An ALA Annual Conference Program presented by ALSC’s Children & Technology Committee.
Librarians of all kinds as well as others with interests in reaching out to kids through technology, gathered in the large room of the Marriott next to the Anaheim Convention center to listen to Warren Buckleitner discuss his creation of Mediatech at the Flemington (NJ) Public Library. Warren first introduced to the audience how Mediatech was born and how he acquired space and support for his dream of providing children a space that is “wholesome, safe, supervised, fun, [and a] highly social option in the after school hours.” Through slides and video clips, the audience followed Warren through the beginning stages of Mediatech. The presentation soon changed gears as Warren discussed the types of technology available in Mediatech: Xbox 360, Wii, computers, Play Station Portable (PSP) – among others – as well as the many games to choose from for the various consoles that can be checked out. Warren also did not shy away from some of the negative things you have to be practical about when running a technology center of this magnitude: theft will happen, so be prepared. Another somewhat negative aspect of gaming that Warren discussed was the existence of “addictive” games. These are games that have endless levels and not a whole lot of thinking happening on the part of the game player. These games suck a child into a mindless world where they “just need to make it to the next level!” He offered alternatives to promote to users such as Brain Age Smart Move by Nintendo or Scratch – a website that creates an alternative way to produce stories and animations, games and music (see Showcase of Success for an example of this in a library program).
The audience had many questions about the packaging and circulation of games, time limits placed on use of various equipment, age ranges for use, and many more. The session was informative and engaging. In addition to Warren’s great presentation the Children & Technology Committee also set up a “Showcase of Success” at the back of the room. The Showcase provided a look at some successful library programs that have used various types of technology in programming. A complete list of the programs with details is available on the Child Tech Wiki at: http://wikis.ala.org/alsc/index.php/ALSC_ChildTech_Wiki . To help audience members find this website and more information on Mediatech, the Committee also passed out Mini Moo Cards produced by Flickr that contained a photo of a child engaged with technology and the web address for the Wiki.
If you missed out on attending this great program, please visit the Child Tech Wiki for more details about Warren and Mediatech, as well as the complete Showcase of Success!
Bethany Lafferty; Children & Technology Committee member, 2006-2008