By Crystal Phillips, Cook Public Library
Teenagers Assemble! How We Revitalized Our Teen Program with a little help from the Avengers with Paul Daybell, Chelsey Hawkes, Adam Winger and Talysa Brimley
Two years ago, the staff at North Logan City Library in Utah knew their teen program was struggling. The library offered six teen programs a year with an average participation between 7-9 kids. So, what did the staff do? They bought $400 worth of Nerf guns and ammunition and hosted a Humans vs. Zombies party inside the library. Twenty-five teens showed up.
Bolstered by this successful event, the library started to host events like Movie Makeup Magic and Hunger Games movies night to keep teens interested. Once they got kids coming, they started asking the teens to bring their friends and ideas. It was important to staff that the library offer what teens were interested in. Library director Adam Winger commented, “Learning happens no matter what. Find what they like and do it for them.”
The library decided to offer weekly after-hour programming specifically for teens. This gave the kids a sense of place and eliminated the potential disruption to other library patrons. While there is a quarterly movie night, many of the programs like Jeopardy, trivia and game nights are done on a smaller scale.
The library formed a teen advisory board to come up with programming ideas and special events. Interested teens are required to fill out an application and are written letters of acceptance. The current teen advisory board has 21 members. Meetings are held once a month. Advisory board members are responsible for choosing the Thursday night teen programs, for volunteering during Maker Saturdays and for hosting the teen book club. The volunteer experience is rewarding for the teens and beneficial when filling out resumes, scholarship forms and college applications.
The big teen event for each of the past two years has been the Lock-in/Marvel movie event. Teens have to earn points from January to May in order to participate. Points can be earned through various activities from serving on the advisory board to volunteering at an event to hosting a book club to checking out books. Those who earn 100 points or more are invited to a private Marvel movie screening, dinner and a library sleepover exclusively for teens. Parents are required to sign consent forms and to sign kids in and out of the event. In 2015, 40 teens saw Avengers: Age of Ultron and in 2016, 60 teens saw Captain America: Civil War.
North Logan City Library Staff Pointers:
Trust your teens—listen to them and don’t question what they are proposing. They will own their ideas and be responsible if you trust them. Realize that accidents can and will happen inside the library. Get dirty with them and play with them. Find staff who can have fun and be available to connect with teens.
Funding—the library receives no funding for teen programming. The library reuses resources and finds community partners who benefit from a teen audience. The library also seeks out grants.
Scheduling—pick the best time for most. Realize that there will be ebbs and flows of participation during the year as activities and schedules change.
See Teens as Allies—they increase circulation, increase library visits, increase the use of library resources, increase the number of volunteers and bring others into the library (family and friends). Teens can tell library stakeholders how much the library and programs mean to them.
Advertise—Email list, word of mouth, flyers, school librarian, newspapers and social media.
For more information about the North Logan City Library, visit their website