Friday, May 8, 2009

E-coolness at the library

Reading is, in general, a solitary and anti-social activity - so how do we get kids not only to read but to demonstrate their love of books in such an exciting and innovative way that other kids can't help but be hooked?

Some libraries have found some fantastic answers to these questions. Several encourage kids and teens to make video reviews or trailers of their favorite books, which are entered in contests and shown on the library's website. King County Library System uses this approach for their teen Summer Reading Club - here is a winning video in the 2008 contest:

A similar library program is Storytubes, which looks totally cool. Check out the 2009 winning entries here.

Kids aren't old enough to post videos on YouTube and some of them don't have the equipment or savvy to make anad upload a video - so why not use an inexpensive video camera like the Flip to make book-review movies in the library? Kids could come to a series of programs that prepare them to make props, plan out the action, write a script - and then the librarian could film them or they could even film each other. Finally, the videos could be uploaded (with parental permission) onto the library's website. E-coolness!

Podcasts are even easier, if less glitzy. And of course, an interactive section of a library website could allow kids to upload written book reviews via blog comment or special form.

Cool apps like Glogster combine visual effects, including videos, and sound to create multi-media poster displays (see my own attempt here) - what kid wouldn't have fun with this? In fact, videos made in the library can be embedded into the poster. And how much better to load kids' creations onto the library's kid website, so that other kids will see these cool book-based creations.

This sort of application is absolutely free and requires only some computers and some creativity, making it a natural for a library program. Videos are a bit more involved, but really, only one inexpensive video camera (and support - tech and otherwise - from your library system) is needed.

And if you dream really, really big, perhaps you can envision someday having a library like this one in Aarhus, Denmark:

Wow - maybe some day. But in the meantime, we can provide cool, digital ways for kids to express their creativity and love of books, and we can use those same methods ourselves to promote our books and services to kids.

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