Ctrl+Z: Teen Tech Mentor Program

Posted on October 28th, 2016 by chalpin in Teen Services

For the second year Teen Central has hired two Teen Tech Mentors to work in our Media Lab. The Teen Tech Mentors work during the school year for 6 hours each week. Teen Central Technology Librarians work with the Mentors to train them in a number of different software programs that are offered on Lab computers. Teen Tech Mentors will both informally teach other teens about the software and how to use it and also assist with the development of workshops for to lead more formal Lab programs.

The Teen Tech Mentors also visit other local technology centers available to youth to connect them to additional resources accessible to them and their peers. So far, Mentors have visited The Clubhouse, located in the Museum of Science and the South End Technology Center located a short walk from the Central Library on Columbus Ave. Mentors are also given the opportunity to take field trips to offices of local companies to expose them to different work environments related to education and technology. We were lucky enough to visit the LEGO Education offices, and we are looking forward to an upcoming visit to the local Facebook office.

Teen Tech Mentors will also participate in a total of six job readiness programs, such as, resume building, interview skills, and other professional panels. At the end of the Teen Tech program, Mentors will have a portfolio of the workshops they have co-developed and facilitated, highlighting the skills they have gained, as well as an updated resume. If you are interested in being a Teen Tech Mentor, keep your eyes open in spring 2017. We’ll post applications for these opportunities and hold interviews this coming May for the 2017-2018 school year.


Khalid I. and Khalid M. visiting the South End Technology Center in October.

A bit more about our current Teen Tech Mentors:

Khalid M. is an 11th grade student at Snowden International School.
Why did you want to become a Teen Tech Mentor?
     “I found the opportunity to learn how to use different software and digital media extremely enticing.”
What have you enjoyed most so far?
     “Being able to use Ableton and Adobe Photoshop as well as going the South End Technology Center and The Clubhouse.”
What software and tools in the Lab do you like to use the most?
     “I love to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as Tinkercad and 3D printing.”

Khalid I. is a 9th grade student at Boston Latin School.
Why did you want to become a Teen Tech Mentor?
     “To further my grasp on a wide variety of software and computer programs.”
What have you enjoyed most so far?
     “The training programs and applications in teaching younger students.”
What software and tools in the Lab do you like to use the most?
     “Photoshop, Illustrator, and GarageBand.”


hologram on 9-16-15 at 7.25 PM #3Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

*”Ctrl+Z” is all about fearlessly exploring technology. Look here for info about teens, technology, and having fun with new media by Catherine, Teen Technology Coordinator at Teen Central, on the fourth Friday of the month.

Old Gaming Comebacks! By Ananda, Teen Gaming Specialist

Posted on October 26th, 2016 by jsnow in Teen Services

Hi there! My name is Ananda and I am one of the new Teen Gaming Specialists! Before I get into my intake on old games, I’d like to partially introduce myself. My name, again, is Ananda (pronounced Uh-NON-DUH) and I am 14 years old. I have two younger brothers by the ages of 11 and 8 and they’ve influenced and continue to influence much of my gaming career. The thing that completely crushes my heart is to reference a game that is relatively old and have someone ask afterwards, “Is that an actual game?” or look at me as if I broke out into some foreign language. Io prendo l’italiano in scuola ( I take italian in school).

So that leads me to my title of this all: Old Gaming Comebacks!

I know very few people who actually understand any of the references I make to a game. Over the summer instead of doing summer reading or math I was too busy playing the following games:

  • Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
  • Don’t Starve
  • Minecraft
  • And tons of Batman games, etc.


Video gaming is an obsession as well as current hobby of mine that I wish to share among others. Though back to the topic, old video games. Why is it that so many of us forget the very first few games or gaming consoles to have come out? Gaming consoles such as the Atari and Gameboys have been forgotten? People have recreated poems and turned it into new pop songs, old art becomes temporary art, or the “new” fashion is vintage clothing and every girl for the months of May and June last year of 2015 would wear flower crowns? It was even a Snapchat filter! Lol. It’s okay though because people are starting to change and become more accepting. For instance, a new Skyrim game is coming out that I HIGHLY recommend to check out! The game will be released October 28th and yes, I am super excited for the release. However, while the game is yet to release try The Elder Scroll V(5): Skyrim Game difference shown above (Elder Scroll vs. Remastered) Bethesda in general I believe has some of the best games.


Overall, I’d like to say that games such as The Legends of Zelda,  Star Wars: Rebellion,  Injustice, etc. have all been forgotten and I think it’s time we bring them back. Do comment if you have any questions or see me Monday and/or Tuesday in the library.


AnandaAnanda is one of the Teen Gaming Specialists in Teen Central. Stay tuned for more posts from the Teen Gaming Specialists on video game reviews and gaming programs they will be running in Teen Central.

Hold The Popcorn!: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Posted on October 24th, 2016 by jlevins in Movies, Teen Services

miss peregrine's home for peculiar children

Packed with intense action and fascinating, otherworldly characters, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of the movies this fall that nobody should miss.

As the film begins, the audience is introduced to suburban Florida teen Jake (played brilliantly by Asa Butterfield) as he is driven to his grandfather’s house by a coworker after receiving a disturbing phone call from his grandfather. When he arrives at his grandfather’s house, he finds the inside of the house trashed and his grandfather dying outside in the woods behind the house. Jake sees a monster coming at him from the woods. His coworker is oblivious to it, but shoots at it anyway. We eventually find out that this is Jake’s “peculiarity”, the ability to see “hallows” — creatures that would do him harm.

A few months later, on the recommendation of his therapist, Jake and his father travel to a rainsoaked Welsh island to make peace with his grandfather’s death. It is there where Jake discovers Miss Peregrine and the Home for Peculiar Children. The children befriend Jake and tell him that they are living in a bizarre time loop which they must reset every day in order to avoid being bombed by the Germans during the WW2 blitzkreig.

The House for Peculiar Children is soon discovered by the evil Barron (played by living Hollywood legend Samuel L. Jackson) and his evil hallows. Jake, who realizes that he is himself a Peculiar due to his ability to perceive the hallows, must choose whether to live in the loop with his fellow Peculiars and protect them from Barron and the hallows per the wishes of Miss Peregrine (played by the fantastic Eva Green) or live in the real world.

More sensitive moviegoers will want to look away or go by some popcorn during some of the more intense scenes (especially the eyeball eating scene!), but overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is delightful for all.



animatedDo you love watching movies? The Boston Public Library has tens of thousands of DVDs you can borrow with your library card and even more that you can access online through our streaming service, Hoopla. Plus, if you can’t find a movie you want to watch in all the ones we offer, you can always suggest a purchase. Start placing holds now, and you’ll never have to pay to watch a movie again!


*”Hold the Popcorn!” features movie reviews by James, the Teen Librarian at the East Boston Branch, on the fourth Tuesday of the month.


Hack the System!: Tech Hacks for Struggling Readers

Posted on October 21st, 2016 by adowds in Technology, Teen Services
Tags: , , ,

While brainstorming ideas as to what to write this month, I stumbled upon an article in Time Magazine titled, 10 Tech Hacks to Help Struggling Readers. While most of my posts have focused on Tech Hacks that make life more fun and interesting, this article was a great reminder that technology can also hack some of life’s biggest obstacles.

Reading is a learned skill developed through a process of building upon cognitive, linguistic, and social skills acquired during our early years. Acquiring this skill can be quite frustrating, especially when the struggle crosses over into other aspects of a teen’s life, causing that teen to feel and get left behind.

Thankfully, technology has provided educators and students with accessible and cost-effective apps and assistive devices that can revolutionize literacy proficiency. With these tools, reading and writing may still be difficult, but it’s not impossible. How? Hack the System! There may be endless apps and gadgets available, but check out the four options below, catch up on some reading, and impress your friends with the latest Tech Hack!

vdr1. Voice Dream Reader — Voice Dream Reader is designed for people with dyslexia, visually impaired, and other learning styles. Filled with 186 voices and 30 different languages, this app can read content from almost anything and anywhere — pdfs, books, Word, websites, PDFs, and Dropbox. Readers can customize their experience by changing fonts, voice speed, highlight and take notes, or set a sleep timer. As the company’s site said, choose your instrument and turn text into speech.



2. Read2GoRead2Go is a mobile reading app that pairs with Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of read2goebooks for readers with print disabilities. By downloading Read2Go, teens can read anywhere, anytime straight from their mobile device.  Read2Go also can connect via Bluetooth to Braille readers. The customization features are similar to the Voice Dream Reader, allowing teens to experience books their own way.




3.  Audiobooks — Sometimes you just need to take a break from the printed book and let someone else do all the reading! Audiobook devices such as Playaway Bookpacks combine the easy-to-use and transportable Playaway device with the book’s printed version. Bookpacks are one of the easiest ways for struggling and emerging readers to practice and develop literacy skills. Choose from classics like The Outsiders or best-sellers such as The Book Thief. Playaways can be a bit pricey, but audiobooks are FREE at your Library!



blio-24. BlioBlio is a free app designed for iPhones and iPads. The app displays in full color, with colorful fonts, pictures, and engaging layouts. Many of the books can be read aloud by a text-to-speech voice (purchase required) or audiobook, with words highlighted as they are spoken. Blio is a joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies and the National Federation of the Blind. The expertise from these two partners has created an app that is unique in its ability to help those with reading disabilities make sense of the text through synchronized highlighting and a serial presentation view. As the company’s motto states, “Don’t just read books. Experience them.”



allyDid you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to audiobooks through Bibliocommons, Hoopla, and Overdrive. To learn more about how to download audiobooks to a device, visit the library’s eBook & Digital Media page. To browse books on CD, search for titles and authors in the BPL catalog and select “Audiobook CD” under format. Or, ask a Librarian!

Want to create your own technology life hack? Stop by Teen Central during Open Lab time.

“Hack the System!” features examples of technology life hacks created by Ally, the Youth Technology Librarian at Teen Central. Check back on the third Friday of each month for her latest post.

Back in Time Video Game Review: Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

Posted on October 17th, 2016 by jsnow in Teen Services

Hello! My name is Jorge, and I am your typical gamer. I grew up playing games from sports games, strategic games, shooters, open world classics, and many more. With that said, let’s talk about one of the throwbacks. And by that, I mean Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. Hands down a classic. Now, for all you newcomers to the gaming community, don’t expect any “superb graphics” or anything of that sort. This game was released on October 29th, 2001, so it isn’t up to par (in terms of graphics) with anything on the market now. But man, was this story line on point.

It starts off with Cortex insulting his group of pawns, “Imbeciles! Nincompoops! Can’t you idiots do anything right?!” In this opening part of the game, Dr. Cortex is at a round table, infuriated that his attempted reign of evil is cut short by Crash time and time again. So, they come up with a plan to use their secret weapon of “unbelievable strength”, to defeat crash once and for all. I’m really into this part of the story line because it cuts right to the chase. There’s no backstory, no interruptions, therefore no nonsense.

I also really enjoy the fact that this game allows you to take part in many different obstacle courses, races, open world missions, submarine missions, and these missions will repeat, but the environment and the difficulty will change in order to keep that from being a problem. Oh yeah, there are LOTS of cut scenes.

But anyways, this game is one that I would really recommend (if you still own a PS2). Trust me, it is really fun and will have you starting at your TV for hours. 



img_0752Jorge is one of the Teen Gaming Specialists in Teen Central. Stay tuned for more posts from the Teen Gaming Specialists on video game reviews and gaming programs they will be running in Teen Central.