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
- A smaller group is better
- Have 1 library staff member who is a lifeline to help teens solve the puzzles. Typically teens can ask 3 questions.
- 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
Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.