An amazing way to get your tweens and teens to know the “unfamiliar” bits of your library is to do self-directed scavenger hunts. You know that your “kids” tend to congregate to one particular area- whether it’s your teen space, a place with the most comfortable chairs or a low table for card gaming, or the place furthest away from the supervising eyes of the non-teen people at the desk. And while they’ll know where to find the YA books, MAD Magazine and Alternative Press, and manga, do they know where to find non-fiction books for reports? Or how to operate one of the databases? If you become devious and take a little time out of your day, you can take a theme and turn a lesson in the library world into a creative self-directed program that will make them want to participate.
Scavenger hunts can be as intricate or as simple as you want them to be. Think about your current teens and the browsers that you have. What do they like, what things grab them? Do you have a program coming up that you could use this program as a gateway, like a Lego or Rainbow Loom makerspace? Are your teens gearing up for state tests or are you starting to build up for summer? Are you celebrating Free Comic Book Day or Star Wars Day or any of the newer movie releases? Take any of those and create silhouettes or in-house graphics to place around the library- depending on the length you decide your program will be (a day, a week) they can be printed on normal printer paper or card-stock, but they don’t have to last long.
Or, like I did for Teen Tech Week this year, take a page from Gwyneth Jones (http://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2012/05/qr-code-quest-scavenger-hunt-part-deux.html), The Daring Librarian, and go with a QR scavenger hunt! Instead of characters and pictures, make your hunt virtual and hide QR codes around the library for teens to scan and learn. I used ours to introduce our new Ipad and tablets to our tweens and teens.
Once you have your theme, decide on the length of the hunt. I typically have used 8-10, depending on the size of the library, but you may want to go larger or smaller. Remember your audience- you don’t want them to completely zone out, but you don’t want them to think it’s a “baby” thing, either. Questions I’ve used before have been:
Nicely, introduce yourself to a staff member you’ve never met before, and get their initials. (with a picture of the Mad Hatter Tea Party on the reference desk)
Horror is a sub-genre of our fiction section, and Carrie is based on a book by this author. Find the author and the book and find your next clue.
So get creative and then sit back and watch the fun!
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 →
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 →
If you’re still looking for ways to celebrate Teen Tech Week, consider a “Judge a Book by its Cover” contest. For the contest, teens redesign covers of their favorite books. At my library, we give winners a brand new copy of their book with their remixed cover.
Libraries looking for ways to harness the DIY ethic for Teen Tech Week can run this contest by eschewing pencils and paper. Photography, digital cartooning, 3D modeling, desktop publishing— not only are a wide range of tools available, but often teens are itching for a chance to play with them. Contests like this always get more traction if you can work together with a teacher or school. If the teens can get extra credit by working in their school computer lab or design class, so much the better. However, if access to those expensive Creative Suite programs isn’t that easy, there are excellent alternatives that are open source and library-friendly. Continue reading →
I’ve wanted to host a Minecraft program at my library ever since I began working there last August. I mentioned the idea to our teens and quickly saw that there was a captive audience for it. Minecraft is the epitome of this year’s YALSA presidential theme; with this game you can connect with your teen patrons, encourage them to collaborate, and create amazing things within the game! When Teen Tech Week came along, it felt like the perfect opportunity to test out a Minecraft program.
Working in a small library with limited resources, I knew there would be obstacles to overcome. We have eight public computers that are positioned directly in the center of the library and do not have a separate room for a teen space. Our lack of computers limited the number of potential participants right from the start since I knew I wouldn’t be able to use all of the computers. We also share a network with the other libraries in our consortium so I knew that hosting a server would be complicated.
I was also worried that my Minecraft skills were not up to par. I know a lot about the game, but I have to confess that I don’t really play….at all. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to monitor the players in a way that would work for everyone. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to help players who got stuck. I worried that something would go wrong with the game, and I wouldn’t be able to fix it.
Even with all these obstacles, without a budget, and without much technical know-how, I was able to pull off a successful Minecraft program at my public library…and you can, too!
As we near the end of Teen Tech Week, librarians will begin to evaluate their programs. Experiencing and learning about library programs in action during this week is always a great reminder about how important technological literacy is for teens and how beneficial hands-on experiences can be for them. This year three things have stood out to me during TTW:
While it has been said before, it is worth saying again, that Tech Week is really a year-round event. The programs we create during TTW are great to bring awareness to library technology and information, but they are also jumping-off points for teen services librarians to continue similar programs for the rest of the year.
Collaboration is more important than ever. As technology moves forward and evolves, learning from each other helps everyone create relevant and necessary programs for teens. Luckily, there are numerous sources to keep you up-to-date, including great information from YALSA.
Speaking of change, the move to provide active, hands-on learning experiences is upon us! This has really always been our charge, but it has been accelerated with the focus on things like maker spaces and the emphasis on mentoring teens as they become digital creators, not just media consumers.
I hope everyone’s Teen Tech Week was amazing and look forward to a year of new and exciting things to learn!
A weekly short list of tweets that librarians and the teens that they serve may find interesting.
Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between March 8 and February 14 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter. Continue reading →
Wanna get involved in YALSA right now? YALSA needs your help! We’re looking for expert programmers, Teen Read Week gurus, Teen Tech Week geniuses, Road Trip afficionados, Common Core Standards experts and more!
Based on Board decisions at the 2013 Midwinter Conference, I’ll be making appointments to the following Super! Awesome! Taskforces! All you have to do is complete the volunteer form. Continue reading →
Platform: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later
Slender-man is a game created in July of 2012 based on the legend of the Slender-man, who is known to only be seen by children just before he reaches out and grabs them. This game has developed a cult following of teens and tweens everywhere and in particular, at my library. I was first introduced to this game over the summer when I noticed a group of kids playing it on a computer. Suddenly, they all jumped back and screamed. As the screen went fuzzy, an image of a thin man’s face appeared on the blinking monitor. “If you see that, that basically means you have lost the game.” One of the teens informed me.