Teen Tech Week is finally here! “Libraries are for Creating” is a good theme for to introducing teens to Steampunk. Steampunk is not “punk” at all; the science fiction author, K.W. Jeter made up the word in the 1980’s. Think of it as science fiction meets Victorian Age. Jeter coined the word to describe some of his works, such as Morlock Night and Infernal Devices. It is not only a genre of literature, but also a style of clothes, video games, movies, and more. Steam-powered technology was prominent in Victorian times, when there was no electricity. Steampunk is a fun and creative way to get teens excited about reading and get them thinking outside the box. Not only does Steampunk inspire reading, but it also fosters creativity and encourages recycling. Read More →

DIY1Library staff see a diverse crowd of students after classes end each school day. There are over-worked students looking for a place to unwind or cram in homework before after-school activities and jobs. There are also wandering bands of restless teens who don’t seem to have anything in particular to do but make all the noises that weren’t allowed during the day. We don’t want to contribute to students’ stress by piling on more work, but do want to provide them with a productive outlet for all that pent up energy.

Free-form DIY projects can provide an experience that many teens need. Happily, a self-directed (a.k.a passive) afterschool craft program can also be pulled off with no advance preparation, simply by putting out a bucket of craft supplies and a pile of leftover paper with no instructions but to do with them whatever they want.   This frees up library staff to work with other teens who need/want your attention.  With some prep-work (such as buying a few basic supplies for the DIY school supply program pictured in this blog post) a simple theme can take shape. Read More →

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.banner_1002x200

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. Read More →

Finding new programming ideas for teens is tough, particularly when it comes to crafts.’  With them, the trends are changing so fast.’  I started to plan my Breaking Dawn party, only to find myself made fun of by most of my teens.’  Apparently, Twilight is over at my library.’  I was really excited to play Pin the Tail on Jacob, too.’  Then, I don’t know if this craft is good for boys and girls or if it’s too “babyish”.’  I have tried asking the kids for ideas, but, for the most part, I get the standard teen “I don’t know…” response.’  So what’s a teen librarian to do?’  Here are the options I have found.

  1. ‘ Listservs: are a godsend, especially YA-YAAC when it comes to programming and crafts.’ ‘  Someone on that list will have tried whatever you are thinking of and tell you how it worked out.’  All you librarians are a great sounding board for ideas and sometimes I check my email and think about how genius you all are.’  Plus, there is a circulating list of all the great YA programming sites, such as the4YA and Abby the Librarian (Not me, an even cooler Abby).
  2. ‘ Pinterest.com:’  Most of you have already found this website, I’m sure.’  I am on this thing daily.’  It is chock-full of easy ways to make crafts and fun things to do to entertain yourself’  or your patrons.’  It puts all of your favorite ideas (and everyone else’s) on to one easy-to-use website, with links back to the original sites.’  It’s a beautiful thing.’  Plus, it’s great for stress relief, because lots of people “pin” pretty clothes and cute dogs, too.
  3. Design*Sponge:’  Mostly aimed at adults, this website has tons of awesome DIY that you can cater to your teens.’  I tried the clothespin mirror myself and it was really easy and really cheap.’  And again, lots of pretty other things to look at to de-stress.’  Or stress, because you can’t afford that gorgeous $300 blanket from Malaysia.

It is really amazing how much is out there, now that I have started looking.’  Again, I think you all are the best resources, so emailing each other for more websites (since I am sure there are quite a few I missed) and ideas will probably give you more crafts than you ever needed.