Posts Tagged ‘teens’

Halo and Clever Kids

I don’t mind the game. Honestly, I don’t. I’m a science fiction and fantasy fan, so really, the basic premise is fine. And of course, who doesn’t want to be an amazing “fighter/warrior/marine,” the underdog, who takes on the Covenant, one mission at a time, one day of reckoning after another? Looks like some kind of fun.

That is, until last week when suddenly, out of fourteen computers on our main floor in the library, there were 12 kids who were playing Halo on our computers. . . . against each other.

How did they do that? That kind of game would normally bring our bandwidth to its knees.

So here were all these middle and high school boys (ok, there was one girl) on our computers and the place was quiet, too quiet? apparently, they were either using headsets or they simply played without the sound. That’s a lot of shooting; I thought the gun sounds were part of the fun.

Anywayyyyy, as much as I enjoyed having the kids, I had to find out how they were accomplishing this feat. It turned out that one (or more of them) had figured out how to get the game on a thumb drive, download it temporarily onto a computer and then the rest of the kids would access the game through our local LAN. I didn’t even know such a thing was possible.

I called our computer department to give them a heads up and sure enough, a few days later I got the verdict: although the kids hadn’t done any damage to our network yet, the chance for a virus to piggyback onto an illegal bootleg copy of the game was high. The kids had to cease and desist.

In a way, I felt bad. They were having a blast. I even heard kids saying, with shocked voices, “Wow, man, we were playing Halo at the library!” Yes, for those few days, the buzz was big, and the library was a cool place to go.

Gotta figure out how to capture that excitement legally. Sigh.

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Scooter Bandit

OK, not a bandit, but still a laugh riot! This story comes from a colleague . . . (thanks Karen L)

Apparently, there is a young teen who is stretching the “letter of the law” to its outer edges. His latest caper (he has been cited for other misdemeanors outside the library) is to ride his scooter (a motorized skateboard with handles) through the branch. That’s right, he opens the door and then rides like hell through the main floor and collection and back out again. He must think he’s the next Jason Bourne.

You would think the staff could stop him, but think about it: would you step in front of a moving scooter? Me either. It all happens so fast.

They yell at him as he flies by, but he only laughs. Once they actually managed to stop him at the door (quick thinking) and told him he was not allowed to ride in the branch and his reply: “There’s no sign that says I can’t do that.”

Interesting point of view, eh? Does that mean we have to have a sign for every possible infraction? Can you just imagine it?

Do not park your car inside the building.
Do not bring a bed and sleep overnight in the building.
Do not grill steaks in the building.
Do not bring portable showers and bathe in the building.

The list would be endless. How do you communicate “common sense” to someone who doesn’t seem to have any? Who would think you’d have to have a sign for riding a motorized “anything” in a library?

They have called the police, of course, but there’s not much they can do if they can’t catch him at it. He’s clever that way. I suppose it could be worse . . . he could be a flasher.

What would you do?

Positively Chocolate

Our library has just initiated our annual Winter Reading Program. Although it is geared for adults, we also encourage teenagers to participate. In our little branch, historically, one of the librarians has gone to the high school to book talk and plug our winter and spring programs.

With the recent change in personnel, the task of overseeing teen programming and selecting materials for teens has fallen to me. Yikes! The last time I faced a classroom of teenagers, I was a substitute teacher. And that was a regular nightmare!

I was really sweating bullets as I thought about the kids and how I could possibly keep them engaged for twenty minutes while I talked about books and the library. My own son said he would cut class and even take a cut slip before he’d sit through it. That was encouraging. Not!

So, I devised the age old trick: chocolate.

It worked! I spent two days at the high school, talked to 20 different classes of English students, from AP and Honors to the lowest levels, from Seniors to Freshmen, and the chocolate was my foot in the door. As I walked from classroom to classroom, I’d hear kids say, “Hey, chocolate lady” or “There’s the Library lady with the chocolate.” And not just little Hershey kisses either, I was giving out the big chunky Hershey kind as well as Snickers, Butterfingers and Nestles’ Crunch. It was play. And it was fun. I had a great time and so did they. And for me, it was worth every penny.

I tossed out chocolate for every time they could answer the questions correctly about the program start and end dates or how many books they had to read or if they could name the titles I had chatted up after I put them away in my “green bag.” Of course, they also got chocolate if they could figure out who my son was… when one group of sophomore girls figured it out, the hormones hit the ceiling, “That’s your son? Oh man, he is HOT!” [Girls, girls…I’m his mother for crying out loud.]

Oh, and what about our numbers? Not bad, I think we’re up to 68 registered teens. But you know what I like the best? The kids who come in now and just talk to me like they know me. Of course, I’m thinking, maybe it wasn’t the chocolate at all but the notoriety that comes from being the mother of a “player.” Oh well, whatever works.

Small Surprises

Just when I thought it would be a humdrum week after the holiday lull, we had a small surprise waiting for us in the men’s restroom at closing tonight.

It’s not like we haven’t had “small surprises” before. You know, the usual stuff: feces in the urinal, shredded toilet paper all over the floor, a flood from a stopped up toilet, vomit from a child “who didn’t quite make it,” and so forth. But the surprise tonight was a lulu: in the handicap accessible stall of the men’s room were four ladies’ thongs.

At first discovery, my mind raced. What could have happened here? Were there really four teenage (or older) girls in the men’s room stall? What were they doing? No. Oh come on, could we have missed that kind of a party? Did they actually have sex in there? No. Come on. Not possible, right? Right?

And of course, in the meeting room tonight we had a special program, Emily Dickinson Live!, with a local performer. We had a huge crowd of people who don’t normally come to the library. How many of our male guests went into the restroom to discover female underwear on the floor? How long were those thongs in there? No one mentioned it, but then, what would a fellow say? “Ahem, pardon me, but there are four pairs of ladies’ underwear in the men’s room and by all appearances, it looks like whoever had them on was in a hurry to take them off.” Sigh.

Maybe our culprits were the two elementary school aged boys who rushed into the men’s room at the last minute before we closed? But where did they get skimpy girls underwear? Did they steal them from their sisters’ dresser in order to drop them into the four corners of the men’s room stall? That’s a stretch.

All right, I confess, we gave up after two or three scenarios. It must have been a set up… a joke. Right?
… At least, we hope so…. What do you think?

Getting a Red Card!

We have been really struggling with some of our teen patrons. Mostly it’s just regular old teen rowdiness which is OK and expected at times, but there’s one group of girls who have really started dropping what we call the “F-bomb” in the library….and I mean loudly and inappropriately.

One day, it got so bad that we had to ask a group to leave and as one of the staff escorted them out, they regaled her with a string of expletives that would embarrass a sailor. We had to do something.

So, here’s our plan: it’s the old soccer “red card” system modified. First, we’ll use a gentle verbal warning and explain that we’ll be doing “strikes” or “penalty cards” after that. We tell them we would prefer NOT to do this but we’re finding it’s the only way to get a handle on noise and inappropriate behavior (we also have small signs to this effect in each work station). If the same person (or group) goes to the next level, we pass out a yellow card that says, “Please be considerate of others around you.” … The next level is an orange card that says, “…Strike Two is for behaviors that are not appropriate in the library.” And finally, the RED CARD, that says, “Please leave the premises for the rest of the library day.” This red card will also generate an internal incident report and hopefully a name to start building documentation.

Here’s the funny part: so far, in two weeks, we have only handed out one yellow card… most of the kids who were asked to leave that one day have not been back. On the day we started the plan, I spoke to one of the ringleaders and explained what we would be doing. I told her that she had to understand, no matter how angry a person is, one cannot attack library staff verbally. It’s simply not right. When I asked her if she would speak to her grandmother or aunt that way, her eyes got very wide, “No way!” she said.

Well, let’s see how it goes.

How do you handle truly offensive behavior in your library (whether adults or teens)?

IMVU

Our computers have filtering software on them and generally, the only ones that come up blocked in a normal day are the Juvi computers. They disallow images from those unpopular sites like Facebook and MySpace. LOL.

But those PC’s are right by the info desk so it’s not that big a deal. We simply type in a code word and the person is off and running.

But now we have IMVU. For the uninitiated, this is the latest chat platform for teens … it’s “talking” avatars.

After a year in Second Life, I’m somewhat familiar with the idea, but this one has caught me off guard. Currently, the application is blocked by our filtering software so we’re unblocking the crazy site about 25 times a day… if not more. The teens love it.

So what is the draw? Sexy avatars!

It’s funny because Second Life had these skinny hotties all along. And there is a Second Life just for teens. But SL is a bandwidth hog while IMVU is relatively lite. And it’s easy and quick.

So what can you do? Well, create an identity with a special name, play dress up … change clothes, chat–of course, create a “home” and even add a furniture. You can invite your friends to get their own avatars.

As you move around or do things, you collect credits… not sure what I’ll be doing with those, but I’m sure it’s to buy things. I have been through the tutorial and I have already learned how to move my avatar’s space around and I tried some of the pre-loaded moves like “yay” and “bored” etc. I also had a conversation with a “stranger” who was quite helpful and helped me navigate the space. Thanks Dpmase!

So, a little text … an avatar … and it’s 3D chat. Second Life folks said 3D Web would be where everything is heading and I’m thinking they were not wrong. Get ready.

If you want to find me… I’m Maijara…. ;~) www.imvu.com

The Hand Stamp

One of the big delights for our youngest crowd is the hand stamp. It doesn’t really matter what it is (although they do get to pick from a changing assortment: fish, dinosaur coming out of an egg, heart, cat, etc.). Some have been doing it for so long, they have developed favorites and some even request a particular color of ink.

But what is delight here? I think it’s proof they’ve been somewhere!

My kids are now teenagers but if they go to the hospital or the local carnival where wristbands are affixed, they will often leave them on. The message: I’ve been somewhere.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone thought about the library as a place of importance? Wouldn’t it be great if people could tell their neighbors were at the library today?

Hmmmm. I wonder! Maybe we should offer hand stamps to adults? Never know! 🙂