To me, the best part about being a Teen Librarian is programming. I love coming up with ideas that will appeal to a variety of ages. It is personally challenging in a good way and something I look forward to every planning period. Geeky programs can be fun if you are fan yourself or super challenging if you have never watched or read the current craze. In my last post I talked about getting to know your audience. This post is what to do when you have found out what your teens love and how to plan a program without losing your mind. *You may still lose your mind but hopefully not all the way!*
Got my list.. now what?
You’ve surveyed your teens and they have requested a bunch of geeky programs. Some of them you know and some you have only heard about in passing. Maybe a few on that list are not your cup of tea and the idea of programming around it makes you shudder in horror. First off, I am firm believer of “if you can’t find anything to like about something don’t program it!” I am not a fan of Attack on Titan. It creeps me out on many levels. Naked giants eating people… double nope. I can appreciate the art and why the teens love it but I am not going to do a whole program around it. Plus, if you really are uncomfortable with something and truly cannot handle it on any level then leave it for another librarian. Teens can tell when you dislike something they love. Kinda like they can smell fear and know the exact moment that the cookie package is opened. It will not be fun for anyone involved so skip it.
Next, I suggest sorting out your list. I put the programs that I know at the top and the ones I don’t, but might be willing to learn about at the bottom. If there is anything else on the list that I think I can’t do or is out of my comfort zone I ask a fellow librarian if they want to do it or send the idea to another branch. Many times they have resources that I don’t or one of the librarians there is willing to give it shot or are a fan themselves. Which brings me to my next point: Job sharing and cross programming
Who do you know?
There are millions of fandoms in this world and knowing them all is impossible. But, someone you know just might! Your co-workers are fabulous resources that we often forget about. I am not a Legend of Zelda fan and did not grow up playing the game. I have a group of tweens that love Zelda and had been begging for a program. Thankfully one of the lovely gals in the Children’s department is a mega fan. She was able to create a wonderful tween program with little to no effort. We often trade ideas and help each other with programming so it was a really good fit.
Another fandom that I am trying to break into but am lacking both time and motivation is Anime and Manga. Honestly, this fandom is very overwhelming to me. There is so much to know that includes thousands of shows and books. Since this is my most requested program I am doing a job share with another branch. One of their teen librarians is coming to my branch to help me with this program. I can do the basics and she can actually talk to the kids about what they love. This program is still in the planning phase so I will let you know how it works out.
If your library is open to it you can bring in outside help. We have several Geek groups in our area and we have invited them to come and help us out with fandom programs. Some of the Geek clubs in the Southwest Missouri area include: Doctor Who, LARPing, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters. We also have a few local cosplay groups that have come and done “DIY parties” with our teens and were very well received. We often don’t think about using other people as resources for programming but coworkers and friends outside of work can be great resources for your teens.
Behold the power of the internet
Pinterest is my BFF. I have tons of themed boards with ideas for my teen programs. I also share a few boards with other librarians in our system. While Pinterest can be a massive time suck, it can also be an invaluable resource for all things geek. It even has a geek option in the search bar. I used Pinterest when I was binge watching Doctor Who last year to help me get some of the references I missed and to find ideas for crafty things the teens would like. It also schooled me on the lingo for the fandom. If you want to follow me: MsVal313.
A quick and easy way to explore a fandom is to hit up their official page. You can glean a ton of information off BBC Sherlock and Doctor Who. I have also used a few wiki links to learn more information about those obscure Anime Fandoms that many of my teens love. I also skim the tags on Tumblr to find additional information. Proceed with caution on this avenue. If you are not interested in spoilers Tumblr might not be a good choice!
If you have not explored the Facebook group: Teen Services Underground I highly recommend it. It is a gathering of YA Librarians who love to share ideas. I have asked many a question about fandom related things and been directed to blogs and given advice on what to do. They helped me navigate the world of Homestuck without losing my mind and plan a fun program that attracted 13 teens who want me to do this again “like OMG every week.” They also do a monthly feature of programming ideas and YA related posts from bloggers all over the country. They also have a website: Teen Services Underground
Another place I love is Teen Librarian Toolbox. There are tons of program ideas from books to movies and everything in between. When I was a new Librarian this was my #1 resource for all things teen. This blog is full of information about programs, teen issues, and features lots of guest posts.
Finally, If you have a blog or site that you love please post them below and I will create a list on this post for everyone to use. You are also free to steal any of my ideas that I blog about.
Blogs I love:
- Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries
- The Pseudo Librarian
- The LibrariYAn – Ideas for Harry Potter Camps
A format that works for me
Depending on the time of year and my budget I use different formats for my geek programs. My teens love trivia, scavenger hunts, crafty stuff, and themed snacks. Sometimes I can do all of that and sometimes they have to pretend that the $1 raspberry filled cookies are Jammy Dodgers. It is rare that my programs cost over $20. I am really good at making something from very little. I have found that most of the time they just want to talk about their fandom and hang out together. Here are some ideas for how to format your programs.
Program example #1 – Sherlock BBC
- Scavenger hunt through the library using clues from the TV show.
- Cumberbatch Bookmarks– Seriously though… adorbs!
- Pin the Mustache on John
- Have some Moriar-tea and make crowns. I have used Burger King crowns and blinged them up with glitter glue and left over rhinestone stickers.
- The great debate- Is Moriarty really dead? How did Sherlock really fool John into believing he was dead?
- Origami Lotus– From the episode The Blind Banker
Program example #2- Homestuck
- Decorate Cupcakes with candy corn (found all year long at Walgreens) and sprinkles
- Make troll horns with air dry clay
- Share fanfiction- Make sure to remind them to keep it PG or PG-13 cause it can get a bit eye opening!
- Make Fandom Buttons with the button maker- If you have one break it out. Teens love buttons
- Alternate craft if you lack a button maker- make magnets from Printable magnet sheets or bottle cap magnets
Program example #3- The Big Doctor Who program that cost about $40 for 17 kids to participate
- Doctor who T-shirts using freezer paper and fabric spray paint – Have kids bring their own shirts
- Doctor Who Jeopardy- Old Who and New Who
- I made these Jeopardy boards and you are welcome to steal!
- Snacks: Walgreens “Jammy Dodgers” (raspberry creme cookies), Chips (Cassandra Crisps), Bananas, Sour Patch Kids (Jelly Babies)
Program example #4- Super Smash Bros (video game) Tournament
- This game has an option for setting up brackets so I let the teens choose names and set everything up. It is super easy!
- Perler Bead Mario Crafts
- Extra TV with video game cartoons
- I have done this program with snacks and without snacks. They get pretty tuned into the game so it kinda doesn’t matter either way.
It’s your turn!
Do you have a format or program that works? Would you like to share? Please comment below. All ideas are welcome and it’s nice to have a variety of things to choose from!
Next up- Everyday Fanbrarian