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August 14, 2010 / Sarah Ludwig

a repost from my tumblr

(which isn’t really meant for long posts like this!)

I’ve been developing my teen program for roughly a year and a half now, and of course I’m looking back over the past months to think about what’s worked and what hasn’t, in terms of programming. How about we save the not-successes for rumination at a later date. I’m feeling positive today.

Stuff that TAB organizes

TAB is the Teen Advisory Board. They’re an interesting bunch because they’re all popular, superinvolved high schoolers who I never see in the Teen Lounge unless they’re there for a meeting. They’re in the library all the time, but it’s usually in the reference room, where it’s more homework-conducive. Anyway, they’ve got lots of friends and LOTS of ideas. Our two most well-attended events were managed by TAB: the talent competition, named (hilariously) So You Think You Can Do Something?, and the TAB Black Tie Party, which was cute because it mimicked a lot of galas that go on here in town. We filled our 170-seat auditorium for the former and the entire mezzanine level for the latter. Lessons learned? Teens are way better than me at figuring out what other teens want to do, plus they can advertise via word of mouth, something I simply don’t have access to (yet?). Also, events like these require a ton of work and it really helps when a whole committee bands together to make it happen.

Stuff with purpose

Teens want to come to events where they know what’s going to happen. So we canned many of our basic get-together programming and instead target programs to specific interests and groups. And for the get-together programs we wanted to keep, we made sure to include very specific program descriptions in the promotional materials. An example: A lot of teens saw our “TeensRead” program and were like, um, what is that all about? But once we added examples of stuff we were going to do — and even better, putting other teens’ stuff on our website — they got it. We do book trailers, playlists, and make crafts related to our favorite books. And then we talk about what we’re reading right now.

Unplanned stuff

Teens don’t tend to put things in their calendars. If they even have them. And it’s hard to get them to come to planned events. What’s easier is bring the program to them. When the room’s full, we pop in with a box of crafts or have an impromptu video game tournament. Along the same lines: A nice compromise between totally drop-in and scheduled is what we call We ❤ Wednesday, which happens every week at the same time — which is easy to remember — at one of the busiest points of the day. We don’t plan what we do ahead of time, but just see who’s in the room and find out what they want to do. Make movies? Decorate picture frames? Play Mario Kart? It’s up to them.

[Written 2/25/10]

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