Saturday, March 17, 2007

MySpace and Libraries

Recently Alternative Teen Services discussed libraries on MySpace -- does it invade a teen's privacy for a library to become a friend on MySpace? Is the library trying to hard to be cool to teens?

I think the questions are very closely related to the discussion we had last week about expectations. It cuts both ways: libraries expect teens to use MySpace (which, in turn, might bump up against parents' boundaries), and teens expect...what? What do teens expect of adults, and should we always fulfill their expectations?

Personally, I don't think that libraries should stay off MySpace altogether. It's good marketing, after all, and can be very successful, like the TeenSpace we looked at last week. I think that privacy and expectations come into play depending on the library's approach...if a library were to look up every teen in town and make them friends, without permission, that would creep me out. As a teen, it would've bothered me, and yeah, I would've felt like maybe an adult was invading my space a little (no pun intended) and trying to hard to be cool. Because teens (at least, when I was a teen, and I don't think this has changed) really don't want adults to be like them. They want -- they expect -- them to be adults, and if their interests happen to coincide, great! Adults can be friends...but when I was a teenager, there was nothing that annoyed me more about adults than trying to be too ingratiating and cool. If a library sent out a newsletter or flyers or told me when I came into the library, "Check out our MySpace!" I probably would've added them as a friend myself. The interaction would've been totally different, and I would have the freedom to decide for myself.

I thought the comment on Alternative Teen Services about getting the teens involved in the library's MySpace was a great idea -- what a great way to empower the teens and teach them and their parents about Internet safety (which has been a huge issue lately) at the same time.

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