I am sure that almost everyone out there has heard the story "foot prints." You know the one, where a man is walking down the beach and he sees that there are 2 sets of footprints in the sand that represent every aspect of his life. However, the man notices that in "bad times," only one set of footprints appear in the sand. The man yells at God and asks why he abandoned him in his times of need, to which God replies, "it was then that I carried you." Some people find this story incredibly inspirational, some find it sappy, some may even be offended that I would liken the work of a Youth Services Librarian to that of God...but work with me.
This past weekend I attended the conference of the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA.) I was fortunate to hear the key note address given by Joyce Provenza, who is a guru of all things 21st Century in the school library world AND she is a currently practicing school librarian. In her presentation she talked about the important role of youth services librarians in helping young people build their "academic footprint" online. Just as we are encouraged as adult professionals to build our online presence and portfolio, we should also be aiding young people in this endeavor.
She said a way to start is to have students "google" themselves. What most find is there Facebook page, a few images, and maybe some mention in local newspapers for athletic or academic achievements. Much of what comes up from social media sites might not be flattering (to say the least! think "partying" photos.) Young people must first understand that most of what they post on the internet is public information, and that it can be used in things like the college admissions process or by potential employers. Next, we can empower them, teach them, and help them to make their online presence more reflective of their academic and extracurricular achievements. The list of possibilities seems to be endless, blogs, wikis, live binders, Twitter feeds (yes, there's more on there than following the next Charlie Sheen tirade) even appropriate YouTube videos (this links to the YouTube Education site)!
I see this as an important and innovative arena for librarians to be the driving force behind. We have to make ourselves relevant, we have to "carry" those kids through the quick sands of life lived online.
(please see my links section for some great ones that will link you to Joyce Provenza's work, her own academic footprint!)