Fall 2013 OYAN Review: Library Lock-Ins

by Taylor Worley, Creswell Library

Lockins 1It’s 4:00 am on Saturday morning. Do you know where your teens are? In the library! Hosting a lock-in is more than a little intimidating; after all, what is scarier than a swarm of teens hopped up on Red Bulls at after midnight? Never fear, lock-ins can be amazing events that increase your teen patronage and provide the teens with a fun and safe environment. Of course, there is no one prescription for a successful program, but hopefully the following pointers can assist in 
creating your own, unique lock-in event. All of the recommendations come from my experience hosting a very successful lock-in earlier this year.

Registration & Transportation Logistics

Be sure that the parents are fully aware of the event and what it entails. Absolutely get guardian(s)’ contact information in case of an emergency or exceptionally bad behavior.
Require that the teens’ method of transportation home in the morning be disclosed upon 
registration. Who is picking them up, are they walking, or are they taking the bus? Only allow that method of transport to change with explicit permission from their guardian.
Be specific. Something that surprised me with our lock-in was that one set of parents thought we were providing blankets and pillows for all the teens. Be sure you list what types of food and entertainment will be provided. Be very specific about the items that the teens are or are not to bring with them. “Plan on sleeping? Be sure to bring your sleeping bag and a pillow!” Let the teens know when they register if they are able to bring their own TVs, games, and game systems.
We left our doors open for two hours before we locked up for the evening, allowing those teens who were not able to stay all night to participate. This was very well received, and after we locked up we just had to do a head count/permission slip check.
Provide a specific window for pick-up in the morning; 6:00-7:00 am seems to work pretty well.

Rules & Activities

Create a list of rules. Display these rules on poster boards or television screens in each area of the library that will be utilized for the event.  Certain rules are the same as for any teen event. Some rules, like “Please Keep Shoes or Slippers on at all Times” or “Please Don’t Color on the 
Carpet” may need a special spotlight for an all-night event. Also, I recommend extra air freshener and the removal of all Sharpies. (In short, make sure your rules address any special 
circumstances that might arise during the event.)
Plan a wide variety of activities.
Create an art table with lots of goodies. Teens get creative in the middle of the night.
Set up a room that is dedicated to movies all night long. We didn’t select specific films in advance, instead we provided them with a stack of movies that fell within our media license and allowed them to choose their video entertainment. Hint: Find all the PG-13 horror movies you can.
Make sure you have plenty of televisions and game systems, as well as board and dice games. A chaperone skilled in teaching games is also recommended.
Karaoke is great around 2:30am, or as I now call it “their second wind”.
Designate specific areas for food and drink, if desired.

Chaperone it up. Way up.

Let’s be honest, you aren’t going to get much sleep; most of the teens won’t sleep at all. But, you can head off the yawns by scheduling your chaperones in shifts of 2-4 hours. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can be alert, responsible, and retain positive customer service skills all night long. It’s not going to happen.

The number of chaperones is less about how many teens will attend and more about the space. Are all the teens in one big room all night or in multiple rooms/areas? You want eyes on everyone all night long, but without making the teens feel like they are  being watched by Big Brother.

Finally, Enjoy yourself.

Our lock-in was one of the most enjoyable events we’ve produced and it notably increased our teen patronage. This can be an amazing event, especially if you allow yourself to jump in on a game of Smash Bros. or Fluxx. Teaching the teens a new game or guiding them through a craft will create a moment for teaching and connection that you may not get daily. Be 
prepared for some chaos and noise, but it will be fun. I promise.

There is so much more to share! Please feel free to contact me with any questions: youthlib.taylor@