I have only been in teen since September and I have been working really hard on programming and making the space teen friendly. While I am super excited to see all the new faces hanging out after school and in the evenings, I still struggle with programming numbers.
Programming is traditionally hard with teens if your library is not near a school or neighborhood. We often only have 2-5 teens per program and a rare 20 for something that is crazy popular like Doctor Who. It is difficult not to feel like a failure when you only get one kid that shows up. But does only having one or two kids show up an automatic fail?
I think it depends on the program. I have had a few where the teen leaves pretty quickly when they know their friends are not coming. I don’t blame them. It can be awkward hanging out with an adult that you barely know. Some have stayed and we have a really fun time taking about fandoms and books. It totally depends on the teen.
My initial thought last week was fail when I realized that one was going to be my number for the night. However, thankfully I know this teen from working at his school in a past job. He is really outgoing and a great kid. He walked in to Star Trek night with a mission. His mission: Why should I care about Star Trek? Challenge accepted!
So how do you make a Trekkie for life? You show them the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” He spent the whole episode trying to predict the outcome and freaking out because the tribbles were crawling up the walls and they had no feet. NO FEET.. He also came up with a theory that Tribbles were the template for the 80’s movie “Gremlins.” He was convinced that they would take over the enterprise and eat everyone on board. To sum it up: Mind blown!
He left that night with a list of episodes to binge watch on Netflix and a new appreciation of all things Trek. He also took home some brand new books about Piccard and Spock and came back for a stuffed tribble. I totally made him a fan. We also ended up having a really great conversation about the show and what is going on in his life. He also gave me some tips for future programs and offered to promote anything I had coming up to his friends.
The final verdict? I call this a win. Yeah, my number were low, but that one kid had a blast even without doing all the fabulous activities I had planned. (I was informed that cool boys don’t sew fluffy space creatures even though they steal one as they leave) If you struggle with the numbers game like I do, try to evaluate the quality over the quantity. Some of my best programs have been with only a handful of kids and some of the worst have had dozens. It also depends on the group and the general mood. Teens can be a fickle bunch so when you win you really take home the grand prize.
Here is a link to my Captain Kirk and Redshirt sign: