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!

I first held a Hunger Games-inspired program during the Teen Summer Reading Program in 2009, and it was one of the most successful events of the summer. When I learned that The Hunger Games movie would be released just prior to the start of spring break this year, I wanted to again try for a mid-afternoon, vaca-tion-time program. It’s always a risk to schedule events during any kind of break in the school year, but I can’t stay away from the logic that there are bunches of teens who are just home for the week, looking for a little entertainment.

The gamble paid off, and on Friday, March 30 I had a room full of Hunger Games fanatics, eager to see what was in store during this extravaganza. When they entered our meeting room, the first part of the program involved getting a Hunger Games name for the day; we used the site http://www.hungernames.com and as the naming went on, there were some laughs about which teens wound up being related as the web-site’s algorithm released the same last names.

First up for our main activities was The Cornucopia Challenge (we just used theone based on the first book in the trilogy). Assembling all the props on the list takes a little time and some creativity—I wound up making little slingshots, bows, and arrows out of poster board, and covering small boxes in paper and labeling them “fire starters” and “anti-venom.” I divided my group into 2 teams, and one by one, team members went to the “cornucopia” to select an item for their team. Be prepared for some creative interpretations of the story and how they might apply to some of the items. I had some feisty teens who were ready to argue every point given, but some good-natured teasing about how The Hunger Games really isn’t fair, in general, helped settle any problems.

We took a little snack break after the Cornucopia Challenge, and then redid our teams to compete in Hunger Games Trivia. My awesome coworker Sheila Grier had put together categories, point values, and questions to set the game up to look like Jeopardy. It was entertaining to get some really obscure questions in the 80 and 100 point categories that even the most die-hardbuffs couldn’t answer..

We wrapped up our day with a physical challenge and test of skills to impress any game-maker—a bean bag toss! To wrap things up, I held a raffle and gave away a $10 movie theater gift card—which the winning player promptly took to the theater later that day, presumably to watch The Hunger Games!

It was great fun to see the different teens come together, all with the common ground of being very, very, very into this series of books. Almost all of them had read the books, and a few had already seen the movie multiple times. One of my teens, a Hunger Games fan of the highest order, asked to borrow my Cornucopia props so she could replicate the program at her middle school during lunch one day. The spring break timing did indeed work well, as many of these teens said they had been sitting around all week, and I also attracted a few out-of-town teens whose parents had seen the event advertised and felt like it was a great thing for their teen to do while on vacation in Bend. Success, all around!