Bringing the mountain to Mohammed Part II

James from the Teen Tech Squad and I did another Scratch session at the Zanewood Recreation Center during their after school programming time. Like our last visit, we were given space to set our 6 laptops up in the gaming room where there's a Wii, pool tables, a huge TV and a very loud radio. There were fewer kids at Zanewood overall than there were last month. The staff attributed this to 1)nicer weather and 2)students spending more time finishing up big end-of-year projects. Regardless, all 6 laptops were in constant use during the 2 hours we were there. An informal poll of participants indicated that they were all from North View Junior High, that they all recognized each other, and that they represented grades 7-9.

James and I gave a very rudimentary explanation on how to use Scratch, starting with having the kids look at projects in the Examples folder. We had them create a sprite, animate it, then handed participants Scratch cards Key Moves, Moving Animation, Say Something) and set them loose while we ran around and answered questions. We had a wave of mostly teen girls who came in, looked at a few projects and left, then another wave of girls who sat down, and worked on projects for almost the entire time (including a repeat customer from last time.) A few guys stopped by for a few minutes, but they were only interested in playing games in Scratch while they waited for their turn at the Wii. When asked if they wanted to try to make a game, they declined.

Our session this time was very similar to our session last month at Zanewood. The girls were really engaged in what they were doing, and constantly got up to look at each other's projects to laugh, make suggestions, and answer each other's questions about how to do something. I felt James and I were a little superfluous, which I guess is good.

Zanewood is a great site for this program for all the reasons Alicia described last month--no Internet access, a somewhat captive audience, and a relaxed and non-threatening atmosphere (no security guards or adults giving kids the stinkeye, etc.) None of the kids there claimed to be regular library users. However, they recognized me from the visits Alicia and I did last week to do booktalks and promote summer programs. This leads me to reiterate some of the questions Alicia posed last week. We're really focused on programming in our buildings, doing other stuff in our buildings, especially in these economic times. However, we're able to build relationships and offer library programs to a wider, possibly more receptive audience by going off site. There's no cajoling or used-car-dealing to get kids to participate in our program when we bring it to where they are, to their social scene. It makes me question the usefulness of spending so much time and energy on doing programming in our building.

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Comment by Jen on June 3, 2010 at 11:37am
Great questions - and really important as we look at what it means to be a librarian today - if we can move all kinds of things to virtual worlds, why can't we move them down the block? no less important for building community and relationships.
Comment by keithbraafladt on June 2, 2010 at 9:57pm
I've been thinking about this more and I'm wondering if you've talked to Mahina and Rachel about their outreach to the "Y"'s and their thoughts about the work outside the libraries - how it compares to your experiences at Zanewood....?
Comment by keithbraafladt on June 1, 2010 at 10:00pm
Yep good question - my quick response to this is that the libraries are providing the structure to develop this kind of programming - I might think the same for my work - and we charge fees for our workshops for each youth/teen - but it wasnt until I started to get to work with library staff like you that I really began to understand why this was important to all youth. Maybe its sort of cliche but doing this in libraries comes with the limitations and the benefits in a public setting with ( for the most part in my experience) very passionate staff with great ideas... so to me libraries are a develomental setting for programs - and perhaps that's one of the important arguments for it. ( of course I could be way off on this as well by looking past the limitations and frustrations...)

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