Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Teen Advisory Board Lock-In, Round Two

Last summer, when my library district's teen department put together our first all-TAB lock-in--an after-hours event for members of the various branches' Teen Advisory Boards--we had an inkling that it would go over well. And it did; these library-loving teens were psyched to have an exclusive library experience just for them and their peers. So of course we realized we'd need to offer the program again this summer. Which we did, last weekend.

Once again, we had two requirements for teens who wanted to attend our after-hours (although not overnight) lock-in: 1) they needed to be an active member of on of the branch Teen Advisory Boards; and 2) they needed a permission slip signed by a parent or guardian. We also asked that teens bring to the library a non-perishable food item to donate to a local food pantry, although that part was optional. Lest you think our teens are slackers, let me tell you our stats: our 74 attending teens donated a total of 115 food items.

Those 74 teens enjoyed a packed schedule of activity options, and they had plenty of time to socialize with like-minded teens who frequent different branch libraries than theirs. Here's the schedule we put together for the teens:

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.: Check teens in, Go over ground rules, Have dinner
     Two of our teen services staff members took on the task of checking in all 74 teens as they arrived, checking their names against our permission slip records. Kids mingled until the pizzas showed up, at which point a long but polite line formed and everyone chowed down. After dinner, another staff member made staff introductions, shared the night's schedule, and went over ground rules (basically, be nice and don't go in off-limit areas).

TARDIS and BMO creation in progress
7:30 - 9:00 p.m.: Activity Stations
     We had a number of activity stations going on simultaneously, and the teens could move from activity to activity as they so desired:
     1) Crafts: I printed out Doctor Who and Adventure Time papercrafts and had scissors & tape available
     2) Adventure Time Marathon
     3) Videogaming: Word on the street is that a few teen boys got really into a dance game
     4) Games: Some teen services staff prepared two different games: Minute to Win It challenges, and also a music game requested by the various branches' Music Clubs. Prizes included galleys and left over summer reading prize books.

9:00 - 9:15 p.m.: Egg Hunt--in the dark!
     Between the library closing at 6 and teens arriving at 6:30, a few staff members and I hid over 200 plastic eggs stuffed with candy throughout the stacks. We figured out how many eggs each teen could get in the first go-round, then announced that it was a free-for-all for the leftovers. Have you tried hunting eggs in the dark? Not as easy as you might think.

9:15 - 10:15 p.m.: All TAB Meeting
     It's really important to these kids that they get the chance to share feedback with one another and find new ideas to bring back to their individual branches, which makes this all-TAB meeting a vital part of our lock-in. The head teen services librarian made up an agenda of topics for individual branch TABs to discuss, and after 20 minutes the disparate TABs reunited to share their ideas and thoughts with one another. I know my branch's TAB always returns to their next meeting with many ideas for changes and additions to how they do things. (Note: I was one of two staff members present at the lock-in who are not the person directly in charge of teen programming at our branches; while our colleagues facilitated the TAB meeting, we cleaned up.)

10:15 - 10:30 p.m.: Late Night Check-out
     Teens all but demanded we have the check-out computers on and ready to go so they could check out books at the lock-in. We hold the lock-in at the branch with the largest young adult section, so many of the teens are in awe at the plethora of reading options in front of them. Our 74 teens checked out 99 items in that 15-minute stretch of time.

That's one way to carry
another weapon...
10:30 - 11:45 p.m.: Glow-in-the-Dark Capture the Flag
     Long story short: there would have been a riot had we not played glow-in-the-dark capture the flag. I explained the rules and took our group photo before staff split the TABs into two teams (keeping whole branches together). Both teams asked for about 15 minutes of team strategizing before the game officially began. As with last year, one team's home base was the children's wing, the other team's area was the adult wing, and the neutral zone was the lobby and check-out area in between. Staff were armed with Nerf guns and crossbows, and any teen hit by our ammo had to go immediately to jail. Let me stress this point: teens get really into this game. They have complicated attack plans, evasive maneuvers, spies... it can get really involved. This year, both teams hid their flags so well (ahem--kind of cheated, albeit equally) that it took the full 60 minutes of gameplay to have a winner. Intense.

11:45 - 11:55 p.m.: Door Prize Drawing, Gathering of personal belongings
     As each teen entered the lock-in, they added their names to a drawing basket. About a dozen teens were randomly selected as winners in the drawing, and they could choose from a variety of Barnes and Noble gift cards and signed hardback books. Can I tell you how excited it made me to see how excited teens were to win any of these items?

12:00 a.m.: Teens picked up
     All of the teens were picked up by their appointed rides by 12:15 a.m., with library staff monitoring the pick-up process. At that point, all that was left for we staff members was to finish tidying up, put stray items in the lost and found, take out the trash, and lock up.

I am really thrilled with how this second annual All-TAB Lock-in went. The teens had fun, made new friends, and experienced the library in a way that pretty much no one else gets to do. Sure, there's a good amount of planning and staff time that goes into putting on the event, but the teens' sense of ownership in the library after attending hushes any questions of whether it's worth it. Oh, it's worth it.

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