From the Trenches of #TRW12

What better way to talk about Teen Read Week than to talk to a teen librarian that is hosting several programs throughout the week!! Check out what Natalie Couch from the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries  in Georgia is doing….

Tell us about your Teen Read Week Programming?
My library system is focusing on zombies and other horror/thriller/paranormal themes for this year’s Teen Read Week. We are hosting the followings programs at various branches: Horror Movie Makeover Workshop, Zombie Prom, and Zombie Apocalypse Survival 101. For the Horror Movie Makeover Workshop a theater major from the local university will be demonstrating grotesque special effects techniques such as scars, cuts and bruises, bullet wounds, and the general look of the “undead.” We’ll give out cheap makeup kits as door prizes.

Our teens absolutely loved the photo booth idea we had at our final Summer Reading Program party, so we are making another one for Zombie Prom. My husband, an artist, has been recruited to create a zombie cardboard cutout for teens to pose with. We will email the images out to the teens after the program. Zombie Prom will also include gory—yet still edible—food, games, and music. The library is encouraging the teens to come dressed up as a zombie or their favorite literary character. The Horror Movie Makeover Workshop is scheduled to occur about a week before the Prom so teens can try the makeup techniques on their own.

Lastly, some of our staff are hosting a Zombie Apocalypse Survival 101 class where they will learn how to survive in worse case scenarios. All I have to say about this program is that Twinkies are key to both program attendance and survival in case of a zombie apocalypse! All three of these programs expand our teens’ minds: teens will learn real world survival skills, go to a prom where they all feel welcome and without pressure to conform, and be exposed to an unusual art form that pushes one’s imagination.

As one of the ten recipients of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation grants through YALSA, how has that award impacted your programming?
The grant from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has been invaluable to our Teen Read Week programming. We might have been able to run all of these programs without the funding, but the scale would have been much less impressive. The grant has also offset costs which is allowing for us to run more engaging programs throughout the entire school year. Several of our branches are struggling to get teens interested in using the library as more than a place to jump onto the computers. With little programming funding for the school year, we often resort to inexpensive programs like video gaming and movies. These programs are fine but they do not inspire creativity or provide teens with an experience that they cannot receive from any other place.

What advice do you have for other teen services librarians who want to celebrate Teen Read Week?
Planning is the most important step. I began thinking about Teen Read Week months ago and I still occasionally wake up in the morning panicked thinking about something that I haven’t done yet. It was also vital to check the local events calendar before we planned programs. The tail end of TRW is the weekend that our city hosts an autumn fair. If we ran any programming during this weekend we would be staring at an empty room. Get teen input. I am a young librarian but even at my age I feel out of touch with our teens sometimes. Dark suspenseful paranormal fiction, thriller/mysteries, and the Cirque de Freak series have been flying off our shelves the entire year. YALSA knew what they were doing with the theme this year so it was only appropriate for us to jump on board!

What’s the best thing about Teen Read Week?
The best thing about Teen Read Week is that YALSA’s themes prompt you to consider programming that you wouldn’t normally run, but at the same time the themes are so open to interpretation that you could spin your programming idea into another less obvious direction if it better suited the needs and interests of your demographics. In addition, it’s simply great to have an excuse to celebrate reading and show the teen population that libraries are here for them.

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These are some awesome and creative ideas. Thanks for sharing Natalie!

Stacy Vandever-Wells, Teen Read Week Committee

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