Programming on the Cheap

We are all experiencing the same challenges no matter what library we work in . . . more teens using the library and less money in our budgets.  Here are some quick, easy and cheap programming ideas:

Art Journals – put those donated readers digests and text books to good use.  Put out the old books, magazines, sharpies, markers, paints, glitter and glue and let teens go to town.  See if you can get a local hobby store to donate scrap booking paper (they can’t sell it if there is a rip or someone has stepped on it) or have staff members bring in scraps of wrapping paper.  The possibilities are endless.  You can see examples of art journals on flickr for inspiration.

Art Journal books:
Alter This!: Radical Ideas for Transforming Books Into Artby Alena Hennessy
1,000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspirations by Dawn DeVries Sokol
The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery: For Collage, Altered Books, Artists Journals, and More by Karen Michel
Journal Revolution: Rise Up and Create! Art Journals, Personal Manifestos and Other Artistic Insurrections by Linda Woods

Quick and dirty – take the same basic concept and make it a little easier. Do a single collage (use big pages from text books or encyclopedias) and use them to create an art instillation in your teen space!

Create Your Own Video Games and MoreScratch is a “new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.”  It was created by MIT and is a wonderful opportunity to take all of the teens you see afterschool everyday and get them to come in and create a game (or story or art piece) of their own.

Quick and DirtyNot enough computers to do a gaming program and the high school doesn’t have room for you in their lab? Have the teens create their own board games.  Have them available to patrons to use or let other teens vote on their favorites.

don't judge a book by its movie by rauchdickson.Book and a Movie – So many of our favorite books have been adapted for the silver screen that it is the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast.  Most libraries have the abilities to show movies so why not make the most of it?  Show the movie, have a compare/contrast book discussion or book vs. movie trivia contest.  Pop some popcorn if you have it and let the screening begin!

Mia Cabana of West Springfield Public Library had the wonderful idea to create a movie “prize pack” that consisted of a pack of microwaveable popcorn, a blank “Movies I Want To See” list that we laminated with some magnet tape stuck on the back so it could be used as a dry-erase board, and a dry erase marker. Bundled together with some clever packaging it looked more exciting.

Quick and Dirty – Twilight, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia. . . there are a lot of book discussions and trivia questions already floating around on the internet to make the most of your precious time.

Use ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em– Is someone on staff a photography enthusiast? A knitting nut?  A video game addict? A health guru?  Use the skills of the people that are already in your library to help you develop a program that you don’t have the skills to create on your own.  They probably have the materials and the know-how to create a program that you could never afford on your own.

Quick and Dirty – When was the last time you used your juggling skills or slight of hand tricks?  Remember that box of yarn, cassette tapes or baby food jars

What programs are you running on a shoestring?


Book Discussions for Boys Can Attract Girls

stormbreaker coverBoys in library programs have always been the holy grail of YA librarianship but, that doesn’t mean the ladies have to be left out.  The Plainfield (IL) Public Library started a teen book discussion this summer.  The Alex Rider Series was chosen because of it’s popularity and fast pace and appeal to boys.  When the book club finally took place the club was split between boys and girls.

My own stereotypes led me think that a series about a teenage spy appealed only to boys.  I was pleasantly surprised that we had girls at our discussion and I thought it would change the dynamic of the group and create different conversations.  Again, my stereotypes were dead wrong.  The girls were talking about how cool the explosions were or how tense a fight scene was as much if not more than the boys.

lightningthiefSome of the success of the program was that it was billed as a “Teen Book Club” and didn’t have a gender associations.  Also signing up for the discussion in conjunction with our summer reading program helped.  We will finish what is published of the Alex Rider series in the second week in September and will move on to the Percy Jackson series.