What I learned at ALA: Part 3 – Passive Programming That’s Anything But: Reaching Young Adults Subversively

Taught by Jackie Parker and Kelly Jensen, this workshop offered ideas for low cost programs that require little staff time or supervision.  Here’s the link to their Program Prezi.  The basic idea is that you leave things out or post online and let teens do it on their own time.  This involves things like contests, promotions, surveys, art projects, and etc.  Great for introverted, self-sufficient kids that don’t feel comfortable joining in the group stuff.


Plan – They suggest you put in some upfront time to generate ideas and a schedule for the mini-programs.  Maybe use your teen council to help with this?

Incentives – If you want, they can be low cost things like tickets & coupons, or free books, free printing, fine reductions, extra computer time, etc.

Publicize it – promote it with flyers in the library, facebook, twitter, outreach visits, etc.  Emphasize that teens can participate at any time.  Ask your teen council for advice.

Tip: “Allow yourself to fail.”  Good thing, ’cause I had NO teen involvement for the Shelftalking idea.  Shelftalks are brief reviews attached to the book shelf.  You see ’em all the time at Powell’s.  I set out bookmarks that teens could write on and put in books.  Didn’t work for me, but then I don’t have a lot of teens that just hang out at the library.  Might work well in a larger, busier library.

Program ideas

In the library

  • Spine poetry
  • Games & puzzles
  • Photography
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Cover re-designs
  • magnetic poetry
  • origami
  • secret cards
  • “Guerilla Positivity” – leave out supplies for making pocket poems or heart cards that teens can leave around town for people to find.
  • Creative displays
  • Shelftalkers/tags

Using Technology

  • QR code treasure hunts
  • Book trailers
  • Book playlists
  • App reviews
  • Facebook contests
  • “Guess the book” contests – post the first line of a book or show a cover minus the title.
  • 5 word book recommendations

Create kits or programs in a box they can check out

  • shrinky dink bracelets
  • window painting
  • DIY scratch off cards (example on Pinterest)

Things to watch out for

  • Make sure staff know what’s going on!
  • Don’t put out anything you’ll miss if it gets taken.
  • Offer both low and high tech activities.

That’s it!  Have fun!

Teens Make Their Own Ugly Dolls

Aimee has offered the Ugly Dolls class not once, not twice, but THREE times in one calendar year!
Why? This class seems to have struck a nerve with the teens of Tualatin. LeBrie Rich, a Portland area Felt artist, has been teaching different craft classes for Tualatin Library for over a year now. Last year she came up with the idea of teaching teens how to make their own softies. I changed the name to Make Your Own Ugly Doll and we have hit a gold mine! She first taught the class over spring break in March and had 17 teens in attendance. I had an additional 12 who wanted to get in so I decided to start off our summer reading program with this class again. Again the class size was limited to 15 and we had 32 sign-up! We allowed 18 in that time since some were returnees finishing their dolls from the first class. LeBrie has agreed to teach the class again in October for the teens who haven’t been able to get in. I’m not even advertising the class. I’m calling the teens who have been waiting to get in and inviting them first!
The class is 3 ½ hours with a break for snacks and drinks. It begins with teens drawing their Ugly Dolls. They then create large sized graph paper and scale their creation up for the pattern. They add a seam allowance, cut the pattern and then pin it to the fabric. They cut the fabric, hand sew the dolls, stuff, and decorate. It is an amazingly fun and educational class that keeps the teens coming through the door! I hope all of you consider offering a class like this in the near future for your community of teens!

LeBrie Rich has been a great resource for teen programs, and she used to be one of Aimee’s teens in Eugene. Want to hire her for your library? Check out her website:

Join the Read-in

From Aimee Meuchel, Tualatin PL

Jennifer Wolf, one of our amazing Teen Room Assistants at the Tualatin Public Library, came to me with an amazing program idea that every library in this state can do easily and cheaply! It’s a Read-In! Here’s the description going out for our teens:

1st Annual Teen Read-In!

Thursday, July 29th

All Day

Teen Room

Escape the heat with a good book at the library. The first annual Teen Read-In will include cool treats, hot reads, and prizes galore. Come for an hour, the afternoon, or the whole day! Best beach outfit will win a special prize.

I think it would be amazing if as many libraries as possible also held a Read-In on July 29th at their libraries. We could unify the state and encourage even more reading by teens! Why July 29th? We were looking for a hot day in the summer and the weather gurus said that is historically a hot date! If you really want to challenge yourselves, you could partner with a non-profit and have teens get sponsors for reading, with the money donated to the charity. You could give out special prizes to all participants. This could be huge! Join us in making this a new annual, state-wide event!