In the past, children and young adults used Reader's Guide to Periodicals to search for articles and gathered information from sources such as World Book encyclopedia. Today's information resources include a wide range of electronic tools as well as traditional resources. In many cases digital resources can be accessed anywhere, anytime. This is changing the role of the library and librarians. Today's professionals must be prepared to address the face-to-face as well as virtual needs of young patrons.
The child in the photo is using the resources available at his school library. He may be enjoying the outdoors, but he may also be researching the animals that live in the park near his home. His school librarian has created a pathfinder focusing on local wildlife that can be accessed anywhere, anytime.
Many websites allow you preview or read entire books online.
Read How Teens Do Research in the Digital World from PewResearchCenter. This about how the process of inquiry and information access is evolving through the use of technology.
Read Becker, Charles H. (2012). Student values and research: Are millenials really changing the future of reference and research? Journal of Library and Administration, 52(6-7), 474-497.
Try Google Books. Google books has launched their own ebook store, but you can still read many books for free using their website, mobile apps iOS and Android), and eReaders such as Nook and Sony Reader.
Bridging Print and Nonprint Resources
Some library professionals are reluctant to embrace electronic resources. They'd rather see young people reading print books than surfing the web, playing an interactive game, or reading an e-book. However in the information age, the media is not as important as the message being presented. The key is ensuring that children and young adults are responsible users of all types of information resources.
As you explore information resources, create a bridge between traditional materials and emerging electronic resources. For instance, you can extend the print reading experience with informational materials related to the book.
These book-technology connections as easy to create. For example, you might gather a number of books related to the same topic and encourage youth to select and read the book that peaks their interest. Then, be prepared with additional resources related to the plot, setting, and characters of the book to extend the experience.
Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs focuses on a fifteen-year-old's experience attempting to "cross the wire" from Mexico into the United States. Bring the book alive by connecting to the author's website and ALA's Becoming American - New Immigration Stories.
Thematic activities, book clubs, and literature circles are a great way to promote reading as well as encourage students to conduct personal inquiries. Regardless of whether you're partnering with a classroom teacher on a social studies unit or promoting a new reading club for young adults at the public library, the key is building connections that will entice young readers.
A Range of Resources
Read Premium Resource vs. General Websites from the Morton Grove Public Library. This page helps library users understand the difference between quality, electronic resources provided through the library and websites users might find when surfing the Web. Why do you think this library chose to include this page with their links to library resources for kids and teens?
From peer reviewed journal articles to fan club sites, electronic materials can easily be produced and distributed by anyone. It's important that young people understand how information is produced and distributed. In other words, they need to be able to evaluate the quality of resources. In addition, they need to question how web content is created and updated.
For example, wikipedia is produced collaboratively. Thousands of people have contributed content. Although it's fine to use this resource, young people need to understand how the information is generated. A particular article may be written by a person with specialized expertise in a particular field. On the other hand, the author may have little knowledge of the area. This resource can be a good starting point because it can lead to quality resources in the same way that print encyclopedias are often used by youth. However it should not be the only resource used.
Considering joining a project that involves students in the process of building a wiki so they understand how they are built. The wikipedia website has a section specifically for young people called wikijunior where children can participate in projects such as Wikijunior Dinosaur.
A group of concerned educators has created a school version of wikipedia called Wikipedia Selection for School that provides an edited version of wikipedia.
Go to wikipedia and wikibooks. Consider how to approach the use of these resources with young people. Also, explore Wikipedia Selection for School thinking about the advantages of this website for youth.
Read Wicked or Wonderful? Revisiting the World of Wikipedia. What are your thoughts about Wikipedia? How would you explain its role in information seeking to parents, teachers, and students?
Remember that each individual is unique. When addressing the question "What's the United Kingdom?", different youth will find a range of resources valuable in understanding the answer. A teen could read a book on paper or on a Kindle, read a Wikipedia article, or watch a video. Each element could help him or her understand through the power of options, collaborative websites, visuals, and video. What do you prefer? What would youth prefer?
Youth can easily become overwhelmed and distracted when working online. Looks for ways to meet individual needs by directing attention to specific resources, providing choices, and organizing assignments in an easy-to-access space. Regardless of whether you're a school or public librarian, it's important to help youth develop the skills they need to identify information.
Look for resources that provide alternative ways to present information. For instance, an infographic is a visual representation of information providing the "big picture" of a topic that might otherwise be difficult to understanding. Graphics are used to quickly convey the main idea along with supporting details like the TheGlobalWarming infographic that includes graphics and diagrams.
Ask students to look at the history of slavery in a different way using 389yearsago.
Let's say youth are going to examine the way information is organized on an infographic. If you let them search on Google, they'll enjoy the exploration, but it may not be the best use of their time. Teach students to search for specific types of information in specific formats such as climate change infographic and you'll find an interesting comparison of global warming skeptics vs scientific consensus. However, the activity may be more effective if you pre-select resources focused on a content area such as A Visual History of the American Presidency or Unlocking the Mystery of the Humpback Whale. Otherwise you'll find a group of students checking out Beer Pong.
Provide youth with choices. Some might be interested in fitness while others might prefer to learn about disasters or the psychology of color. Create a student guide using Microsoft Word or Google Docs.