My library is extremely busy during the summer. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can keep our patrons this engaged with the library all year long. In a way, summer is easy. Although our teens have vacations and other summer activities, they also have a lot more down time than during the school year. They love air conditioning (don’t we all!) and having a free place to hang out. Programs in the summer fill up fast, and they are a popular way for teens to spend their time.
However, during the school year, many teens are overscheduled and overbooked. Even if a program looks interesting to a teen, many don’t have the time to carve an hour out of their day to come to a program. How can we keep teens excited about coming to the library, even if they don’t have time to pencil us in to their busy schedules? One idea I’d like to try out more is passive programming.
According to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), passive programming, “promotes the library and its materials and services without providing a formal program at a specific time or date.” Passive programs are informal and allow for teens to complete the program at their own pace and on their own schedule.
In January my library system had a “Valentines for Veterans” table at each of our branches. Patrons could create Valentine’s Day cards—there was paper, glue sticks, cut out shapes appropriate for Valentine’s Day, markers, stickers, and more. It was wildly successful. People of all ages enjoyed getting to take time to make a card for a veteran—some people spent 2 minutes, some people spent 20, but we had an overwhelmingly positive response.
Although this program wasn’t geared specifically at teens, the teens at my branch enjoyed it immensely. It gave them a break to do something fun and it didn’t take a lot of time. I like the idea of having more passive programs, in addition to normal programming, throughout the year to engage more teen patrons. The TSLAC suggests many other great passive programs you can do: writing a story using prompts, book swap shelf, scavenger hunts, and video reviews.
Have you tried passive programming at your library? What passive program ideas can you share?