Tweens are always a hard audience to reach at my library. They are so busy and the library often ends up being a quick stop for our tweens. We wanted to make sure we offered programs for our school age patrons and we thought the best way to reach them would be to offer programming at multiple times to try and accommodate their busy schedules.

After brainstorming with my staff, we decided we had two audiences we wanted to reach-school age patrons and our ever growing home school population. So we came up with the idea to offer two programs that would repeat each month. We offer one program on a Saturday morning and another on the fourth’ Friday afternoon of the month. So far we’ve done a Crafternoon, old fashioned game day, and a sewing program based around the book’ Extra Yarn. This gives patrons two opportunities to attend our programs and we’re reaching a different audience need with each program while targeting the tween school age population that we want to bring into the library.

We don’t advertise the weekday afternoon program as’ just for home schoolers, but we know that’s a big part of our audience for those programs. And the public schools will often have an early dismissal on the afternoons of our programs, so we’re able to reach a wider audience.

So far it’s been a popular idea. Our patrons have appreciated having more options of times to attend a program and our home school patron base is excited that we are offering a program that they can attend with the whole family. We’re eager to keep this plan going in the Fall and continue to bring programming that offers something for our tweens.

Does your library offer a creative time slot to reach tweens or multiple programming opportunities to reach’ tweens? I’d love to know how other libraries are running programs for school age patrons!

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?’  The’ YALSA Blog‘ and the’ ALSC Blog‘ both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.‘ 

I love reading about librarians in books. Sometimes they are annoyingly stereotypical-the bun-wearning shushing types. But other times they are more true to the librarians I know-creative, energetic, and maybe with some secret powers!

I got excited when I saw an upcoming release,’ The Ninja Librarians’ by Jennifer Swan Downey. (Sourcebooks, April 2014) The book is ‘ “Just a little story about your average sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-fighting ninja librarians.” (from Goodreads) It got me thinking about a few of my other favorite librarians in literature.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians‘ by Brandon Sanderson

-Alcatraz must save the world from the most evil villain there is-librarians! They’re plotting to take over the world and Alcatraz must stop them.

Miss Brooks Loves Books! (And I Don’t)‘ by Barbara Bottner, illusrated by Michael Emberly

-Miss Brooks is a great librarian who won’t give up on reader’s advisory-even when she’s faced with the toughest critic.

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

-Mr. Lemoncello isn’t a librarian, but he builds an amazing library and employs some great librarians-who happen to be inspired by real life librarians.

Who are your favorite fictional librarians?

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?’  The’ YALSA Blog‘ and the’ ALSC Blog‘ both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.‘ 




My office is actually a shared workspace with my staff. We have lots of storage for supplies and counter space to spread out and work on upcoming projects. And at the very front of the room is a large window-great for looking out and keeping an eye on the department, but not so great when you’re trying to work of desk and patrons can easily look in.

My staff and I are always trying to come up with creative ways to utilize the windows and they’ve become a prime display space. During the voting for our state picture book award, we hang up a large poster of all the nominees and set up a voting box in front of the windows. One of the activities for the Summer Reading Program is to send a postcard to the library, so our windows display the postcards we receive.

When we took a storytime break and created a Cookie Club’ (inspired by Marge Loch-Wouters’ brilliant Cookie Club!) our windows became a display space for the decorated paper cookies. When the kids visited the library, they got to decorate a cookie and place it in the window. The kids loved it and it also worked as extra promotion for the Cookie Club. People would walk in, see the windows, and ask about the Cookie Club.

cookie club‘ Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson

‘ In February, we asked our patrons why they loved the library. They filled out the answer on paper hearts and covered our windows in library love. Our teen department created a similar display on a bookshelf. It was so much fun to read all the answers and I was thrilled when one heart read “the helpful librarians.”

valentines‘ Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson

Even though there are times I wish our office area was arranged differently, we’ve made the best of it by creating a fun display space that offers library promotion-and lots of library love.

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?’  The’ YALSA Blog‘ and the’ ALSC Blog‘ both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.‘ 


Working with tweens can be fun and also frustrating. My branch will have a large after school crowd of tweens but they’re not at the library to attend a program or hang out. Instead they are at the library to meet with a tutor, work on homework, or grab a book quickly before they rush off to their extracurricular activities. No matter how much we advertise programs to this age group, our attendance can sometimes be low. Or at least it feels low when we’ve put a lot of effort into planning a program that we hope will be a big success.

It’s hard to get caught up in numbers and statistics when it comes to programming. It’s also hard not to compare programs with each other. Sometimes I think about how we can get a group of 30 or more toddlers for storytime but I’m lucky if I can get a few tweens for a program.

But I can’t get caught up in measuring program success by numbers. Instead I focus on the stories. Like the middle schooler who came to every single Hunger Games program we provided last year, won the movie tickets in the giveaway, and came to the library this year and said “thank you so much for having those programs about The Hunger Games! They were my favorite and I met my best friend-and we’re still friends today and we met at the library.”

Or the tween who attended a recent program and was excited to win a set of books she hadn’t read yet.

Or the tween who gets excited to meet someone else who shares their interests when they thought’  they were the only one who liked Doctor Who, or Origami Yoda, or Cupcake Club.

When I feel down about tween programs and wonder what we could do better to reach this age group, I remind myself of all that we have provided for tweens and that we are successful. We are providing a place for tweens to come, meet other tweens, and participate in a program just for them-and that’s a success.


Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?’  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.‘ 

The tweens at my library love the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger. With so many fans, I knew this series would be great for a program. For’ my program inspiration, I used several of the activities in Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling. I was nervous about putting on an origami program, because I am not very skilled at origami myself.

I set up the room with origami paper and additional supplies we would need for drawing our own comics as well as print outs of how to do some of the more difficult origami folds. Nine tweens gathered on a Sunday afternoon at my library to learn how to do origami and talk about the series.

We started the program out by talking about the book series and why they liked it (it’s funny and they liked the drawings throughout). About half of the group had read the books, the other half were attending the program either for the Star Wars or origami aspect. I started the group out with the’ simple five fold Origami Yoda‘ that the author has posted to his website. This also gave me a good way to gauge how well the group could handle origami. Most of them had some trouble getting started but quickly figured it out. Once we made our Origami Yoda’s, we talked about the books some more and talked about favorite characters (Origami Yoda was the ultimate favorite character). While some of the origami was a bit complicated, the group stuck with it and they tried their hardest to complete Darth Paper and Origami R2-D2.’ In addition to origami, we made eraser Wookies and learned how to draw a simple Darth Vader helmet, both from the Art2-D2 book. Read More →