Google texts and teen writing skills and you will get many articles on how texting negatively effects teen’s formal writing skills, all loaded with quotes from teachers about how they have seen the negative impact texting has on these skills.

The most interesting article I found was in the New York Times , printed in 2002 . The arguments made almost ten years ago are still the sames ones you will read about over and over in any article/blog/web forum today. Basically, that the shorthand teens use in text messaging is detrimental to their writing and can be found in written assignments, much to the frustration of their teachers.

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Coming up with ideas for programs can be a daunting task, especially to a new teen programmer. Coming up with cheap programs is even harder. I’m going to share some tips on how to accomplish effective and inexpensive teen programs.

The main thing that will help you out with programming is to know your resources. One of your most valuable resources is your children’s librarian- they are notorious hoarders. If you have an idea but don’t know how to convince your manager to pay for the supplies, check with your children’s librarian. She will happy to share those toilet paper rolls she has been storing for the past ten years “just in case.” She will also have great suggestions on how to make your program more successful. If you don’t have an idea for a program, look through her stash- you might find some great treasures there.

If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas for programs, go online and check out what other libraries are doing. You’ll be able to find something you think has potential and adapt using the things you already have available to you. There are also some really great websites for cheap crafts. You may have to think creatively to figure out how to adapt things to work with what you already have or to make it appropriate for you audience.

Another thing that can make it easier to do cheap teen programs is to pick a theme and stick with it for a month or a quarter or whatever time period you like. Summer Reading is always so great for programs because we are given a theme and it is so easy to come up with program ideas based on a theme.

Another great resource is to use your co-workers, friends and family. If you need supplies for a program, put an email out asking for help. I have about 20 soda bottles and empty chip bags because I needed them for programs this summer and sent an email to my co-workers. People are glad to help out.

You can also check with your community to see who is willing to come and do free programs. I have had NASA come and do a program. I have also worked with local universities to have them come and do workshops on gaming and science. I have had the police department and fire department come do demonstrations geared towards teens. One time the bomb squad came out with a robot they use to check out bombs- it was very cool. I have had local authors come and do programs for free. You might be surprised how many people are willing to help out the library for free. And it never hurts to ask- the worse that can happen is that you’ll be told no, leaving you in the same place you are now.

But, your most important resource is yourself. In August I did a middle school program with a caveman theme. One of my co-workers came up with idea to make pet rocks. The kids LOVED it. The reason they loved it is because my co-worker and I had so much fun with it. We were cracking jokes about how our rocks had different personalities and how expensive it was going to be to feed them and made other stupid commentary about the rocks. All of the kids created two or three “pets” using markers to make faces on the rocks.

This just goes to show that you don’t have to have $100 worth of supplies to have a successful program. You just have to use the resources you have, be creative and a good attitude and you’ll be golden.

This summer’ my library is pumping out programs like no one’s business. Every week we offer four storytimes, a family movie time, two elementary programs, two tween programs, one teen program and at least one adult program. That’s a whole lot of programming! This is in addition to the Summer Reading Program, which is a beast all its own. Oh, and’ then there’s’ that pesky business of’ having a library to run. Phew – ‘ no wonder I feel so tired!

I am sure most of you are in similar positions. Libraries have this way of morphing to meet the needs of their communities. As people google for more and more information, we find ourselves’ transforming’ once again so libraries will remain a staple in the community. What better way than free programming? Times are tough and no one has money to spare. You can bring your family to the library for programs that offer exciting activities plus promote reading and learning.’  Oh AND give mom a little break.’  Count me in!

So in the midst of all the summer mayhem, I just want to take a minute to reflect on how great all this programming is.’  If you feel exhausted from the kids who are packing out your programs, remember that this means you are excelling at your job.’ ‘ Programs offer a great chance to get to connect to teens.’  Teens love having an adult that will listen to them while they are making worry dolls from Guatemala or sushi from Japan.’  By taking the time to connect to those teens and listen to their drama of the week, you are fostering a love of libraries.’  Go head with your bad self!

All that said, it can be hard to come up with ideas for all these programs.’  Maybe we can all share our favorite program from the summer and our favorite website/search engine.’  As my high school year book teacher once said, “Plagiarism is wrong. Stealing is great.”

My favorite program so far has been Middle School Mayhem.’  This program is for 10-14 year olds, is bi-weekly and lasts for one hour.’  We have set time travel as our theme and have gone to the Wild West, where we made gun holsters from duct tape, created wanted posters and had a shoot out (with water guns of course), we Escaped from Pompeii, making baking soda and vinegar volcanoes and edible volcanos’ and’ created Medieval’ Mayhem by ‘ making shields with family crests, dragon drool (slime) and dragon cupcakes.’  I have relied heavily’ on google images this summer.’  Finding ideas is not usually too big a problem but figuring out how to adapt them to different age groups and a specific time frame can be hard.’  Google images has been great at helping with this issue.’  So, that’s mine- please share yours in the comments section.

I started working as the YA’ representative in my library in 2008, amid the fight to prove to the world why gaming belonged in libraries. This was a fight that YA librarians across the country were involved in, so much so that books, journal articles and blogs were made dedicated solely on the topic. In my library system, we won this battle and now have gaming systems at every branch in our system. And this is true nationwide. If you take a look at the teen programs offered by most library systems, you will find gaming on the agenda. We won this battle.

So what happened? YA librarians seem content to let it stay at this level, when in fact, we should be continuing to push to make more and more technology available to teens in the library.’ A recent study by McCann Worldgroup showed that teens would rather lose their sense of smell than their techonolgy.(,2817,2385960,00.asp) And technology consists of much more than just gaming.’  There are many free websites available that allow users to’ create their own animated’ videos, like’  Scratch, a free software program designed by MIT (, allows users to program their own video games.’  All of this is available through technology we already have in our buildings and’ we should be using it in teen programming.’ ‘ YA librarians have already shown that technology is an’ essential part of teen programing.’  We have an obligation to teens to continue to push to get free technology in their hands.

So why not ask for green screen technology like Charlotte-Mecklenburg uses for their teens?’  Why not ask for digital’ ‘ and video cameras’ so we can teach teens how to create their own short-length movies?’  Why not ask for Macs to use Movie-Maker?’  Why not ask for Photoshop to teach teens how to edit their pictures.’  All of these things are becoming basics in information literacy education.’  One of the new rolls libraries are striving for is to become teachers of information’ literacy- to become the experts on these topics.’  So why not ask for more?’  The worst that can happen is to be told no.’  The best that can happen is to be able to give teens more reasons to love the library.