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Houston Public Library and Social Media

April 20th, 2011 by CarlyEyler

The Houston Public Library (HPL) uses a variety of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, and a blog to enhance the way they are able to interact with the Houston community. This use of Facebook and Twitter allow library users who participate in these social forums to be regularly updated about important library information and resources such as library hours, events, and workshops. These tools make it so library users can obtain information about the library and learn about services without necessarily going to HPL’s homepage. HPL also uses Youtube to broadcast recordings of author visits, story times, events, workshops and tutorials and Flickr to display images of these events and workshops. This use of social media is important because it keeps anarchive of library services that can be accessed at a later date and it allows those who could not participate in the events and workshops in person the opportunity to benefit from these services. All of these social media tools support the library’s online presence and allow library users to stay informed about services and resources in a variety of ways outside the library walls.

To view HPL’s Youtube videos, Flickr photos, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter page, go to this link:

The YouthLearn Initiative

April 19th, 2011 by SkylaHearn

The YouthLearn Initiative consists of a comprehensive website, a growing online community, a free electronic newsletter, and an extensive manual called The YouthLearn Guide. The YouthLearn Initiative meets the needs of providing after school instructors and classroom teachers with creative materials for use with technology, media and project-based programs.

In 2001, the Morino Institute and the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) entered into a strategic partnership to help ensure the long-term growth and advancement of the YouthLearn Initiative. The Education Development Center, Inc. now champions YouthLearn as a national center of excellence on youth, learning, and technology anchored around the original Initiative’s approach.

The following youth programs are examples of the many programs that can be found on the YouthLearn Initiative website at in addition to other resources.

Appalachian Media Institute (AMI)

“In 1988, Appalshop staff members founded the Appalachian Media Institute (AMI), a media training program for central Appalachian youth.  Using the technological and artistic resources of Appalshop, AMI helps young people explore how media production skills can be used to ask, and begin to answer, critical questions of themselves and their communities.”


AMI Strives To:

  • Build the confidence levels and creative capacity of central Appalachian youth
  • Position youth from central Appalachia as initiators of dialogue and social action around crucial community issues
  • Highlight rural voices and to inform national audiences and diverse communities of the unique challenges that face rural Appalachian communities
  • Enable our participants to become informed, tolerant, and engaged citizens and to recognize the interconnections between central Appalachia and the rest of the world


Please visit the Appalachian Media Institute (AMI) at and the Appalshop at


Global Youth at Video Machete

Unfortunately, Global Youth at Video Machete, is no longer operable but provides an excellent example of many of the urban youth programs that are currently functioning in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. Video Machete’s Global Youth program gave inner-city immigrant youth the opportunity to tell their stories and give voice to their experiences through video. The Chicago-based Video Machete also created a kit of resources for other media educators and schoolteachers interested in using media and community engagement as teaching tools. Video Machete was an inter-generational collective of activists, students, and media artists who are committed to cultivating images, ideas, and words that transform our communities, raise consciousness, and generate collective analysis and action.

Global Youth at Video Machete was very similar to the programs taking place at the AMI. There are other similar initiatives in Chicago that allow youth to utilize technology as digital and social media tools for civic and community engagement.

Stones for Schools: effective community engagement using social media

April 18th, 2011 by Debra DeJonker-Berry

This post describes an  illustration of a digital/social media site that tells the story of a community: an example of total civic engagement using as many available tools as possible.

The story and community  is the one told by Greg Mortensen and the Central Asia Institute in Three Cups of Tea and Stones for School.  Mortensen’s story, much more than a story about finding ways to build schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is exemplary in that Mr. Mortensen teaches us how important it is to listen to a community when trying to help, and, after listening, to evolve and adapt strategies and practices in order to develop and achieve shared goals.

Mortensen, though his books, lecture tours and web-site, has inspired the entire country if not the world.  He uses social/media sites effectively in many ways, including being very firm and clear about his goal (to raise funds and not enlist volunteers) and to continually create a buzz (and raise funds) by engaging directly with some of his community (his readers) through tours.

Mortensen uses social media tools effectively in video and Twitter but interestingly enough not Facebook).

How might Mortensen’s style of engagement compare to Jane Addams’ Hull House?  Will Mortensen’s methods one day be as seriously studied and modeled in civic engagement circles as Addams?

April 17th, 2011 by hrush is a really helpful resource for understanding hot topics, hearing about current trends, finding guides, etc., in the realms of social media, digital media, technology, and Web culture.

Here are a few examples of articles that you might find useful on

10 Tips for Posting on Your Brand’s Facebook Page

10 Rules for Increasing Community Engagement

Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week

This is updated weekly and explains what the majority of Twitter users were talking about. It also offers background/context about the most-tweeted topics instead of merely listing them.

Here are examples of social media tutorials on Mashable:

The Facebook Guide Book

The Twitter Guide Book

And if you are on Facebook and want to stay up-to-date with Mashable’s current articles, you can “Like” them on Facebook so their posts appear in your newsfeed.

“Mashable–Social Media” on Facebook (Note: Mashable has other categories you can like on Facebook, such as “Mashable – Web Video”)

Kickstarter toolkit

April 17th, 2011 by llevant

Kickstarter is a “crowdfunding” website that displays opportunities for those interested in supporting independent artists in their creative pursuits (including film, visual arts, food, technology and most anything).

It is a “threshold pledge system” which means that artists post a revenue goal and time deadline to fund their project. If the goal is not achieved within the prescribed time, the funds are not collected.  Kickstarter maintains the site by taking 5% of all funds raised. Transactions are facilitated through Amazon, so they take another 2%. Everything else goes directly to the artists. Monies raised are not investments, giving artists 100% control of their work.

Projects are sorted by location and by type, so you are able to easily support projects that are community-based. Currently funded projects are available for viewing; providing a wide selection of very cool projects.

Here’s what Kickstarter says about its funding all-or-nothing approach:

“On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. This way, no one is expected to develop a project with an insufficient budget. Remember you set your own funding goal, so aim to raise the minimum amount you’ll need to create your vision. Projects can always raise more than their goal, and often do.”

This site is getting a lot of attention. It engages a web-based community of art supporters to review projects that would never be known otherwise. It raises capital for small but unique projects, potentially contributing to the intellectual and artistic sense of communities.

If you haven’t already, check it out: