great, but sometimes it is no longer being updated/has no technical support

[un]Writing the Stereotype: Choosing Books for Young African-American Readers

People crave communitas -- a sense of comradeship among equals. Teens, being in a limnial stage (not one thing or the other), crave this feeling the most. Yolanda Hare, the presenter, couldn’t find young adult books she could relate to as a teen. African-Americans are not a homogenous population, but African -American young adult novels tend to only show black teens in one way. African-American characters are also more likely to embody some social issue, which does not make for a compelling character readers can relate to. Middle-class
African-Americans often cannot find any books depicting their experiences.

Luckily, there are more young adult authors today who reflect the diversity of the African-American experience, such as Sherri Winston, Dana Davidson, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Teens Know Best

Teens Know Best is a program started by Adela Peskorz at Metro State and continued by our own Marika Staloch. Teens meet monthly to read advanced reader copies of young adult novels. and write reviews. They get to meet authors and help design book covers.

The teens talked about some of their favorite new books. I am checking out Graceling (super-powered mutants in a medieval fantasy setting) and Black City (a post-apocalyptic Romeo & Juliet with vampires) on their advice. They discussed the current trend, post-apocalyptic settings such as in The Hunger Games. The next trend they predict--evil mermaids! (you heard it here first, folks!)

Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain

This talk was presented by Erin Walsh of Mind Positive Parenting, which was founded by Dr. David Walsh.

It is important to remember, when discussing the adolescent brain, that out of the 100 billion neurons we are born with, only 17%  are hard-wired. Each growth spurt of the body represents a window of opportunity for learning. Whatever the brain does a lot of, it gets better at. What it doesn’t do --not so much. Think of how hard it is to learn a new language as an adult versus as a child. The experiences people have during growth spurts have greatest impact.

We now know the brain continues to develop through the mid-20s. The prefrontal cortex goes through a great spurt in the  teen years - the area responsible for impulse control, risk-taking (negative & positive), and organization. This is why teens have to pay a lot for car insurance. 

Testosterone  increases by 1000% in all genders, affecting competitiveness and arousal of all kinds. The amygdala--the part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response--is lighting up like the Fourth of July. The menstrual cycle also causes serotonin to go up & down wildly. Problems feel insurmountable. A good way to describe the adolescent brain: “Gas pedal to the floor, brakes are on backorder”.  

Common approaches to dealing with teens:

  • Lockdown approach -- treat teens as risks to be managed--keep them controlled
  • Fly away approach - tell them to go away until they're 25--don't even try
  • “Free pass” approach--they can’t help themselves, so let them make mistakes with no consequences

These approaches are not helpful. Teens have to learn to use their prefrontal cortex, so we adults have to teach them. They will test the limits, and we have to tell them how far they can go.

Tips for dealing with teens:

  • Support, but don't coddle or rescue
  • Show them consistent limits and consequences
  • Show them what respect looks like
  • Listen to them
  • If they are all amped up, you may have to wait a few moments for their brain to catch up
  • Channel risk-taking positively
  • Make sure they feel heard
  • Don't leave it up to them to figure out how you feel-- their brain chemistry makes them much more likely to read any reaction as an angry one
  • Stick to one topic
  • You may have to tolerate a bit of mouthiness

Remember: A caring adult is the number one factor in  teens’ success.  They need connection and guidance.

Handouts are available here.

--Andrea @Central