Career Programming


More and more libraries are implementing programs that support teens transitioning from high school to college, careers, and independent living. You have probably heard about or even implemented adulting 101 programs, college test prep classes, and volunteer programs designed more like jobs for which teens have to apply and interview. Have you considered focusing on nontraditional and vocational (trade school) alternatives?

Four year colleges and universities are too expensive for many teens and increasingly competitive to get into. Fewer people are going into trades that require mid-level skills while opportunities in these fields are growing. Many of these careers pay better than those only require a high school diploma, and some of them pay really well.

You can learn more about these trends and relevant library program ideas in Career Programming for Today’s Teens: Exploring Nontraditional and Vocational Alternatives by Amy Wyckoff and Marie Harris. To get you started, I recommend the following online resources:

What is Klamath County Library doing for teens? By Stephanie Goodwin

In recent years, the Klamath County Library has struggled with getting teens involved.  It’s not unusual for us to get 20 or more teens in the library after school, but they are not interested in taking part in any activity we plan even when it’s something they suggest we do.  About 2 years ago I read about the Breakout EDU escape the room kit and thought this would be a fun addition to our library so ordered one.  It didn’t take long for my staff to begin writing their own mysteries and doing special after hours dinner for our teens.  The teens have to pre-register and we limit our participation to 10-15 teens.  They are encouraged to dress up either as a specific character, in a certain time period, or just in their fanciest.  For those who don’t come dressed up we have a box of random items they can use.  Our mysteries have been everything from vampires, to Dr. Diabolical infecting the world, and everything in between.

We have had a great response to this program from our teens.  Often they request we do it every Friday night instead of the monthly/bimonthly schedule we are currently following.  Some of our teens are very creative and come dressed up and others just come for the pizza.  In the end, they are learning how to work in a team (often unsuccessfully), use the library, and tune their critical thinking skills.

A few things we have learned from doing these programs is

  1. A smaller group is better
  2. Have 1 library staff member who is a lifeline to help teens solve the puzzles. Typically teens can ask 3 questions.
  3. Teens do not always catch on as fast as we think they should. The first few we did were way too hard.  We have had to make the puzzles easier.

Written by Stephanie Goodwin


Klamath County Library’s 2016-2017 statistics from the State Library of Oregon:

  • County: Klamath
  • Population: 67,410
  • Registered borrowers: 38,617
  • Total library visits: 315,231
  • Total library hours in a typical week: 52
  • Total paid staff: 33.36

Learn more about Klamath County Library via their website and facebook page.

Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.



What is Creswell Library doing for teens? By Nick Caum


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:

  1. 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!
  2. Make the teens stick to the rule book. At least while they learn to play, then let them do whatever they want.
  3. Play with the teens. This is a wonderful way to develop lasting relationships.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Learn more about Creswell Library via their website and facebook page.

Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.


Fresh Off the Press: 2015 Sprint OYAN Review!

Check out the Spring OYAN Review!

You will find program ideas on making stop-motion videos, starting a crafting club, and providing early literacy programs for teen parents. Plus insights to letting go of your teen council, meet the new OYEA Award winner Aimee Meuchel, an interview with author of Jackaby, William Ritter, and much more.

Download your copy today!


Bigger on the Inside: Doctor Who at the Library

by Barratt Miller, Crook County Library

Crook County Library’s teens love Doctor Who. Like, a lot. They made up a Weeping Angels game during downtime at a program last fall and debate “who’s the best Doctor?” at pretty much every program. (The answer, according to most of them, is Matt Smith.) So it was pretty much a given that we were going to celebrate the 50th Anniversary Special with a Doctor Who-themed Late Night at the library.

Tardis parked in the Crook County Library

Tardis parked in the Crook County Library

Step 1: Build a TARDIS

The TARDIS may look like an ordinary blue police box, but it’s actually a spaceship/time machine…that’s bigger on the inside. Kristen Dyer, one of our awesome Youth Services Associates, built ours using a refrigerator box donated by a local appliance store. She wrapped the box in blue poster paper, used a Sharpie to trace the panels on the sides, and assembled the other details using construction paper, cardboard, and printouts from Publisher. Our light was a chick feeder filled with battery-powered tea lights. I provided the sound effects by playing a TARDIS ringtone on my phone’s app store.

Protip: Don’t tape down the roof of your TARDIS until it’s in your program location.

We assembled the TARDIS in my office and realized that it was wider than the door after the roof was taped down. (This would not have been a problem if we’d been working with an actual TARDIS. Alas.) I had to rip it apart, transport it to the program location, and frantically reassemble it with paper scraps and packing tape. Make sure you can fold your completed box down for easy transport and storage.

Step 2: Feed them fish fingers and custard

 Our teens insisted on the menu. Matt Smith’s first task as the Eleventh Doctor is to feed his regenerating body, but nothing appeals to his new taste buds except the delightful combination of fish fingers and custard. Our meeting room has a kitchenette with an oven, so we cooked up some fish sticks and whipped up a batch of vanilla pudding. To our surprise, everyone loved the food. (We made sure we had Doritos and Oreos on hand–just in case.)

Step 3: Crafts. Because bow ties are cool

Kristen found a bunch of great crafts for the teens to do after they’d eaten. We settled on:

Duct Tape Bow Ties:

Dalek Cubee Crafts:


 We liked the bow ties and masks because it gives teens who didn’t come dressed as their favorite character a basic costume to wear for Step 4. Our teens are such die-hard fans that almost all of them came in costume, though.

Photo op with the Tardis

Photo op with the Tardis

 Step 4: Photo op

Once everyone had their time-traveler look ready to go, we took them from the meeting room to the main library, where our TARDIS was set up. (Since this is an after-hours program, we had the building to ourselves.) Everybody got two pictures with the TARDIS on either their phone or our digital camera. In a perfect world, we would have either printed the non-phone photos off for them or gotten permission to post them on Facebook so kids could snag the digital versions. Once the individual photos were done, we let them do group shots.

 Step 5: Weeping Angels Tag

 Kristen found a set of rules on Facebook:

 We ended up playing a simpler version that a couple of our teens made up. We turned off the lights in the library, randomly selected a Doctor and two companions, and gave them 60 seconds to hide. Everyone else was a Weeping Angel. As long as the Doctor/companion could see the Weeping Angels, the Angels couldn’t move. If the Doctor/companion blinked, if an Angel snuck up on them, or if one of the Angels hid behind another Angel, the Angel could move and tag the Doctor/companion out. The round ended when the Doctor and both companions had been tagged. The Angels who tagged them out became the Doctor/companions for the next round.

 This went really fast; each round took about 5 minutes. It was nice that everyone got a chance to play, but I’d eliminate the “Angels can move if they’re hidden behind another Angel” rule in the future.

 Step 6: Trivia

Since Weeping Angels Tag went faster than we’d planned, we filled in some time with Doctor Who trivia questions Kristen found online:

 Or you could use some other activities. Teen Librarian’s Toolbox has a Doctor Who post with even more fabulous ideas:

Crook County Library "Doctor Who" event

Crook County Library “Doctor Who” event

And that’s that! Not only was this program super popular with our teens, staff lost track of the number of adults who came up to the counter to ask why there wasn’t a Doctor Who program for them, too. So we added a Doctor Who night to our Adult Summer Reading Program schedule and hid the folded-up TARDIS behind a filing cabinet in my office. I can’t wait to bring it out again in August.