Week 12 – Children and Teens – Twitter Chat Champion

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    • #2682
      Tracey Allen

      Programming for children and teens has been around for a long time. Storytime, book clubs and summer reading are some of the programs that libraries have offered in the past. Technology had initially brought about a decrease in attendance of these programs as more and more people have access to resources in their own homes.  However, for children/teens of low socioeconomic families, the “digital divide” has meant that the library’s ability to provide access to current technology is a major drawcard. Teens especially rely on the internet and social media to connect with peers.

      On Monday, 12 October 2015, a twitter chat was held by the QUT Masters of Information Science cohort to discuss the issues related to programs for children and teens. Special guests Mylee Joseph and Kay Oddone also joined us. Two topics of interest to me were unattended kids and homework help programs.

      Is there a problem with unattended kids in the library? The majority of the cohort agreed that unattended children posed a risk to not only themselves, but they also cause disruptions for other library users. @ruthmcconchie states that supervising children does not come under the role of the librarian and @crowbiteNS added that librarians are not trained in this area.  These statements confused me as I would have thought that in order to run the children/teens programs in a library, there would be an element of training in understanding child development, in order to have a more effective program. The age of unattended children was also discussed and a consensus was reached on an age of 10-12yrs to be ok to be unsupervised. Another issue brought up by @MysliwyL was that there were unsupervised children who are still at the library at closing time with no parent in sight, which is very worrying. The policy for this in Brisbane City Council libraries is to call the police which is understandable given the time/society we live in.

      In a time where two income families are becoming the norm, should school and/or public libraries be offering “homework help” after school? I posed this question as it is something I believe is missing in my local community. @L_Riethmuller was quick to respond with “Yes! I think homework help is an excellent way of engaging young people with library services early”. Many others agreed also, though as @crowbiteNS mentioned public libraries would probably benefit more than school libraries from the program. @KayOddone suggests that the librarian would be able to teach research skills and information literacy skills to the students, though the help should not cover specifics to allow the children to complete their own work. An issue that was touched on by most of the cohort was the resources needed to run this type of program and the possible need for extra volunteers, including those with teaching or teacher aide qualifications. These issues are probably the reason behind the current lack of homework help programs in my area.

      I believe that the future of children’s programming includes digital storytime, makerspaces, graphic novels, pop-culture, homework help, tech for kids, app based books, games and whatever else our cohort may imagine.

    • #2684
      Shannon Franzway

      I really like the idea of homework help in a public library – if teens have a place where they can meet friends (some who may attend different schools), do homework in a collaborative environment and be themselves (within reason, of course!), it gives them a positive association with libraries which hopefully should follow them through life.  I think this is a better opportunity for public libraries than school libraries – as much as teens should be engaging/learning/developing skills as much as possible in their school library, if this is there only library contact, once they finish school they may not transition to public libraries and they could be lost.

    • #2689
      hanan albishri

      Hi Tracy ..Great post and an interesting idea .. I think as this evaluation suggests, public libraries have long fostered literacy skills in our nation’s children. Public libraries have taken up this mission with zeal. Children in this state benefit from a broad array of preschool and summer reading programs designed to enhance their reading skills.

    • #2710
      Ruth McConchie

      Great post Tracey. I agree with you, interacting with kids and teens is an incredibly important part of a librarian’s job. I don’t think that supervising them is the librarian’s responsibility, mainly for privacy reasons. I think if the library wants to be an inclusive and welcoming space for teens, then it should as you suggest focus on the users’ needs like homework and research help, rather than supervision.

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