YA Clicks October 2008
REBECCA PURDY AND THE WEB SURFERS FROM THE CENTRAL RAPPAHANNOCK REGIONAL LIBRARY
Most teens are too young to vote, but none are too young to care. Encourage them to be in the know with sites dedicated to creating informed citizens.
YA LIBRARIAN’S CHOICE
Declaration of Independence, Inc.
4I 3R 5U A/YA
This site’s goal is “to empower and encourage every eighteen-year-old in America to register and vote,” and it has a star-packed lineup (Ellen Degeneres and Jessica Alba to name a few) to back it. Not only are you able to register to vote, you can also learn your state’s registration requirements and deadline for this year’s elections. There’s a page listing the presidential candidates’ views on issues such as health care and foreign policy. It is one of the best lists I’ve seen comparing and contrasting the candidates’ opinions. The blog addresses recent campaign news and Declare Yourself events. Teens are encouraged to “Declare Your School” and set up a voter registration drive on their campus; step-by-step instructions are included. It is a great site overall, but I wonder whether public service announcements from the High School Musical stars is
really a draw for eighteen year olds.
5I 3R 4U M J S
You are faced with three choices when you arrive at the FreeChild Project Web site: “Issues,” “Actions,” and “Resources.” In each area, topics are divided into broad categories that are relevant to teens and then narrowed to more focused interests like the voting age, war, and hip-hop. A brief introduction and “Points to Ponder” can be found for each subject, along with a list of Web sites and resources. Teens can browse, decide if they want to get active, and then choose the best way to become involved. FreeChild does a great job providing political and issue-related information in a comprehensive manner teens can easily navigate.
4I 4R 4U M J S
This free site provides teen activists a place to share their triumphs, no matter how small. Journal entries range from campaigning for Obama to putting up posters and contacting the American Civil Liberties Union to protest fingerprint identification for school lunches. Other members can comment on your post and award you wings. The wings are in the form of a little creature that I assume is meant to be an angel, but there is a slightly zombieesque quality to its eyes. Despite this competitive aspect, the members’ primary focus continues to be the issues for which they are passionate. As an adult who frequently wonders, “What can I do?” these amazing teens are living proof of the answer—a lot.
THROUGH YA EYES
Scoop Media, Inc.
5I 3R 3U J S
This site is a daily national student newspaper that provides information on issues in the 2008 election. It is a great resource for students in high school and college. Scoop08 has more than 400 students’ blogs, and the site claims that there is still room for others. The best feature is definitely the interaction between students from around the country submitting different stories about the current election. So go to this site! You don’t have to sign up right away—look around—you’ll find some very interesting stuff. You may not have seen a lot of this information on the TV or in the newspaper. One thing I would suggest is that there should be a place to communicate instantly on the Web site. The students could have their own instant conversations about anything they wanted. However it’s such a good site that you should visit it if you’ve missed something in the election, want to catch up on the latest news, or even want to submit your own blog.—Bryan Pomeroy.
Teen Power Politics
Sara Jane Boyers
2I 1R 1U M
This site plays at being activist-oriented; the opening graphic asks you to choose between “sitting on your butt” and “making yourself heard.” After choosing “making yourself heard” (the “sitting on your butt” link does nothing), one arrives at what must be the home page, featuring an odd radio graphic reminiscent of the psychedelic era. From there, it is difficult to discover where to go next. The “What’s New” option includes an advertisement for the book Teen Power Politics (Twenty-First Century Books, 2000/VOYA April 2001) and a link back to the homepage. The “Activism” link is broken. “Issues” leads the viewer to a list of so-called issues. Every link leads to dumps of useless information accompanied by graphics full of broken links. The information is nearly gibberish, never making any real points. “Reference” is useful in that it has a very large list of real, informational Web sites. The other obvious choice, “Join Newsletter” leads to a series of out-of-date “newsletters,” most of which appear to be amateur editorials on political events. No information exists anywhere as to how one can actually get involved. Overall this site is a useless dump of nothingness that fails at providing information or even making a decent book advertisement.—Dylan Vasey.
Teens for the Environment
Students of Henry M.Gunn High School
3I 1R 3U M J
Teens for the Environment is a student-run Web site that attempts to gauge general teen interest toward current environmental issues and create new ways of influencing teens in their environmental viewpoints and decisions. A large portion of the information relates to the students running this project and the project’s goals. A smaller portion of the site is dedicated to informing teens about actions they can take to help out the environment. There is a short survey asking teens their opinions on certain conservation measures and whether they conserve water, use public transportation, or recycle. A more useful page lists a number of
ways young adults can help the earth, including water and energy conservation measures that can be easily enacted in everyday life. Despite the survey, very little of this site is meant for user interaction; reading through it once is fun, but further visits are probably a waste of time. It is easy to navigate, partly because there are very few pages. The graphics are not amazing; the site looks as if it could have been designed from a template. It is somewhat understandable, however, considering high school students designed this site. Although the site encourages teens to be concerned and alert about the environment, it provides no reason why the environment is such an important issue. A list of environmentally friendly actions is included, but there are no explanations of how those actions would help. Overall this site is not amazing in its graphics or design, but serves its purpose. —Chuhern Hwang.
5I 4R 3U M J S
YouthNoise provides a forum for youth around the world to discuss issues such as the economy, poverty, and war. YouthNoise’s “NoiseBoards” act as the center of discussion for the Web site’s members and allows them to discuss topics related to social action and politics. This forum is a great way to voice your opinion and discuss a wide variety of topics with other politically minded students. Campaigns to raise money for member-recommended charities are also available. The site features a showcase for artistic projects, articles categorized by cause, listings for awards, and an international current-events calendar of issues. I highly recommend this Web site for any teen interested in social action and politics or who simply enjoys watching the coverage of this year’s election. YouthNoise caters toward politically aware and/or active teenagers. Membership as a “Yner” is required to post on the forums, along with being older than thirteen years of age.—Christopher Chan.
KUDOS FOR LIBRARY TEEN SITES
Boulder Public Library Teens
Boulder (CO) Public Library
This site is as fun to look at as it is to explore. Bright colors, easy-to-read text and a news banner announcing the latest update immediately grab your attention. The home page isn’t overwhelming; only a few things are featured and everything else is readily accessible through easy-to-understand link names like “Find It,” “Calendar,” “Creative Types,” and “Reviews.” They’ve already featured a section on September’s home page called “It’s Your Country Too—Do Something,” which encourages teens to get involved and includes a booklist and links to a variety of sites dealing with teen issues. One of the subheadings for their Web links is “Procrastinate,” in which you will find sites to help you kill an hour or more. The “Webcasts” are provided by teens, and although two feature library-related issues (book reviews and their Teen Advisory Board), another talks about art and still another seems to cover a variety of subjects including a local high school’s Academic Decathlon team. A sense of humor, appealing style, teen involvement, and community aspect make it a library site from which we can all learn something.
[Note on the Kudos section: If you think your library blog, wiki, podcast, or site is worthy of consideration, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Web Surfers and I will surf submissions and choose one to showcase for each column.]
Rebecca Purdy is the Youth Services Manager at the Headquarters branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Web Surfers are a collection of teens willing to volunteer some of their time to see their names in print and help young adult librarians find good sites for their social networking sites and Web pages.