Those who know me know I used to work at the State Library of Victoria, so you can understand my interest in the State Library's Centre for Youth Literature teenage reading portal called Inside a Dog.
Founded in 1991, and located at the State Library of Victoria since 1999, the Centre for Youth Literature is one of those hard working vital institutions that make Melbourne such an exciting and literary place. The Centre and its many activities also helped underpin Melbourne's success at being recognised as the second City of Literature as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.
But back to Inside a Dog. This has become Australia's number one website about books for teenagers. According to the io2009 presentation Inside a Dog also has a significant global audience. "It promotes Australian and international young adult literature in a language (and format) that young people understand. It features news, book reviews, a writer-in-residence blog, author interviews, links, competitions and lots of opportunity for contributions from young readers."
The success behind Inside a Dog is that it:
A. Lets its audience take some control. While the content is monitored for inappropriate use, Inside a Dog encourages it's audience to be creative.
B. It provides lots of opportunities for its audience to participate. They can blog. For example, they can blog about books they like and don't like, though I must admit the number of blog posts seem a bit low. Maybe in the summer school holidays things go a bit quite. The target audience can also participate in competitions, surveys, check out featured books, grab downloads, and engage online with a writer in residence.
The Inside a Dog presentation at Information Online was uplifting and positive, and demonstrates what is possible when the target audience is allowed to run with something. In this case it is a strategy that has worked. Inside a Dog should also to be congratulated for encouraging teenagers to read.
In case you are wondering where the name Inside a Dog comes from, well apparently Groucho Marx once said "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog it is too dark to read."
Click here for a copy of my notes with a podcast of the Inside a Dog presentation.
Bloggers don't appear to be saying anything about the Inside a Dog presentation. Pity, it was a good presentation.
Click here [PDF file] to access Linda Angeloni and Lili Wilkinson Information Online 2009 paper titled "Engaging Students Online at the State Library of Victoria".