TPiB: Teen Tech Week on a Shoe String
Teen Tech Week is March 9-15 and it is coming up FAST! The theme for this year is DIY @ Your Library and you can uptech it or downtech it as you see fit, so it’s extremely versatile as themes go if you want to run with the theme (unlike Check In @ Your Library, where all mine where stuck on Foursquare or some of the other themes).
Already we here at Teen Librarian Toolbox are planning summer reading challenges/clubs/programming, or are in the middle of testing in the schools, and trying to figure out additional programs and special events for Teen Tech Week can just stress anyone out. Add in the fact that (for us at least) it occurs during the spring break for the majority of the school districts we work with (which means teens and staff are going to have plans with their families), and it gets to be overwhelming!
Never fear! You can still offer exciting things with a minimum of stress and staff work and have amazing outcomes and interactions with your tweens and teens. It just takes some footwork now and a smidge of planning.
Make sure you know what the schedule/time off request calendar looks like for that week. If the majority of your staff (or the staff of the building) is going to be off during that time, and your manager is counting on you to take up the slack, you’re going to have to be planning more self-directed programming than staff-directed programming. It’s a good idea to sit down with your manager or supervisor (depending on your library’s hierarchy) so that you know what’s going on around you and they know what you’re thinking about producing. You don’t want to put tons of effort into a huge week-long program only to be told you’re on reference desk for most of the day.
Talk with your teens. Even if you don’t have a teen advisory board, talk to your regulars and see what they want and what their plans are. It may be that the majority of your teens are going out of town for the week because their family is going to see Great Auntie Margorie in Palooskie. Who knows. It may be that they’re all here and stuck because no one has money or a car; which means you can turn the library in to THE spot for all the tweens and teens to be during Spring Break. Ask them what programs they like, what programs they’d like to see, and what they would LOVE to see in the library if there were no barriers- Teen Tech Week can be the perfect time to dust off the cobwebs of some of the programs that you have been doing and launch some new ones.
Take inventory of what you have and what’s worked well. If movie programs have been OK but they love the idea of mocking movies, run with it- start your own Mystery Science Theater Feature with a marathon showcasing a different type of tech each night (show The Avengers or Thor: The Dark World for alien tech, Red 2 or White House Down for assassin tech, a Fast and Furious marathon for automotive tech) and not only mock it but show how that tech could actually work. If you’ve been having duct tape sessions, turn them into tech session by showing how they can work to patch things in the real world, and have a contest for the most innovative use of duct tape- find a pond and have them actually make small boats, the one who can make theirs last the longest wins, for example.
Take advantage of self-directed programming. Have a QR scavenger hunt or even a character scavenger hunt around the library, and give out passes for extra computer time, or a waiver of $2-3 for fines. Take a display frame and pour in popped off keyboard keys scavenged from killed keyboards, and have a contest to guess the amount of keys in the frame- the closest the the right amount wins a huge candy bar. Have a caption the Meme contest, and put up a “clean meme” for them to caption, and have the library director or the branch manager vote for the best three.
Have a retro gaming program. Reserve the programming room or just a couple of tables in the back of the library, pull out Monopoly, Uno, and a couple of other board games (Life and Sorry are big with my kids) or Legos and sit and play with them and just talk. Make up house rules that wouldn’t normally be in the game relating to anything high tech (first that looks at their phone has to give everyone playing $10, etc.) and have a wonderful afternoon of “low tech” gaming.
Have a BYOC afternoon- bring your own craft afternoon program. Take an afternoon sometime during the week, and have everyone bring something that they’ve been working on, or want to learn. I want to learn Rainbow Loom bracelets but I know cross-stitching, beading, and crochet. I can bring my stuff from home, someone else can create with the duct tape, someone can create with beads, someone can bring their rainbow loom, and while we watch a movie or listen to music, we can craft and create and have a wonderful afternoon just being.
What are you doing for Teen Tech Week? Share in the comments!
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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