Two Fridays a month teens gather in our little library to play Dungeons and Dragons. We call our program Teen Tabletop. While this may seem like a complete waste of time to many, the program is actually wonderful at developing four key skills identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. Those skills are collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking, also referred to as the 4CS. Perhaps the biggest gain for me is the face to face interaction that the game requires.
Teens have responded by spending a ton of time in the library. Seriously, they are here using our books and chatting about their D&D grams. We’ve also had a lot of new teens join the library community using the D&D program as their gateway which is reflected across the board in teen programming attendance. The program has also facilitated the development of lasting relationships between library staff running the program and the teens participating. The popularity of the program has increased dramatically, when we first started we had six teens attending, we now consistently have 20+ teens at each event.
5 tips and lessons learned:
- Know what you are doing. Don’t try to fake it, play the game first or find someone in your community who will help facilitate the program. There may even be a teen or two who can help out!
- Make the teens stick to the rule book. At least while they learn to play, then let them do whatever they want.
- Play with the teens. This is a wonderful way to develop lasting relationships.
- Pencils. Get those things on Subscribe and Save because they are going to disappear like ice on a hot day. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it just happens.
- Let them be silly. This is a great chance for teens to be silly and creative and themselves. This is the chance they have to do all the things that race through their minds through the school week that they know they shouldn’t do.
Written by Nick Caum
Creswell Library’s (Lane Library District) 2016-2017 statistics from the State Library of Oregon:
- County: Lane
- Population: 8,434
- Registered borrowers: 2,781
- Total library visits: 84,601
- Total library hours in a typical week: 45
- Total paid staff: 3.70
Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.