I Found it on the Internet: Coming of Age Online 2nd Edition. Frances Jacobson Harris, ALA Editions, 2010.
Reviewed by Carrie Allmendinger
Harris begins with the fact that many libraries have policies and procedures that prevent the assistance or provision of proper services to teens. One example is libraries closing for a couple hours just as school ends, in order to keep large groups of teens out of the library. This serves as a reminder that teen services are still a relatively new idea in some libraries and can be a challenge in others. Harris follows this scenario with suggestions of how to welcome and support teens in the library beyond just a digital presence.
The Library of Congress is criticized for the lack of appropriate subject headings for teens and the slow change in existing subject headings when they are found inadequate. She points out that a great deal of information-gathering is social based sharing and communication. This is where subject headings and next-generation cataloging comparisons could have been discussed more in depth. Harris briefly mentions next-generation cataloging, and how some headings made by users can work better than standard headings, but does not go into detail about how popular catalog interfaces work, or do not work, for teens.
There is discussion on how teens use technology such as cellphone cameras and social media; reminding readers that teens will find alternative uses for technology apart from their original intent. It is impressive how patrons think of ways to utilize technology within the library, but readers are reminded that even in the digital-native generation, not every teen is an expert. There are similarities with patrons wanting to use their smartphones as their library barcodes.
Harris also writes about scenarios involving web ethics and selected responses from teens about each one. This is beneficial because as we get older, we can forget what it's like to be a teen. However, the responses are not labeled, and there is no indication of age or any other demographics. This is a significant oversight, as the information could inspire further research and give the comments added value to the reader.
In the book, parents and teachers are encouraged to take a proactive rather than prohibitive approach to internet safety. However, this advice would prove more useful if actual classroom/program rules and guidelines were given by the author as examples. Teachers, school administrators, and parents are also encouraged to "practice what they preach" by using only legally obtained software and following fair-use guidelines. Harris concludes that this is difficult when teachers and parents donít understand the law or the technology, but doesnít discuss how and where one can remain current.
The bookís main purpose seems to be to inform the reader on the last decade of teen interaction with the internet. Though Harris focuses primarily on high school libraries, which this book is recommended for, there is practical information for public librarians, especially reference. It may be a useful tool for academic librarians that want to brush up on what incoming first-year students have access to in high school, and can also be a valuable bibliographic reference for information literacy classes.
Reviewed by Carrie Allmendinger, MSIS SUNY Albany; Library Resources Purchasing and Procurement Assistant, Siena College