Digital Media, Youth, and YouTube in Libraries

In modern times, digital media plays a big role in the educational and social lives of youths.  In the article Digital Youth, Libraries, and New Media Literacy, Tripp writes that digital media is used in three main ways by the younger generations: hanging out, messing around, and geeking out.  Hanging out is the younger person’s social experience through digital media.  Much importance is given to social networking and an increasing amount of people depend media to create and maintain social relationships.  Thus, access to media is important for the social life and development of the youth of today.

Messing around represents young people pursuing self-directed interests, such as browsing online, playing games, and creating their own content.  While this may seem trivial, messing around is can be a fundamental part of leaning and becoming more engaged in the technical aspects of media.  Tripp gives the example of a boy watching YouTube videos and becoming inspired to make videos of his own.  Geeking out is an even deeper level of media involvement, wherein a person creates their own content, like fanfiction, YouTube videos, or a blog.  This person is then seeking out new ways to improve their skills and learn more about their craft.

This is relevant to library and information professionals because libraries are an important resource for connecting young people with computers and technology.  Tripp mentions in the article that in one study, over half of the nation’s 14 to 18-year-olds reported using a computer in a library, while another study showed that 61% of young adults in household below the poverty line used library computer for educational purposes.  Since libraries are such an important part of young people’s connection to digital media, it is important that libraries invent new strategies to make young people feel welcome, and to inspire them to become more involved in both the library and the digital community.

This is where YouTube comes in.  What most people don’t realize is that YouTube is not just a place to watch viral videos, tv show clips, and music videos.  It is actually a community of creators and fans.  People make video series about anything and anything, and they get constant feedback from people all over the world.

YouTube would be the perfect place for young people to have their voices heard.  A club at the public library where they get to work together and create videos would be a popular idea.  It wouldnt be an overly expensive idea either.  A single video camera could be purchased, and most PCs now come with a pre-installed Windows Movie Maker.  With these tools, the library could help young people feel important and involved while also promoting the library on the internet.

There are two different YouTube series that I think could serve as good models for this type of program.  The first is TheFineBros “React” series, in which kids and teens first watch a video and then are asked questions about what they thought about it.  Instead of videos, this could be a type of book club, in which young people read a specific book and then are asked questions.  The second is “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in vlog form.  While not as ambitious as LBD, the idea here would be that the young people would write short scripts adapting scenes from book that would then be acted out by them and posted on YouTube.

Overall, I think that YouTube is often forgotten as a social media, but it could be a good way to promote the library and make younger patrons excited about their local library.


Tripp, L. (2011). Digital youth, libraries, and new media. The Reference Librarian, 52(4), 329-341.


Teens React to The Hunger Games Trailer —

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Episode 1 —


One thought on “Digital Media, Youth, and YouTube in Libraries

  1. Lori

    Agreed…teens having the resources and creating their own book responses or trailers is a great way to engage their attention, interests, and skills while also helping them to reflect on what they’ve read and express their own views. Nothings gets a teen reading like another teen talking about a book, certainly more than a teacher or librarian. Thanks for sharing.


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