We have tons of wonderful resources at our fingertips to create an awesome environment for our teens. Maybe you’re chatting with others about what they’re doing for the Hunger Games release, or you’re scanning Pinterest for new craft ideas. You hear people talking about how such-and-such program was a huge hit, and you think, “I’ve got to try that. My teens will love it.” So you spend time and money planning this sure-fire program, or maybe you’re creating your own Teen Space so they have a place in the library that’s theirs, and the time has come for the big program, the big reveal … and no one comes.
We don’t get a lot of teens at my branch year-round. They come in the summer, and teen programs at my branch during the summer are a lot more successful than other times of the year. Summer, though, is not nearly long enough for everything we wish we could do with our teens, and other times of the year are hit-or-miss, emphasis on the miss. The last teen program we had, no one but two middle-schoolers came, and while we didn’t turn them away, everything we had planned kind of went out the window. Summer aside, this happens time and time again, so we’ve cut our teen programming to once a quarter, which we know sucks, but with one librarian for birth to 18, it’s hard to justify spending more time and money on programs that are constantly unsuccessful.
But we keep trying. Different programs at different times on different days of the week. These kids are busy, and we have to compete for their attention. We keep trying to cultivate relationships with the teens we see during the summer to get them coming back the rest of the year. Our YA collection is fairly awesome, and our circs are good. We know that what works even at a different branch may not work for us. We go back to old programs that flopped years ago because it might work for this group of teens. And even if no one comes to the mini-Ren Faire we have coming up, I’m still dressing up, even if I have to joust with my co-workers. If teens are scarce in your library, leave a message in the comments with what you’re doing to draw them in.