Monthly Archives: June 2013

Crossing the streams: using lessons from fandom to talk about digital life

Crossing the streams is an expression that I first heard in fandom, which means when two fandoms intersect in a way that you didn’t expect. An example of it from my work this year was when due to some odd light, there was a strange shadow under one of the library tables. Many of my students are Doctor Who fans and immediately thought of Silence in the Library, an episode where extra shadows appear in a planetwide library and signal enemies. When I got the reference, the students were amazed and then loved it as we all tried to figure out what was going on with the shadow. We never did but it was a powerful moment of the world of fandom becoming part of the life of the library.

This is a fairly simple example and a nice one, where my knowledge of Doctor Who became another way for me to understand what was going on with my students. In terms of their lives online, it becomes complicated but I think is no less important.

Two of the main concerns I see brought up when educators talk about life online are safety and creation and consumption. The worry is that young people are consuming too much online and not creating enough, that the internet is too passive. This will make them not as thoughtful about information online or what they post online. I think these are important concerns and have an idea of how to approach them.

I think crossing the streams and using the understanding of how young people are creating and posting their work online as well as how they live online can be a way to help teach them about issues of safety and copyright. What’s key about this idea is to make certain that its coming from a place of understanding and in a safe environment for the students.

Since high school, I’ve been involved in fandom and friendships online and have seen platforms change plus how those platforms are used. I know that I don’t consider myself an expert, there are parts of the online world that students will know better than I will. Yet I’m older and have more experience in terms of what will work and what won’t in a greater sense of the world. I learned this year when I was talking with students, observing them and trying to help them make good decisions that one of the best ways to begin was to listen. When you’re a teenager and an adult takes the time to listen to you and respect your opinion and understanding of what you’re doing, that’s powerful. Libraries are a space where there isn’t as clear a hierarchy between young people and adults, which means they’re a good place to have these sorts of conversations. These are risky conversations because much of what’s shared online and explored isn’t easy, teenagers are using fandom to explore their desires as well as their dislikes. I know I would have to begin any of these classes with an important disclaimer that what’s shared is what’s chosen to be shared or else no one will feel comfortable. Once that safe space has been created, then its possible to look into the mechanics of sharing and creation and consumption online. Since its important to realize that young people are going to not choose to share everything with all adults but talking with them about choices and giving them ways to think about them will help.

I wish these thoughts were more complete but I don’t think there are any right answers. Instead its important to get these discussions going and make certain that they spread from those living online to those who don’t understand what’s online.


Leave a comment

Filed under online life, roeper reflections, Uncategorized

End of the year-Changed for good

The title of this post comes from the musical Wicked and the entire line is:

Because I knew you…
I have been changed for good.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this song and lyrics as the last few weeks and days of the school year go bye especially knowing that this will be my only year at Roeper. Its painful to write that but due to issues of expectations and fit, I won’t be coming back. My hope is that Roeper can find the type of librarian that can create the library that the entire community wants and needs and that the seeds I planted this year will grow in the future.

Its not easy to sum up what I learned this year and how I’ve discovered that being a school librarian is the right career fit for me. That’s why this entry is going to be the first of a few where I reflect on this year.

For now I’m going to talk about the simplest and hardest part of the end of the year for me, which was all the relationships with students. Wednesday was a half day and the last day of school and I can’t recall when I cried that much in so short a time. Since the middle/upper school campus is being renovated over the summer, everyone had to be out sooner than felt like the norm.

It was the first day when there hasn’t been a meeting that there was no one in the library after school. I found that strange but it was also heartening that before the final assembly, some of my regulars; high school students and middle school students found their way to the library to just be for a bit. As the computers were being packed up, middle schoolers were playing various computer games as the high schoolers sprawled over the couch before everyone headed to the assembly for awards and performances. Other than the plastic over the copier and one of the bookshelves, it might have just been another day. That’s a moment I’m going to hold onto as it captured what I love most about being a school librarian; how a library is many things for many people. One student when describing what I did made me laugh and cry with her words and I want to end on them as for me, they show the day-to-day jobs of this year and job. This is paraphrased.

You made the guys play games better, you made it pretty, you helped me with the copier, you were right there.

Leave a comment

Filed under goals and career, roeper reflections