Wow...can't believe we are already sixteen (nearly seventeen) years into the 21st century! Do you remember saying something in high school like, "When it's 2015 I'll be (fill in the blank) years old!" Education is changing to adapt, and so is the pedagogy. And it's all because society and culture impact teens today so much more differently than ever before. With that in mind, I came up with some things I believe a 21st century library should be aware of.
1. Teens are connected, and so are adults
Walk down any hall of a high school and you'll see cell phones, laptops, tablets, and headphones galore! Make sure libraries are connected as well. This is now the standard norm, so libraries should not only be book driven, but device and peripheral driven too.
2. Learning is done more through video than ever before
Youtube, TedTalks, MOOCs...watching and learning are more accepted than ever before. When most new web tools have intro videos, take advantage of it. Create screencasts to "teach" students. Being visible is now done in front a camera and libraries should put themselves in the spotlight.
3. Reading preferences guide people and libraries.
Some like e-books, some like hardcopy. Paperbacks, hard copy, newspapers, magazines. Kindle, Nook, Overdrive, Follett, Netgalley, Edelweiss, and sites for fan fiction are diverse, but they have one thing in common - people who read use them for pleasure, and academic pursuits. And it make libraries re-think the concept of shelf space.
4. The virtual world is a lot larger than the physical one.
We don't live in a world where teens get home, eat a snack and do their homework. It's now more like get home, eat something, binge watch Neflix, check Snapchat or Twitter, then do homework...at midnight...or later. Make sure the library can meet them there. Create an online presence ASAP!
5. Handwriting is old school. Keep that in mind when you're creating signage
There are actually teens out there who only know how to write their name in cursive because of documents. Sigh.... And if that's the case, you know they can't read it. So make sure that if the library has displays, signage, or posters, that they use a font that to reach all users. Be cursive aware!
6. Social Media is the new telephone
Personal landlines are passe. Teens today may not understand how a pay phone works, much less a party line. They communicate en masse with social media. And when they "talk" to each other it's through text. Calling someone? That's ancient! Leverage these for the library so teens can communicate their way, making the library easier to access.
7. There is significant relationship building happening online.
Just when you thought you knew it all, catfishing for teens has taken on a completely new meaning. Relationships of all kinds begin online and then can become face-to-face. From using Remind for classes or Groupme for people with similar interests, there are ways libraries can create an online academic relationship with students.
8. Teens have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Interesting fact: the founders of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat's average age is TWENTY-TWO. Don't underestimate the genius of teens. They are changing our future. Heck they even created a new language adults had to learn - emoji, which began in the late 1990's and now has over 800 characters used in countless devices.
9. Teaching is not about lecture, but a participatory culture
It's one thing to talk to teens, but it completely morphs when teens talk, create, and group together to learn. Make the library that place where teens are learning in all sorts of ways. If we are worried about their interaction with people because of their obsession with devices, participatory culture MUST happen.
10. Libraries should not just have books....they should have a whole lot more
And I'm not talking about computers (although that would be nice!) Think about things that could be checked out to patrons that are out of the norm. How about gardening tools? Anyone love to bake? Crafters could always use knitting needs and crochet hooks. Sports equipment doesn't always have to belong in the gym and budding artists can save money by checking out brushes. JACKPOT!