Teen Tech Week: Self-Directed Contests

I am completely in love with self-directed contests. Also known as passive programming (which always leads my superiors to think that there is NO thought or work involved at all, which is not true), these self-directed contests get teens involved because they are:

  • drawn into the library by the contest itself
  • ask the staff questions about the contest and about the items in the contest
  • use math and logic skills to figure out the answer
  • promote the contest to their friends

Even better, while they do take imagination and ground work, like all self-directed programming once they’re put together and set-up they take little or no staff watching, aside from the interaction with teens! My contests run on average for 2 weeks (some less) and generate on average between 25 and 40 entries. Continue reading

Maker March: I Craft, Therefore I Make

If a self-proclaimed Crafter (no I am not talking about Minecraft here) and a self-proclaimed Maker were put opposite each other in a cage fight, who would win? Are they equals? The same thing? What makes them different? Either way, they would certainly have the coolest wrestling masks ever! But I digress. Crafting and making are the essentially the same thing. They share the same basic DIY tenet, as well as the sharing ideas and how to’s, reusing, “up-cycling” or repurposing anything and everything. And both are made all the better if you can create using low cost, free or scavenged materials. Continue reading

TTW: Start with What You’ve Got

Feel less than tech savvy? Concerned that you are not techie enough to pull off a Teen Tech week program? Well, don’t be! While it is fantastic to have the double bonus of offering coding or robotics during Teen Tech Week (March 9-15) the reality is that many of us do not have the skills, budgets, the time or the passion to learn them.  Remember the foundation of Teen Tech Week is to promote our library’s digital offerings. Additionally it is more than likely that you have more digital skills than you give yourself credit for. And if you don’t have those skills you can probably get a teen to help you work out some of the kinks.   Continue reading

Maker March: Are You Already Making @ Your Library?

Everyone is talking about Makerspaces. When I say “Makerspace” do you immediately think of a room filled with laser cutters, 3D printers, and teens creating giant programmable robots capable of restacking meeting room chairs? Probably, although the robots may just be me.

The reality for most libraries is that we don’t have a dedicated space in which to make stuff. But we do have the capability to encourage making at our libraries. Making means learning through trial and error, through practical application, and through hands-on experience. Making means giving access to communities to grow and create something better. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Florida

Florida and the Future

From Pensacola to Key West, teens are finding the doors are wide open in Public Libraries. Teen groups are creating opportunities, not only to learn, but also to enjoy the company of old and new friends. So let’s take a tour, shall we?florida

Miami-Dade Public Library System, after facing a major financial challenge, still finds opportunities for teens with gaming, photography classes, and creative programs such as Sound Art and specialty Open Mic events. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: New Jersey

Making a Difference in the Garden State

The Teen Advisory Board (TAB) of the Montclair Public Library has come a long way since its inception. This group of teens has sought to create a welcoming environment, not merely for themselves but for children and adults as well. new-jerseyThey have implemented successful programs such as a Wii & Board Games day and Minecraft; during which they invite people of all ages to interact and play together. TAB is also a strong advocate of literacy, especially at an early age; so much so, that they host various events such as a Fairy Tale pajama story time, Star Wars Reads Day, as well as a book buddies program in celebration of Read Across America. In addition, TAB has created and maintained their very own bi-monthly newsletter called, The TAB Chronicle. This has proven to be a great outlet for the group to share their thoughts and talents through their poetry, artwork, and opinion pieces. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Indiana

The Foundation – a Teen Space

Indiana has some pretty terrific teen spaces and spaces that have broken the typical library mold and branched out, so to speak, on their own.  One library, located in the small community of South Whitley, has purchased a whole house for their teen department to use as a program space.  indianaShannon Langmaid, the Youth Services Librarian at South Whitley, tells the story:  Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Rhode Island

Coincidentally and fortunately, both of Rhode Island’s contributors decided to share how they are staying in touch with teens to develop popular programs, create welcoming teen spaces, and build relationships. In that same spirit, “hi” from all of us in the Ocean State!sic-rhode-island

Where everyone knows your name: Back to Basics in Teen Services

When I see a young adult in the library whom I don’t know, I go up and introduce myself. It’s such a simple step that it can be easy to overlook! Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Delaware, Part 2

Teen programming at the County and branch level

In the New Castle County Delaware Library System, successful teen programming tends to focus on the practical preparation for challenges teens will soon face. We host two annual series of workshops at multiple branches, one on applying for scholarships for college, and one on volunteering. The teen volunteering presentations culminate in a large Volunteer Fair at one of the branches, to which we invite local and national non-profits who accept teen help. Many NCC branch libraries use teens to staff the popular Summer Reading Club, as well as to help out throughout the year. For most of the teens, volunteering is their first exposure to a professional workplace.delaware

On the individual branch level we have more recreational programs. The Teen Doctor Who Club at the Brandywine Hundred Library, which was began as a summer program last year, has been so popular that we just keep having it! Teens from different schools have met and formed friendships based on a common love of the mad man in the blue box. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Pennsylvania

Last spring, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) sponsored a literacy program at the Community Library of Allegheny Valley (CLAV) in Natrona Heights, PA, called Teen Reading Lounge (TRL).  PHC developed TRL to be a resource for public libraries interested in engaging teens in the humanities through the reading and discussion of popular YA fiction and creative experiences. Like many of the libraries participating in the program, CLAV was hoping to kick-start something long-lasting with TRL.pennsylvania

To launch the program at CLAV, Young Adult Librarian, Susan Wilson connected with a local educator, Dr. Sandra Reidmiller. Sandy and Susan capitalized on their respective experiences and individual strengths to create a program that would resonate with teens.  Sandy said, “Teens were able to “unplug” and meet face-to-face to discuss contemporary young adult literature and the current issues.  We selected books like The Hunger Games that had wide appeal in order to launch the program.” Continue reading