The Library just had our first TAB meeting (via zoom) since pre-covid. We are going to have a teen art exhibit which should be successful because many of our teens have been creating art during their more isolated time. We have a teen that is skilled at making Kahoot! games, so we will be implementing that very soon, and he will get volunteer time for his work–win win! A teen book club (with several free copies for signing up) is beginning with the book Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
The Library has some escape rooms (virtual) and take and make crafts for teen programs. We are working on some Library of Things kits with presentation materials in them per a request from a teacher. Ring lights, tripod stands, iPad holders, lavalier mics, etc.
Ian Duncanson at Beaverton Public Library
The Library is not doing as many programs this fall due to teens feeling ‘Zoomed out,’ but I did just do a couple of college programs with local private college prep counselors. One was applying for college during COVID, and it was very interesting to hear about the changes that people can expect when applying to and attending school this year and next. The other one was on writing dynamic college admissions essays and what admissions departments typically look for.
We are also doing the annual Teen Art Show in November. This year is our 18th art show, and the show will be virtual. Teens can submit their art online and we will have an online gallery to display November 4-18. People will still be able to vote on their favorite middle and high school works for a People’s Choice Award. Full info is on our website.
In addition, we have a creative writing contest going in October. Scary Twitterature challenges teens to write a spooky piece of flash fiction in ~280 characters or less. The full details are on our website.
Finally, I am focusing more on my Teen Library Council this fall. We had our first meeting and a presentation from YouthLine on their services for teen mental health during the pandemic as well as during normal times. They are also recording podcast episodes remotely and helping me to come up with good monthly photo contests, among other feedback and small projects.
Kristy Kemper Hodge at Corvallis-Benton County Public Library
The Library’s Teen Advisors, or SPoBiT members, are focusing on creating an Adulting 101 series for teens, with virtual presentations by community “experts” who can share with teens about personal finances, career planning, job prep, independent life skills, and the like. They’re very eager and motivated, and it’s been amazing so far to watch them work toward this goal. (SPoBiT = Society for the Prevention of Boredom in Teens, the advisors’ self-selected name).
Then, I, with advice from the Teen Advisors, am working on partnerships with local mental health service agencies, including Benton County Mental Health, to offer some non-clinical support services for teens at no cost to the youth. So, we’re talking about offering suicide awareness and prevention classes, support group style meet-ups, and series focusing on learning mental health coping skills around anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation/management.
This idea is very much in the brainstorming stages, but, the Tenn Advisors are also very interested in finding a way to connect with teens non-digitally, through a zine pick-up spot, and care packages, especially care packages for homeless teens as the cold weather months are getting close. Of all our ideas, these are the two that still need a lot more development, though we are all really wanting to make them happen!
The Monmouth Public Library is partnering with Polk County 4-H to deliver a Baking Basics class for 6th-12th graders this fall. This fun, free class will be delivered via Zoom, and last for four weeks, and each participant will receive a baking kit with dry goods, spoons, measuring cups, etc. that the library and 4-H are providing.
This month, we are starting a monthly Teen Mystery Box. Each month is a themed box. Each box will have a library copy of a book checked out to them, some treats, and an activity. I’m also planning on doing some video book talks for our YouTube.
Susan Davis at Josephine Community Library District
To support the online and distant educational needs of their teen population, Josephine Community Library District maintains a dedicated tween and teen online learning webpage of relevant resources that include links to local school district online, distant education information, and the Oregon School Library Information System plus highlights services such as their instant online library card and shelf shopper, a personalized readers advisory service.
This summer was an extremely scaled-down version of the library’s normal Teen Summer Reading program. We did a combination of virtual programming, monthly contests, prize drawings, and book giveaways. The virtual programming was a mixed bag of successes and flops, as you might expect. Some of our more successful programs were doing a Zoom version of the card game “Superfight,” trivia for Percy Jackson / Harry Potter / Warriors / Myths using Kahoot (these were separate programs), Bullet Journaling 101 with a presenter, No bake / no cook snacks, and Kitchen challenge (where teens get to pick the ingredients). I’m pleased to report that the programs were more successful than flop as I look back at the event brochure and remember everything.
Our monthly contests proved to be popular – we had submit a food photo, submit a photo reflecting the theme of “Alone,” and submit an illustrated Haiku. There were gift certificates for local pizza places for two of them as well as a book store gift card. During a normal summer, we enter teens in drawings for random gift cards when they attend programs. Due to the reduced amount of programs this summer, I also opted to add a component where they could once again submit book reviews on the Web site and also be entered. We had done this for years but decided to drop it about two years ago to encourage the in-person participation. Fortunately, we still had the reviews component on the Web site commented out; bringing it back during the pandemic was just a matter of commenting it back in and then advertising. We did not get as many reviews as we did during a normal summer, but I still had a good pool to draw from and I used some of the good quality reviews to create Bibliocommons booklists using the teens’ own words. I did the drawings every two weeks using a combination of Google spreadsheets and the a random number generator.
Most importantly, we were fortunately able to keep summer reading going. There was a Youth Services committee formed last year to take a look at summer reading for kids and teens and recommend changes. One of the things that we decided to eliminate was sign-ups, opting to instead just enter kids and teens in our database when they completed summer reading. This proved to be fortuitous this year and made running summer reading that much easier when the pandemic hit. We created Web pages where parents and / or teens could input their info when they finished summer reading and enter themselves as completed in the database. We purchased 10 book selections for middle school and 10 book selections for high school and created a list for finishers to pick their book from. Initially, the book pick ups were by appointment. We then changed this to walk-up during certain hours, with parents / teens filling out a short sheet at the table so staff could mark them as having picked up their book in the database.
Although 2020 summer reading required extra meetings and a lot of on-the-fly re-imaginings and plannings, I believe that everything worked out as well as possible given everything else going on.
Most libraries tried new things for the teen summer reading program this year. What worked, what didn’t work, and what do you think you’ll try again next summer regardless of the pandemic? Here are reflections from two libraries:
Brianna Sowinski at North Plains Public Library
The North Plains Public Library decided early on that we would focus our efforts for the 2020 Summer Reading Program (SRP) towards getting books, crafts, and activities into the hands of children and teens since many patrons in our service area do not have internet access for online programs. Our SRP spanned July 1st through the 2nd week of August. This timeline was based on what we thought would be the earliest to safely hand out take and makes and to give us time in August to focus on fall programming and remote school support.
We organized our take and make crafts by theme: Friends and Neighbors, Nature, Home Sweet Home, Music & Movement, & Silly Fun. We created the themed take and makes for kids, teens, and adults so everyone in a household could have a craft or activity around the same theme. Teen take and makes included postcard writing & origami, solar printing, DIY Washi tape stickers, hula hoops & headphones, and Emoji stickers & yo-yos. Over the course of SRP we handed out 163 books to teens ages 12-18 and 471 teen take and makes!
We feel that we accomplished a lot this summer for such a small library and the community has given us great feedback. We will most likely be handing out take and makes again next summer but will adjust the number so the library isn’t overtaken by them!
Mark Richardson at Cedar Mill Community Library
While I missed giving out prize books greatly, the library had decent participation (around 200 teens) through Beanstack this year considering all the challenges. The read for a cause supporting the Oregon Food Bank seemed to engage teens a good amount. I’ll definitely try that again next year as I think it’s neat to link reading for a good cause. I’d love to get prize books back too.
I built some other activities into the Beanstack challenge and teens seem to be doing those as well. It’s a good way to lead them to things that you want them to know about.
Most libraries tried new things for the teen summer reading program this year. What worked, what didn’t work, and what do you think you’ll try again next summer regardless of the pandemic? Here are reflections from three libraries:
Celine Vandervlugt at Cook Memorial Library
Despite our best marketing efforts, we had very low participation in our online summer reading program. I think all of the teens were “over” the virtual activities after the spring school chaos. However, the bingo activity I put together turned our very well. I used a template from Canva, posted the bingo card on our web page, and linked it to our Beanstack program. I will try it next year when we can hand out bingo cards, as well as make it available online. We did versions of this for the children’s program and the adult program.
Julie Tibbetts at Lebanon Public Library
Our library had a very condensed summer reading program with one reading log consisting of 7 hours of reading. We had a good teen turn out and the numbers were very consistent with our regular stats. We did a teen take and make and it was a great success.
The craft was a cardboard loom and we provided everything needed to make a small wall hanging. We even made additional kits to meet the demand. We posted a “virtual” Craft Classroom to accompany the kit and posted it on our social media feeds. We have to admit, we had a better participation rate than if we were to do a program at the library. Going forward, we will probably offer a mix of virtual and in-house programming.
Star Todd at Jefferson County Library
For our summer reading program, we had online storytimes and craft kits. For the craft kits, we had a children’s option and a 12+ teen option. For instance, one week we had a princess and the frog theme. The children’s kit had a background with characters and stickers for them to create their own storyboard. It also included a piece of green paper and instructions to fold an origami frog. For the teen kit, there were five pieces of patterned origami paper with instructions on folding a paper crane. Some weeks the kits were the same, like when we had paper journals and pencils, some weeks were different. Our online offerings for teens were thin, just weekly 1-minute book reviews.
The library partnered with the local school districts and made the craft kits available at free lunch sites. This seemed to go well and increased the number of youth reached in Warm Springs, which were low with our traditional in-person programming. We will likely keep the craft kits option next year even if we have in-person programming available next summer.
A webinar by Bryce Kozla, recorded on April 30, 2020.
“It’s been said that the current global crisis is a traumatic event. What does that mean in the context of our work, as employees and as organizations? Bryce Kozla doesn’t have all the answers, but there are a few that can help us to think about it! Learn about the effects of stress on our brains and behavior, and some ideas to harness that knowledge to best work well together to help our community navigate this trying time.
Bryce Kozla is a Youth Services Librarian at Washington County Cooperative Library Services and a trained facilitator in Trauma-Informed Oregon’s “Foundations of Trauma-Informed Care.” This webinar will pull from this training and other resources.
The books on this list were published between November 1, 2019, and October 31, 2019. Titles were nominated by teens and library staff in Oregon. OYAN members voted to select the 20 titles on the list and worked to create a balanced list that includes a variety of genres and diverse titles. Learn more about the annual Book Rave and access past lists on the OYAN website.
Like everybody else, I have been trying hard to stay connected with teens in my community during our COVID-19 closure. My library’s virtual storytimes and children’s videos have been a hit, but reaching and engaging teens is tricky even in normal times!
Virtual Poetry Contest
Every April, the Beaverton City Library runs a National Poetry Month contest for teens sponsored by our Friends group. This year’s contest entry flyer encouraging teens to write Free Verse poems had already been created and distributed to teachers the week before spring break when we closed. I retooled the flyer during the final week of March with these changes:
The entry fields on the form were made typable so that students could save the PDF with their entry information rather than having to print and scan or turn in.
I normally allow up to two entries per person but shifted it to one entry to save myself a lot of shuffling and possible confusion.
I extended the due date to the end of April to make it even easier to write one and submit.
Instead of taking physical entries at the libraries, I added my work e-mail address to the flyer so students could submit their entries by e-mail.
I e-mailed the updated flyer again to all of my school writing and library contacts and encouraged them to pass it on to their students who are doing virtual work. The response has been really good so far and the process is smooth, provided I keep up with downloading and indexing all of the entries that come in. I also loosened up the entry sheet rules to allow students to type their information into an e-mail if they are having problems getting the PDF to fill in on their computers or devices. I will be judging the entries with a colleague and the Teen Library Council via Google Drive and a member of the city’s Web services team will post the winning entries on our site.
The cool thing about doing a virtual contest like this is that it could easily be adapted for any other type of virtual contest you want – photography, scratch game coding and digital art are some of the possibilities I’m considering for the future.
Remote Teen Library Council Meetings
Ending the Teen Library Council’s year before I normally do was another hard pill to swallow. The year normally ends in May, so I decided to host a couple of virtual check-ins / brainstorms via Zoom before then. It’s a good way to get further ideas for possibilities, especially if virtual services continue on into the summer. I create a Zoom link and then send it to members about an hour before the meeting to ensure security. Most of the members connected for the meeting and we were able to do a check-in and brainstorm some potential virtual programs and contests for summer reading as a contingency plan in case in-person programs at the library are not possible. I have been putting together a collection of Bibliocommons Booklists, several with input from the Teen Library Council.
With the school year prematurely over, I will be unable to go to schools to do my regular summer reading and book talk visits. Instead, I will be working with some fellow librarians to put together a series of short middle and high school book talk videos highlighting some new titles to send to teachers who would otherwise invite us to speak in front of their classes. Each book talk will not exceed 90 seconds and we will be editing them into videos with three talks per video by grade level or theme. I find that filming myself doing book talks is actually much harder than going in and doing them in front of classes. I am inherently more self-conscious when I am being filmed and the booktalks really lose a lot without spontaneity and interactivity. This video is an excellent 5-minute primer on what to do and what not to do when you’re starting to make digital content with your smartphone or iPad.
Ian Duncanson is a Youth Services Librarian focused on teen services at Beaverton City Library.