Friday, March 13, 2009

First night of ACRL

I have been having a great time in Seattle visiting my cousin and a friend from grad school who is now a teen librarian in a public library an hour north of Seattle. She showed me her library and we spent two days catching up. This is the first time I've really gotten any kind of feel of what it would be like to work as a public librarian.

Much of what she does is programming aimed at teens. She gets attendance numbers upwards of 130 for some of her programs from gaming nights to murder in the library programs. I realized that academic librarians who are interested in bringing gaming aspects into the instruction room and orientations could probably learn a lot from the teen librarian literature. Maybe some of you have already looked at this and found it didn't work, but it is something I really want to look into when I get home.

Teen librarians have the same disadvantages as academic librarians when it comes to engaging a generation we are not part of (some of you may be, but I've realized recently that even at 29, my college experiences were so different than our students). They have the added disadvantage of the teens having less of a connection to the library than our students do. They aren't even physically near it on a regular basis. They have to create and market programs that make the grumpiest age group WANT to come to the library. We've often got captive audiences, but they don't necessarily WANT to be engaged by us.

Granted, many of the programs that teen librarians put on have nothing to do with education or navigating the library. But some do. Even if they don't, we might still be able to find something we could turn into an educational experience. She said they had a treasure hunt activity where groups were given a picture of items in the library, like a part of a sign, and the groups had to run around and find it. Learning the parts of the library wasn't the main goal of this, but the students would learn.

I'm wondering also if I could get more ideas for "big games" from board games. I went to the game night at ACRL and played Don't Stop with a librarian from L.A., one from Syracuse, and a friend of the librarian from Syracuse. I took a picture, but will have to wait to post it. I had never played this game before, but there's something about it that is similar to the kid's game Red Light/Green Light. There might be something there that could be used for library instruction, but I don't know what yet. I also played Dance Revolution (I think) with Jenny Levine. I stank and I don't think there's anything I can use for instruction, but it was a lot more fun than I expected!

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