What follows is a proposal I've been discussing with my IFLA colleagues (from the Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section) since last year.
I intend to include parts of this under "future plans/ ideas", for the part on "digital/ Web 2.0. experiments to reach and engage the younger generation".
- While some librarians think there is value in doing this, others are skeptical. But what about the teens? Maybe they think it's irrelevant.
- Perhaps in a few years time, using digital media to reach the "younger generation" might not be exclusively applied to only teens, i.e. such ways of using digital and social networking platforms would be equally relevant to adults and seniors.
There's no title for this proposal. Here's the broad outline (feel free to comment):
It's about "Youth Expression" -- we want youths (13 to 25, thereabouts) to express their thoughts in any medium they are comfortable with.
[Note: The closest example I can find is at postsecret.blogspot.com. See also, "Potential Issues" below]
Teen volunteers and Libraries will play central roles in this project, e.g. Young adults can help refine the ideas as well as carry it through; libraries and librarians can help facilitate in the planning, getting youths to participate, acting as mentors/ resource people for the young people.
We want to make it "global" in terms of participation. The Internet will be an enabler. With current technology, we are probably looking at using some online tools (e.g. blogs) to put what teens come up with, online. We can also leverage on free tools like Youtube, Flickr etc.
For participants and libraries who don't have ready access to the Internet, they will still be included. They can be partnered with libraries who have the means.
12 months (to give enough time for publicity and participation)
IMPLEMENTATION (i.e. Imagine this):
We have X libraries in Y countries signing up, by Z date.
Each library forms a team (youth volunteers and librarians). At the planning stage, these teams will link up with X libraries across Y countries to refine the aims/ themes/ scope of implementation.
The teams can discuss via Instant Messenging, emails, blogs.
They will shortlist the themes, think of how to publicise and carry out this project. Basically, they agree on what is to be done, and how to do it.
We can also invite more young people to suggest a list and we shortlist the themes. We can agree on a few common themes, and also allow different countries to focus on different themes.
Posting of entries
The idea is to allow young people to express themselves using ANY MEDIUM they are comfortable with.
This can be digital or non-digital (e.g. produce a video, or produce a sketch on paper).
But the entries should be coverted to digital formats (e.g. scanned) and uploaded to digital platforms (e.g. blogs, Flickr.com, YouTube)
For participants who may have difficulties in utilising digital formats (e.g. lack of equipment or infrastructure), they can send in their entries via snail mail, to be hosted/ uploaded by libraries who have the means.
POTENTIAL ISSUES (main ones I can think of)
English is not the first language in all countries. And would everyone consider it to be "universal"? Potential solution: Adopt English out of convenience. Or allow different language submissions, but they must be accompanied by English translations.
Different levels of what's deemed as acceptable or sensitive, in terms of topics or contributions. For instance, at the PostSecrets blog, you'll notice the topics touch upon topics that might be considered taboo in some cultures (e.g. sexuality, homosexuality) Potential solution: Let the youth volunteers plan and discuss this (that, to me, is one of the main point of this event!)
How "open" do we want the contributions to be? If we allow online submissions, we can't really verify if people claim they are "youths". Potential solution: We may have to live with some ambiguity, or we combine with some form of validation by having libraries collate the entries (one has to choose between being careful or being the bottlebeck).