Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Unprogramming: Recipes for Successful Programming with School-Age Children & Teens

Today, Marge Loch-Wouters and I are presenting on the topic of unprogramming as part of the two-day Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference. In conjunction with that webinar, I want to prompt you, dear reader, to think about unprogramming and to point you toward some resources to help you make it work for you at your library.

To unprogram, ask yourself...

How does what I'm doing in my program connect kids and teens to:
  1. a book or books
  2. an author or illustrator
  3. the library and our services
  4. some aspect of kids' and teens' interests that can connect back to the library?
That's the key question for the key part of unprogramming: the library connection. The answer to this question can be incredibly varied--which is great, because that means your unprogramming options are pretty near infinite. You can aim to connect kids to award-winning books. You can aim to connect teens with your graphic novel collections. You can connect kids to their fascination of disasters and draw resources from throughout the collection. Possibilities for a starting point to unprogram are endless, and your programs are guaranteed to fit library goals when you start with this question.

The unprogramming recipe...

Marge is best at conveying the simplicity that is unprogramming, and so I will defer to her wording here.

So you want to unprogram...

Hooray! Your unprograms can look however you want them to and cover any topic you (and your kid and teen customers) choose. In the unprogramming webinar today, I am talking through a few successful unprograms we've offered here at my library. You can get full program write-ups for these unprograms at the following links:
Marge and I have also been curating a Pinterest board rife with unprogramming ideas, resources, and program plans. Check it out and get unprogramming!

If you want to share your own unprogramming experiences...

We want to hear about them! Share your successes by using #unprogramming on Twitter.

The complete slides for Marge and my presentation are below, and the archived webinar is accessible here. Enjoy, and sound off with any questions or comments!


  1. This was great information Amy! I gained some good insight and can immediately put the 'unprogramming' idea to use with my next school age program (next month!)!! I really appreciate the sharing of the pinterest board too - I can't wait to check it out. Thanks for making these kinds of webinars accessible and super helpful.

    1. Thanks, Kathleen! I'm glad you've found the info useful. I hope your next unprograms go well--and if you'd ever like to guest post about an unprogram, just shoot me an email amy.e.koester (at) gmail (dot) com

    2. Thanks very much Amy for the invitation. I will gladly fill you in on my program afterward. I'm so excited about doing it this new (to me) way! My excitement and the empowerment I gained from you and Marge surely has to carry over to the kids, right?


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