Cindy Crushes Programming: Virtual Programming Failures, Tech Issues and Tips, by Cindy Shutts
Since I started doing virtual programming for teens during the pandemic, I have wanted to talk about failure. I think in a lot of ways we are holding ourselves to pandemic numbers. I could have a very full program and it would work perfectly. Now, even if I have people attend there could be technological issues.
It is okay to have a no show program
This is as true before as it is today. Sometimes you just do not get anyone to come. We had a virtual book club and no one showed. It was our first try at having a virtual program. I knew we have to realize we are building a completely different patron base. We have to have teens who have time and access to the internet. I also realized that maybe for our teens virtual book club felt like work. It is hard to want to do anything work at is related right now.
Check your tech equipment where you are running your program
You have to make sure everything works where you run your program because you do not know what the internet capabilities are. This was an issue with my Animal Crossing Program. I had been able to use a dodo code to let people on my island before but our wi fi at work was different than that at my house. I had tested it before even at work but I had someone who was my friend come to my island. I did not realize our internet at work
was Nat Type D when you need Nat Type A or B. Also make sure you can kick out someone if they break patron policy.
Your teen’s internet may be a problem
This issue also happened during our Animal Crossing Program. We had the teens get kicked off the island and we had no idea why. We then realized one of the teens did not have a strong internet connection and the was the cause. It was hard to tell the teen that was the issue.
Give yourself time
We have had two programs with zero people attending. It is okay. We are building back the patron base. They are not going to come back right away. You have to keep trying different programs and see what works. I learned that even though the Animal Crossing program had issues teens wanted to come. I am working on a virtual Animal Crossing escape room and a make and take craft.
Try all different programs
This is the one big thing we have learned about our patron base is that they want to do something fun. It is a stressful time and the programs that have done the best are programs where they did not have to think about work or what is going on in the real world. All library patrons might not want all the same type of programs.
Cindy Shutts, MLIS
Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.
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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