In an attempt to bolster the library’s services for teens, I have begun to hold monthly programs exclusively for those in grades 6 through 12. Examples of programs are as follows:
- Hunger Games Party- Teens had to survive in the arena for Hunger Games-style snacks, crafts, and challenges.
- Cupcake Wars- Teens each got 3 unfrosted cupcakes, a mound of white frosting, and their choice of 3 toppings to create a book-themed cupcake in 30 minutes. Library staff chose three winners. Teens were able to eat their masterpieces at the end.
- Minute to Win It Party- Teens competed in a series of minute-long challenges. Results were hilarious.
- Anime/Manga Club- Manga-loving teens came together to discuss manga, eat snacks, make crafts, and watch manga at this recurring summer program.
- Inflation 101: Balloon Sculpting Workshop- Local business taught teens how to make balloon animals and other sculptures.
- Recycled Runway- Local business taught teens how to alter an old t-shirt to make something new and fabulous.
- Teen Crafternoons- Summer program featuring a new craft each week including duct tape, glove monsters, and yarn creatures.
- Yu-Gi-Oh Party- Local resident led Yu-Gi-Oh card tournament.
- Books & Bites- An un-book club with snacks. Teens were asked to share books they’d read and enjoyed. I booktalked some of my favorites, too.
- Teen Murder Mystery- A live-action version of the board game Clue.
When I started at my current position, there were very few things for teens. I wanted to change that. I used my prior experience working with teens in libraries and lots of research to determine what I wanted to do and how to do it. Many libraries have a teen advisory board. I knew I wanted to start one to get teens more involved in the library and to help me get a sense of what what would appeal to teens in the community. I established my goals for the group. I then created an application for membership that contained a description of what the group would do and the benefits of membership. Once the application was ready, I began to recruit members. I started by asking teens who use the library regularly. I then sent the application to teachers at the local middle school and high school and asked them to hand out applications to any teens they thought would be interested. I also took applications to school visits to talk about the summer reading program. The first meeting was in April 2014. Meetings are held once a month and have had attendance between 3 and 6 teens each time. The most recent meeting in October represented the six month anniversary of the Teen Advisory Board. There are five teens that attend somewhat regularly. My goal in the next six months is to have a core group of at least five regular members who attend five out of the next six meetings. I feel that the group has been a success. I will continue to build the membership and make the group into something that is valuable to both the library and the members.
Sometimes middle school or high school classes, homeschool groups, or groups such as Boy Scout troops would ask for a tour of the library, specifically the Teen Zone. In preparation for a school visit from a 7th grade class, I prepared a tour and short tutorial of relevant library resources. After the tutorial, students split into groups to do practice exercises and a scavenger hunt of the Teen Zone.
Click below to view the practice exercises and scavenger hunt.
Practice exercises and scavenger hunt
The following is a booktalk I did in a 9th grade classroom. The teacher asked us to talk about books that would be interesting for students in 9th grade that were reading at about a 5th grade level. My coworker and I chose 15 books to booktalk, many of which were claimed by students by the end of the class period.
By Neil Gaiman
Coraline is bored. Coraline is so bored that she’ll do anything. She and her parents have just moved into an apartment. Below them are two old ladies that are of questionable mental state. Above them is an old man who keeps talking about his circus mice. Coraline likes to go exploring, especially outside. But one day it is raining. She is so bored, that she counts all of the doors and windows in her apartment. There are 21 windows and 14 doors. Out of these 14 doors, 13 open and close like normal doors. But the fourteenth door – the big, carved, brown wooden door – is locked. She asks her mother where this door goes. Her mother tells here that it goes nowhere, and unlocks it so Coraline can see that behind the door is a brick wall. That night, though, Coraline is lying awake in her bed when she hears a “creak”. Then she sees a shadow in the hall, a black shape that looks like a person. When she turns on the light, there’s nothing there. The next day, Coraline is still bored. When her mother leaves her at home alone, Coraline decides to take another look at that mysterious door. She climbs up on a chair and takes down the key ring. There is a cold iron key that must go to that door. She listens for her mother. She’s alone, so she puts the key into the keyhole and it turns. She stops again. Still alone. She slowly turns the doorknob and opens the door. Instead of bricks, there is a dark hallway that smells like something very old. She carefully walks down the hallway, until she sees something very familiar. The carpet is the same carpet in her hallway. The wallpaper is the same is her wallpaper. The picture hanging in the hall is the same picture that hangs in her hall. She looks around, confused. She couldn’t have gotten turned around in a hallway. Then she hears someone call her name. It’s her mother – only it’s not. The person standing there looks like her mother, only her skin is white as paper, she is very tall and very thin, and her fingernails are dark red, long, curved, and very sharp. And one more thing – instead of eyes, she has big, gleaming black buttons. “Coraline, we’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”
The 411 newsletter was created for teens at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library. I created a new design for the newsletter that was recognized in the April 22, 2008 online edition of School Library Journal.
Click the link below to view the newsletter.
The 411 newsletter