A teen librarian's job is one part inspiration, one part communication and a whole lot of motivation to lure teens into the library. It all adds up to having a great time while at work. What could be better? The icing on the cake has to be that working with teens gives veteran librarians a new perspective on the issues of the day. As Teen Read Week kicks off next week, October 16th, most YA librarians are thinking of programs that will "excite and wow" their young patrons. Ideas that revolve around Halloween, to the latest teen novels theme, such as Steampunk, Zombies or Vampires, are sure to surface to the top of the list. These ideas might entice some teens to come in but it's going along the lines of the same old same old. Perhaps a little twist is needed to spruce the celebration. A little technology, mixed with exploring the library, inside and out can guarantee an event the teens won't soon forget. It's time to invite your teens to the Un-dead Library.
To begin this wonderfully different program, choose a theme. Based on the genre that is most popular in novels these days and it fits well with the season, Vampires, Zombies and Witches works well for planning this program. If your library has the ability to allow teens to register themselves on-line through the library's website, then this is the perfect set up for starting the fun. After the registration on-line, it is mandatory for teens to complete a short on-line survey on what they know about Vampires, Zombies and Witches. These questions are based on books, myths or legends. When they have completed the survey, an invitation is printed out for each participant to come to the library BEFORE the day of the program to receive a special pass to the program that is reserved for VIPs. This is a clever yet harmless trick to get teens to come into the library during the week at the same time create a buzz of excitement that will lead up to the big event. Once they come into the library to confirm their "invitation" a helpful YA librarian will provide them with a list of items to bring to the program. These items should be easy to find and tie into the theme of the party in some way. One item on the list could be a strand of garlic.
On the day of the program, at the check in desk, where teens will receive name tags, the YA librarian will ask to see if the guest had brought in all the items on the list. If they have, as VIP status players they will receive two clues during the program that will allow them to solve questions or tasks during the games. If a guest did not bring in all the items, they may borrow from another guest or the librarian but they will not be able to receive any clues. They are virtually clueless on their quest for the night. This is where, librarians are going to have to suspend he rules of quietness for the evening and the use of cell phones. Once everyone has been checked in the game can begin.
Explain to all participants that the online survey and items that they were required to bring will aid them in passing through the un-dead library. Armed with their previous knowledge, and tools they will go through ten stations that will require them to look something up, make something, or perform an activity, such as reading a poem out loud. One of the outcomes of this program is to encourage teens to use all various types of resources from electronic to paper, to complete the tasks. The guest or team (this program works well with either individuals or teams competing) who completes all tasks first wins. Once everyone has completed the stations, everyone can regroup to find out the answers to each stations. As with any teen program, provide snacks and beverage as a way to "celebrate" the winners' achievements and thank all the teens for their participation.
This game is so much fun for the teens because it allows for the use different tools to complete a given tasks. Teens love to show their techie expertise and as YA librarians it essential that the opportunities to do this is provided. Its time to face reality, teens today will be facing a more digitized world then our generation. In order to prepare these young patrons for the "way" of the future, thinking outside the traditional library rules for a week is a good thing.
For a complete outline of how this program can be done, including the questions and stations activity, don't hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.