A. Several teen councils together.

On May 3rd, we held our first Multnomah County Library Teen Council Retreat. More than thirty teens attended, representing teen councils from several different branches. Our goals were simple: for the teens to meet, see that they’re part of something bigger than the council at their neighborhood library, and have fun.

Icebreakers. You can’t have too many. We scheduled a full hour’s worth, and made sure some involved moving around.

  • People Bingo — with two rules: you can’t ask someone you already know, and you have to get someone different for every square. Prizes: books!
  • “Would You Rather?” — wherein it was revealed that a majority would rather have their arm gnawed by a cannibal than to be poked in the eye with a sharp stick.
  • Beach ball questions — wherein we discovered, among other things, two words they’d add to the dictionary: chillax and swoot. (Fortunately, they’re already in the Urban Dictionary.)

Show the teens how much the library values them. We invited our Deputy Director — billed as a mystery Very Special Guest — to speak for a few minutes. There was an initial slight letdown that she wasn’t John Green, but she won them over with her genuine warmth and her commitment to include teen voices in library decision-making.

Brainstorm. The “work” component of our retreat was to get into small groups and brainstorm future projects and programs. Each group got a pickle jar that we’d filled with strips of paper, each one with a different question: “Could your TC sponsor a contest? What kind? For whom?” “How could your TC get involved with your library’s local community?”, etc. Each group wrote up their top three ideas on Post-It pads, then we came back together as a large group and every teen got five stickers to vote for their favorites from all the groups.

Recess. We knew that not everyone would want to do the same thing, so we set up stations: Speed stacking. Button-making. Duct tape crafts. Rock Band. Frisbee. Sitting around and chatting was fine, too.

Showing off. One of our councils debuted a video response to “Kelly Loves Shoes” called, of course, “Books:”

Souvenirs. T-shirts! A very plain design, with a lot of room for customization by fabric marker.

6 Thoughts on “Q. What’s Better Than a Teen Council?

  1. Joseph Wilk on May 16, 2008 at 3:10 pm said:

    That video is incredible. Please allow me to give a well-deserved round of applause to these amazing teens!

  2. Seconded! As a diehard Shoes (and I Wanna Borrow That Top) fan, I say bravo!

  3. Joseph Wilk on May 17, 2008 at 5:51 pm said:

    Ha ha. Maybe next on the list could be “I Wanna Borrow That Book.” I wonder how “Text Message Breakup” could be adapted.

  4. I really like this video, but I wish you had not made the librarian the bad guy at the end. I’ve seen the original so I understand why you picked the librarian. But anyway, I thought the librarian should have been partying it up with the teens, cuz that’s what we do!

  5. Sara on May 19, 2008 at 5:06 pm said:

    Thanks Joseph and MK, and good point Lindsey! Forwarding your comments to the teens … 🙂

  6. Susansm on May 21, 2008 at 2:39 pm said:

    As the librarian in question, I should say that I DID have a ball partying with them! You just didn’t get to see it. ;>) I get your point about stereotyping. However, the teens thought it was a total hoot to have the librarian (me) be the bad guy ’cause, I’m totally not! They know they have me wrapped around their little fingers. It was so much fun (and tiring for an old broad) to make this video. Try it!

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