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Clayton libraries launch new teen web site

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

After months of researching what local teenagers are interested in, and pulling it all together into one informative resource, the Clayton County Library System has launched its revamped web site for teenagers on the World Wide Web.

The web site, called "TCC -- Teens of Clayton County," went online in mid-June, said Library System Assistant Director of Youth Services Janice Arcuria.

It combines academic-related information, such as homework help, book recommendations, and part-time employment and college admissions information, with a side of "fun stuff," including links to social networking web sites.

Arcuria said library system officials hope the web site, located at www.claytonpl.org/teens/, will become a home, of sorts, on the Internet for local teenagers.

"It is our hope that teens choose to go to the web site often, for a variety of purposes," Arcuria said. "Books and reading is not the main purpose of this web site. It is there to provide information that is useful and relevant to teens."

Library system staff members have been working on re-vamping the teen site since February, according to Arcuria. She said local teenagers were asked to participate in surveys, and a focus group session, to give their input about what they wanted to see on the site.

"We looked at what the teens said they wanted, as well as things we've noticed them asking about over the years," she said.

The result of that information-gathering process is a web site that allows Clayton County teenagers to actively produce some of its content, according to Library System Virtual Services Librarian Terran McCanna. She was responsible for taking all of the feedback provided by teenagers and molding into the new web site.

McCanna said library system officials want teenagers to submit illustrations, poetry, and book reviews for inclusion on the web site. User-generated content is something teenagers, who responded to the library system's survey, said they wanted to see on the web site.

"They really wanted to feel that there was some sort of method for allowing them to contribute to the environment of the web site, and make them feel like a part of it," McCanna said.

Among the other features of the new site, is the ability for the user to personalize it by being able to choose between 14 backdrops for the site. There are also buttons that can be clicked that will take users to Dictionary.com, the "Yahoo! Babel Fish" language translation web site, Google Maps, and an online calculator. Upcoming, teen-oriented events are also announced in the main window of the site.

A job and college section provides teenagers with links to other web sites, such as one for he Georgia Department of Human Services' Georgia Teen Work program, military academies, and the local college application information web site, Georgiacollege411.org.

In a "Books 4 Teens" section, teenagers can find book recommendations that are listed by categories, such as "Classic Literature," "Award-Winners," "Best-Seller Lists," "Manga/Anime/Graphic Novels," and "Book Reviews by Clayton County Teens."

Other sections of the site, offer information about learning to drive a vehicle, leadership training opportunities, online safety, financial information, emergency information, world news, local recreation centers, movies, music, sports, fashion, and online gaming.

McCanna said she has not gotten a lot of feedback from teenagers about the web site since it went live on the Internet, other than a few comments from first-time users. She said the feedback she has gotten, however, has been positive.

"It's mostly things like, 'This is cool,'" she said.