Thinking Outside the Box: Putting Some Randomness Into Your Programming
|TPIB: We have 31 teen programs for you to pick and choose elements from!|
Surprise Saturday is an unscheduled, unplanned program that at my library can draw between 10 and 50 patrons. It’s not on the official calendar; it gets posted on the blog and Facebook when possible, and I make in-house flyers the day of on publisher describing what we’re doing and when.
It can be as simple as bringing out some of the board games from the back and have a gaming afternoon, or having a Monopoly contest to see who can be the biggest tycoon. Or having a huge Uno competition.
Another Saturday, it can be going through the leftover craft kits from the season, making a huge pile, and letting the kids go through them and make whatever they want- following directions or not. Or bringing out scrap paper and glue sticks, and letting them create while letting them watch a book based movie.
There’s no plan, there’s no limit, and there’s no planning involved save for getting together the parts for the program- which are always on hand. There’s no stress because it doesn’t matter if no one comes- it’s an extra activity. However, I’ve found that once one kid finds out about the program, word spreads, and they bring friends, and then others will come. Your small group of 5 turns to 10, and then 25. And then the next Saturday, they’re asking what special thing is happening next- the perfect time to promote the next program at the library, or ask them what they want to see.
While my situation is unique, this is a type of program that can certainly be applied to any library setting. If your setting or administration needs things laid out, or your schedule needs things blocked out, then block out the time- just don’t tell the public what’s going on until the day of. Step outside the box, and play with their minds. See what happens, and enjoy the results. – Christie Gibrich
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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