In recent years many libraries have invested energy and resources in creating or enhancing teen areas.’ ‘  As author Kimberly Bolan points out in her great YALSA white paper The Need for Teen Spaces in Public Libraries we all know that this investment in physical space is an essential part of successfully serving teens in any library. The significant increase in the number of libraries with teen spaces has been terrific to see, but with the recent economic challenges’ many libraries are facing finding the staff, programming budget and general resources to make the most of a teen space can be tough.’  What’s a teen librarian to do when you’ve got lots of teens with lots of energy and a shrinking budget to serve them?

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You always seem to need one when there aren’t any around, and you always seem to have too many when there isn’t anything for them to do! What are they? Volunteers! This is all especially true of teen volunteers, who range from the bored-nothing-else-to-do variety to the I-need-sixty-hours-of-community-service-for-Honor-Society sect. So how do you make the most of them (and manage to keep your sanity in the process?) Read More →

I’m sure many of you are like me and are faced with a limited budget. Long before I started in my current position, the teens were conditioned to expect prizes at our monthly teen night events. They look forward to our prize drawings and it wasn’t something I really wanted to take away. So I’m always looking for fun and affordable prizes and program supplies for my teen events. Here are some of my favorites:

Target’s Dollar Spot -This is my regular place for Teen Night prizes. I’ve found cloth bags, mini pens, and stickers that all work well for Teen Night.

The local dollar store -Every once in awhile I can find program supplies at our local dollar store. This is where I looked for craft supplies for a Girl’s Day Out: Room Makeover program and found wooden paintable frames for $1. It gave me a great craft and also helped keep the supply cost down. -I love Fred Flare and so do my teens. It’s more expensive, but if you’re looking for unique and wacky prize ideas, this is the best place to look. There are lots of great finds under $20 and be sure to check out their clearance items. This is a great place to mix up your prizes for Summer Reading Program and offer something really different.

Sushi Erasers-I first got sushi erasers to give away as a prize for an anime club event and the teens went crazy over them. I found mine at a Scholastic Warehouse sale, but has sushi erasers for $1! Take a look around the site for other anime club prize ideas.

Operation Anime-Operation Anime is a project by Funimation.’  If your anime club has 20 or more members, you can sign up and recieve a free anime DVD each month from featured titles.’  The request to view the DVD includes screening permission from Funimation for the event date.’  The DVDs can then be added to your library collection.’  The packages also come with bookmarks and postcards that are great anime club giveaways.

Signed Author Bookplates -Two summers ago I came up with an idea to ask authors for signed bookplates to use for our summer reading program. My teen library council helped come up with a list of authors to write to and I sent them e-mails asking them if they would be willing to sign bookplates for us. Then with the help of community relations, we sent bookplates and a self-addressed stamped envelope to the authors. We got a great response and we used the bookplates to make signed books to give away for summer reading. The teens loved finding autographed copies of their favorite books and it made our book giveaway that year extra special.

What are some of your favorite steals and deals?

While planning a program with/for teens, it’s always important to ask yourself questions your teens will ask: “Is it too much like school?”,’  “Why should I participate?”,’  and perhaps the most important, “What’s in it for me?”

While giving back and doing for the benefit of others is all well and good, teens often find themselves with too many activities and not enough time. They pick what to spend their free time doing, and often that last question helps them decide. Will they get community service hours? Or something to put on the resume/college application?’  But often, it can be as simple as a reward for participating.

I am sure that while teens like to read, many of them also participate in summer reading programs in order to have a chance a some great prizes, as so many of us offer in our’  programs. But with our shrinking (or non existent) budgets, how can we provide incentives teens will want?

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You have five bes tfriends, a boyfriend/girlfriend, your parents, and your little brother/sister…and this is just the must buy for list!’  This is such an expensive time of year!’  You meant to save a little money from your paycheck, but you thought you had more time…Now it’s ten days until’ gift giving and you have no gifts! ‘ What do you do if you have little cash or no cash and many to give to?

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The idea started last year in an eleventh grade classroom with a teacher joking that there should be a school version of the television show Dancing with the Stars. Some members of the class took the idea and ran with it. This fall, the seniors presented Dancing With the Staff.

The basics: teachers were put into dancing pairs. The first week they danced ballroom. Three of the ten couples were eliminated, and the seven remaining danced freestyle the following week. Three teachers served as judges, serving up snarky commentary much like the judges on the show. Charging $5 a head, the senior class earned $3900.

While it was a financially successful fundraiser, there were a number of other benefits as well.
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I’m thinking about this topic from the perspective of someone who is building a new teen program…although, with the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of said program fast approaching, I’m not sure how much longer I can call it “new.” I do think, though, that my advice applies to librarians managing any kind of teen program, new or established. In my experience, here’s where you shouldn’t skimp:

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Circulation reports are not as boring as you think! These reports can be an invaluable source of information for those librarians who find themselves dollar short. Most circulation software has the capability to run a myriad of reports that can instantaneously inform librarians of circulation trends in their library, which is wonderful because each community is different, and each group of patrons has unique needs. It is well worth your time to consult the technical manuals to learn about which reports your software can generate and familiarize yourself with the functions of each.
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It’s no news to anyone that when library budgets get tight and cuts need to be made, one of the first things to go is the travel budget. Follow that with any continuing education budgets, then staff cuts that make even using personal time to take a day to go to a workshop difficult, and before you know it librarians can find themselves feeling isolated, cut off, and downright grouchy about it.
So how can you remain involved when you’re stuck at home (so to speak)?

  • Right now you are doing one great thing-reading the YALSA blog! This is a good way to keep abreast of trends, news, and topics of interest (such as weathering the economy!). Much as I love the YALSA blog, though, it is not the only one out there. There are many blogs and sites about young adult librarianship and literature. Find an online library community you enjoy (a blog or even a group on ALA Connect) and fresh content and voices will help keep you in the library loop and excited about what you’re doing. Read More →

If there’s one thing that most teens love it’s creating some kind of craft at the library. We all know that craft programs are always a big hit. But in this economy, where are we supposed to come up with materials for craft programs when we can barely cover our collection budgets and other essentials? ‘ One of the beautiful things about crafts is that pretty much anything can be used in them, and if you can get your teens to bring in a few essentials from home you can put on a pretty amazing program.

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