Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Don’t Just Play Games; Make Them

We live in a community where teens play A LOT of games but they don’t know much about making them so we decided to create a day long game making bonanza and we called it Challenge Accepted.

Attendance: 84 (6th-12th grades and adults)

Budget: $500 (Game Truck, lunch, dinner, snacks)  We shared the cost of the game truck with the youth department.  You can save money by only offering snacks.

11am-1pm: Create Your Own Super Mario Bros Level or Minecraft Mod

Teens STILL love Super Mario Bros and we used that to hook them.  We used two different programs-Gamestar Mechanic and Pixel Press.

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  • Gamestar Mechanic is done online through a website where teens play levels, similar to the game they are going to design, to acquire characters; obstacle; villains; etc.  Teens can go through a tutorial to learn the basics if you are not comfortable teaching game design.
    • Game Mechanic costs $2/student and you can receive a free trial to test.
    • The teens really liked Game Mechanic and I highly recommend it.
  • Pixel Press-Adventure Time is an app that allows the gamer to add coins, obstacles, and levels.
    • The app is $2.99 and you can upload it to multiple iPads.
    • This game has a steeper learning curve than Gamestar and I would say it’s more appropriate for an intermediate gamer/coder.
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Pixel Press Adventure Time

Minecraft Mods

  • Tynker is an app that allows gamers to make their own worlds.
    • Tynker requires a subscription.
    • You have to have your own Minecraft server which is difficult for a library.
  • Kano is a arduino that can do the same as Tynker. We used Kano because we already purchased them with grant funds.
    • You have to purchase Kano kits for $150-$350/ea
    • Kano provides step by step instructions which is great for librarians who are Minecraft novices.
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Making Minecraft Mods with Kano

1pm-3pm: Laser Tag/Game Truck

Game Truck is a big green truck that come to you to lead games.  We wanted to do laser tag on the library’s lawn as a energy release from sitting behind a computer all day.  It rained that day so we did video games instead.  Teens REALLY loves Game Truck even though it’s just gaming in a big truck.  I highly recommend it if you have it in your area.  You get it for two hours and it costs about $400.

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Inside the Game Truck

3pm-5:30pm: DIY Board Game and 3D Print your Pawn/Die

Cooperative games are all the rage and I wanted teens to learn how to create their own board game.

  • I printed a blank game board from Google Images and stapled it to foam board.
  • I added space for cards like Chance cards from Monopoly.
  • I included space for title; description; objective; rules; and place to design pawn or die

Game Day

  • Teens were divided into groups of three or four.
  • Each group was given a game board, scratch paper, pencils, and colored pencils.
  • I allowed between 5-10 minutes for each item
    • Teens were asked to decide on the description; objective; rules; cards; die design; and title.
  • Teens were then allowed the rest of the time to create their board game.
  • One person was designated to design their pawn or die in Tinkercad-3D printing website.
    • We were able to print one pawn during the program and we told teens to return to pick up their piece.
      • We will print a pawn or die for each member of the group.

6-8pm: Dungeons and Dragons

We do not know how to play so we asked a staff member to be a dungeon master and to teach the basics of the game.  Since libraries are full of nerds, chances are you have a D&D player among your co workers or you can ask one of your teens.

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay is used to make small figurines or jewelry and requires baking to harden.  For our polymer clay programs we advertise it as making mini foods because they are so cute but feel free to do whatever is popular in your community.   We use a convection oven to bake.  If you don’t have a convection oven, ask staff if they’d be willing to donate theirs for the day.

Tips:

  • Provide pictures or videos if you have a big screen TV in your teen room.  Sometimes teens need a visual to get started.
  • Provide utensils for cutting and designing.  We put out toothpicks, plastic knives and forks.  If you purchase a kit, they provide utensils.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and napkins because if teens use red clay and then use white, the red clay on their fingers will ruin the white.  Inform teens to clean their hands between clay and the utensils.
  • If teens are making jewelry, the metal pieces can be baked.
  • Bake all the figurines together.  Bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Purchase the glue and gloss that’s made for polymer clay.  The glue is for the jewelry pieces and the gloss is to make it shiny.

Have Fun!

Posted in Big Programs

Murder Mystery

We do a murder mystery once a year because the teen love it and it’s cheap.  It does, however, take a lot of work.

Every year we change the theme just to keep it fresh.  The 2016 theme was a Pajama Party and this year’s theme was Library Horror Story. We chose this theme after a recent survey at school visits.  One of the most popular TV shows among these teens was American Horror Story.

Budget: $175 (All of this was the cost of pizza, chips, dessert, and beverages.  You don’t have to serve food.)

Attendance: 32 (Mostly high school)

Theme: We marketed the murder mystery as Library Horror Story but the actual theme was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  We did not tell teens it was based on the Christie novel but our teen actors were aware.

We stuck to the overall premise of the Christie novel.  We sent out invitations to our teen regulars and included additional invites to give to friends.  In the pictures below is a character card where teens could come dressed in character and they were asked to stay in character the duration of the party. Of course this was optional.  The invite also included one clue.

The Party

It was marketed as a dinner party.  We began with dinner and the remainder of the party was traditional party games-charades; celebrity; sardines (hide and seek).  The party ended with the guessing of the killer and the motive.

The Script

If you are familiar with And Then There Were None, great.  If not, it’s difficult to describe so I suggest you watch the movie or the recent two part tv movie.

We had seven teen volunteers and five of the teens were suspects.  The other two teens were the wait staff.  Each suspect had to stay in character for the duration of dinner (3o minutes).  After 30 minutes, we played a recording-very similar to the novel.  FYI-we created a perfectly timed playlist on Youtube and the recording was part of the playlist.  We played the playlist through dinner and the wait staff informed our suspects when to sit to get ready for the recording.

During each of the party games, the suspects were being killed off one by one.  If you are familiar with the novel, you know that all the suspects die but one faked their death.

Here’s the Google Doc to the script. Here’s the Google Doc to the minute by minute outline that staff used.   Feel free to use them.  If you decide to change them, please save a copy in your own Google Drive first before you edit. Thanks.

Here’s the recording that’s played after dinner.  Excuse the All The Bright Places book cover.  You can’t add an MP3 to iMovie without an image.

 

Here’s a summary video

 

 

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Drones

Everyone knows what drones are but I’m sure you have lots of questions before you add them to your programming.

  1. Are they expensive? That depends on what you consider to be expensive.  We used Parrot Minidrones-specifically the Rolling Spider and they are $50 each on Amazon.
  2. Are they safe for teens? Yes. The youngest teen in our program was 10 and she picked it up very quickly.
  3. Can you do more than fly them? Yes.  We used the Tynker app to code our drones.  Teens were given code and they were able to write their own code.  The Rolling Spider can crawl up walls and across the ceiling. It can also takes pictures and videos.
  4. Can you fly them indoors? Yes.  The Rolling Spider is lightweight and if the wind gets it, it will fly away.  We also have a 10 foot ceiling at our library so you may want to test it if you have low ceilings.
  5. Do drones break easily?  No. Our teens crashed their drones all over the place and the worst thing that happened was a bent propeller.  You can purchase replacement parts.  We also kept the wheels on and that served as a buffer.
  6. How long do the batteries last?  For the Rolling Spider, the batteries only last 5-10 minutes and it takes about 20-30 minutes to recharge.  The only way to fix this is to buy LOTS of batteries.  We have five drones and twenty batteries and this worked out well.

Drones are an investment.  We spent @$350 for five drones, twenty batteries, five battery chargers, and replacement propellors and body parts.  It is expensive but you can use them for several programs so if your library has a strict per person budget system, repeating the program several times is cost effective.

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Coding with Cardboard

Coding with Cardboard-Hummingbird

Participants can create whatever their hearts desire with cardboard-cars, robots, Harry Potter.  They decide how the want it to move.  Their creation can blink or swing.  It can move with a voice command or a motion sensor.  Then, they attach a servo and lights and code it using drag and drop.

Budget-$200-$1000 (Yeah, it’s not cheap)

Materials Needed:

  • Cardboard
  • Hot Glue
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hummingbird Kits-Two to three teens can work in groups to cut costs.
  • Computer

Time Needed: Minimum-4 hours

  1. Have participants decide what they are going to make and how they want it to move. For example if they make a car, does the door swing open? Do the headlights blink?
  2. Have the participants make their creation out of cardboard.  This will take about two hours.
  3. Have the participants attach the LEDs and the servos (the gear that makes something swing).
  4. Download the offline version of Scratch or Snap.  There are video tutorials on the Hummingbird site to help you.

It seems easy but it’s challenging enough to keep your advanced makers engaged.

 

UNBOXING VIDEO

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Putting the A in STEAM: Interactive Mural

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If your teen patrons/students are anything like the ones in my library, you probably have a group of teens who are into anything tech and then you have a group of teens who sit and draw for hours.  All of your tech teens are planted behind a computer coding and 3D printing and you can’t pay your artsy teens to attend any of your tech programs.  What’s a teen library worker to do?  Combine tech and art with interactive art.

Electric Masterpiece

Time Needed: 2 hours

Materials Needed:

  1. Ask the teens to draw something that has a lot of sound.  We used an example of beach scene or a house.
  2. The touch board holds twelve sounds.  If you have one board/teen that’s great but if you only have one board for multiple teens, divide the sounds among them.  For example, we had six teens and three touch boards so each teen could have an art img_3045piece that could have six sounds.
    1. Have the teens decide what sounds they are going to incorporate before they begin drawing.
  3. Have teens draw their picture and draw their circuit lines.  The lines should extend to the border of the paper.
  4. Using conductive paint or copper tape to cover their hand drawn circuit lines. We used conductive paint. The advantage to copper tape is no drying time.
  5. If you are using the touch board: (We purchased the kit which came with paint, touch board, alligator clips, and a speaker.)
    1. Have teens find MP3’s that represent their sounds.  We used zapsplat.com for free MP3 sound effects.
    2. Insert the mini SD card the add tracks. Name each track as Track000; Track001, etc. (The touch board will provide downloading instructions.)
    3. Replace the SD card into the touch board and test by touching each number.img_3053
      1. Troubleshooting: if your touch board isn’t working:
        1. Make sure the speaker is turned up.
        2. Make sure you are using MP3’s.
        3. Turn the touch board on and off.
        4. Press the reset button.
  6. If you are using Makey Makey: (Makey Makey can only hold up to six sounds)
    1. Download Soundplant on your computer.
    2. Find sound effects. You can use zapsplat.com.  Assign the desired sound effect to the Makey Makey.
  7. Use alligator clips to connect the touch board/Makey Makey to the art piece.
  8. Touch the conductive paint/copper wire to make the art piece come alive!

Interactive Mural

Time Needed: 4-4.5 hours

Materials Needed:

  • Conductive paint
  • Drawing softwareimg_3146
  • iPads or computers
  • Cutting machine 
  • Microphone
  • Computer
  • Recording software
  • Vinyl
  • Touch board
  • Speaker
  • Flash drive plug

Please make sure you can paint on the walls before you can begin.  It’s not permanent because you can simply paint over it.

  1. Have teens draw a picture digitally.  We used iPads and the free Adobe Draw app.
  2. Use a cutting machine to turn their picture into a vinyl stencil.
    1. We used a Silhouette machine but you can use Cricut
    2. If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can have teens cut a design onto stencil material.  This requires an Exacto knife so perhaps this can be done with older teens.
      1. You can also use precut stencils and allow teens to create a mural with stencils.
  3. Press the stencil onto the wall.
  4. Paint the stencil with conductive paint.
  5. Allow 20 minutes to dry.  We used fans to speed up the drying process.
  6. Draw lines with a pencil from the stencil to the touch board.  Make sure the touch board in near an outlet.
  7. While the wall is drying, have teens record their own MP3 sounds or phrase.
    1. We used the voice recording software that came with the computer.
    2. Make sure your recorder uses MP3 files because the touch board only uses MP3’s.
      1. Our voice recorder used MPA and I had to use an online file converter to change them into MP3’s.  I used Zamzar.com.
      2. Assign the sounds to a number on the touch board. Make sure the numbers/circuits won’t cross lines on the wall.
  8. When the stencil is dry, peel it from the wall.  Pick out the insides.  We used the pick 20161217_114434utensil that came with the Silhouette.  You can probably use tweezers.
  9. Use conductive paint or copper tape to make your circuits.  We used copper tape because there’s no drying time and it was easier to connect to the touch board.
  10. Mount the touch board.  We used Command strips.
  11. When you mount the board, it will be raised from the wall and won’t touch the copper tape to complete the circuit.  I put copper tape on top of touch board. It looks messy but it will work every time.
  12. Test your circuits!
Posted in Big Programs

Murder Mystery: Death at a Slumber Party

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The Cast

We have found that teens love murder mysteries so that’s why we do one every year.  To keep it fresh, we do a different type of mystery every year.

There are several advantages to a murder mystery program.  They are incredibly cheap to host.  You can purchase a kit but if you have the time to write your own scripts, you can save a lot of $$$.  Our murder mysteries run between $50-$100 and this is food and supplies.

The Script

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Tiffany & the jealous bestie

Teens like to perform and chances are you have thespians among your regular teen members.  Get your teens involved in the writing process.  We either have one teen write the entire script on Google Docs or invite teens to assist.  Once we have the script completed, we get our teen cast together and give them a script and tell them to learn all their lines.  We made the script open to improve so that teens didn’t have to learn their lines word for word.  This takes the pressure off to be perfect. We have a dress rehearsal two hours before the event because teens are busy and flaky and if you have too many rehearsals, you are running the risk of no shows.

 

 

The Theme

By the title, you can tell that this year’s theme was a slumber party.  This was during the

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Tiffany & the hot jock BF

time that the TV show Scream Queens was on air so we wanted to capitalize on the trend. We presented it like a real slumber party thrown by the stereotypical popular mean girl, Tiffany Van Luxe.   The cast included the hot jock boyfriend, the emo sister, the jealous best friend, the creepy neighbor, and the wannabe.  The activities were that of a traditional slumber party including hide and seek, truth or dare, make overs,  and lip sync battle.

Promotion

We had our main character, Tiffany, come in costume a couple of weeks prior to the event to shoot promo pics and videos.  We then promoted the event with her pics on our social media accounts.  We also asked our other cast if we would take an image of them from their social media to use as posters to place around the library.  The post featured their face and a tagline that asked if they were the murderer.

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#TiffanyTakeover

We snail mailed invitations that resembled a real slumber party invites to all our regulars.  Mailed invites are where we always get the majority of our attendance.

We had a book display promoting the event with the preverbal “chalk” outline in the stacks.

During dress rehearsal, we took pics that could be motives.  These pics were put on Instagram through out the party.  During the party, we told teens to check our Instagram account for clues.

Tiffany Takeover.  We had “Tiffany” take over our Instagram for the week with her snotty comments and pics.

During the party, we told teens that if they take a selfie with Tiffany and post it on their social media, she would give them candy.  This is a great way to spread the word about your parties through teens.

The Party

murder-myster-14Of course teens were encouraged to come in PJs by announcing that the best PJs would win a cash prize.  We of course rigged the contest so that our mean girl host chose herself (Yes this was a bit mean but also funny).

After we figured most teens were in attendance, we welcomed them by introducing the cast and their bios.  We told them that from now until the end of the party, the cast would be in character and that one of them is going to murder Tiffany, the host.  Their job is to pay attention and to try to guess the murder and the motive.  We also told them to check our Instagram for a vital clues through out the party. (This is a great way to get teens to check/follow your social media account).

The party began with dancing.  The cast went around to all the guests in character.  I

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Bro Overs

included a link to our script at the end of this post.  We then did all the activities listed under “theme” and Tiffany was murdered during the lip sync battle by a someone in costume just like Scream Queens.  Teens were then given a sheet of paper asking them to name the murderer and the motive.

Evaluation

One group guessed the murderer but not the motive because as you can guess, teens were caught up in the party and not paying attention to the clues.  Even though no one technically go it right, which no one ever does at our murder mysteries, they still had a great time.  Check out our script on Google Docs.

Most popular activities: hide and seek and truth or dare.

Attendance: 28 teens and a budget of $60

Food served: donuts, potato chips, and flavored water and Tiff Clique Punch.

 

Posted in Big Programs

All Cons Don’t Have to be Comic

 

whocon7Comic Cons are all the rage but who said you have to limit a con to comics?  You can taylor any con to your demographic.  If you have a large community of writers, you can host a NovelCon.  If you have a community of filmmakers, you can host a FilmCon.  If you have a community of fanboys/fangirls, you can host a FandomCon.  We have a lot of patrons who are into Doctor Who so we hosted a WhoCon.  The possibilities are endless.

 

 

Why a Con?

Cons are popular nationwide and they aren’t limited to comics.  There’s GeekyCon for Harry Potter fans and VidCon for Youtubers but these cons are usually in large metropolitan cities and can be very expensive.  Bringing the con experience to your library provides free fun for the entire family.

The Pros of Cons

The great thing about the term is that you can attach “con” after any word and patrons will instantly know what type of program you are offering.

Cons have the potential to attract new patrons to your library.  Many people still believe the library is only for checking out books and being quiet.  Holding a MinecraftCon, BakerCon, CraftCon, or a DroneCon will bring in different citizens and will ultimately get you new cardholders.

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Waiting on their Gallifrey Button

When you attract new patrons and cardholders, you can promote all your special services and collections.

Con Activities

Con means convention so patrons expect to see a variety of activities including crafts, cosplay/costume contests, games, and prizes.  Cons can be as long as you want.  Some cons are the typical two hours and some cons last two days.

  • You can invite local business and organizations that fit your theme.  If you know you’ll have hundreds of patrons, you can have business rent tables and proceeds can go to prizes.
  • Balloon artists and face painters are always a big hit at any event.  They can be costly but it’s a crowd pleaser.
  • Photo booths are also very popular.  You can pay to rent a photo booth from a local company.  This can cost $300 and up but the company does all the work and patrons leave with a picture of your event with your library name and social media contact info.

 

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An Evening with Van Gogh
  • Artist Alleys are usually found at comic cons but if you have any type of artsy or fandom based con, you can include an artist alley.  An artist alley is a cluster of tables where local artists sell their work.  Once again, you can have artists rent a table and it can go towards a prize.
  • Food.  You don’t have to have food especially if your library is surrounded by restaurants.  The drawback to no food is that patrons might leave to eat.  You can ask a local food truck to park outside your library, you can ask for sponsors from local restaurants, you can use table rental proceeds towards pizza.  We usually ask our local boy scout troop to provide hot togs and chips.  Boy scouts usually come with a license to serve food and they do every thing which is great.

 

Challenges of the Con

  • The greatest challenge will probably be your administration and staff.
    • You may have to do a lot of convincing to your board and administration to host a large library-wide con.  Your best argument is that it will attract new patrons and cardholders.  It can also get your library in the newspaper if you invite your local press to take pictures- free advertisement!!
    • Hosting a con takes a village and getting several staff on board can be daunting. The staff most likely to help are the ones who are fans of your theme.  Look for the geeks.
    • A con takes lots of planning and this can also be exhausting.  If you are interested in hosting a con, make sure you have lots of time and patience.

WhoCon

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As I stated earlier, we have a large community of Doctor Who fans.  How do I know this?  During our regular school visits, we asked teens to fill out a short survey.  We listed every popular fandom including Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, and anime/manga and we asked teens to circle their favorites.  Doctor Who was the most popular after Harry Potter.

Activities:

  • Life Size Guess Who-We printed out Doctor Who characters and played the game like the board game version.
  • An Evening with Van Gogh-Recreating a Starry Night with the TARDIS-Participants had to recreate the Starry Night painting from the Van Gogh episode.
  • Gallifrey name buttons-We used a name converter website and made the conversions into a button.
  • Green Screen Photos-Participants chose between two preselected pictures to use as
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    Green Screen

    their background.  Their pictures were printed for them to take home.

  • The Silence Scavenger Hunt-We hid pictures of The Silence all over the library.  Participants received a five-clue sheet and were told to take a selfie with each Silence they found.  They showed the activity leader their five pictures to receive Jelly Bellies.  You can also have teens tally their arm for every Silence they find for added affect.
  • Doctor Who Trivia with Kahoot-We created two 20 question trivia games on Kahoot.
  • 10 Different Ways to Wear a Bowtie Craft-Simple bowtie craft with felt.  Participants were given key chain holders, earring backs, and pin backs for crafting.
  • Costume Contest -A picture was taken of all participants.  All other program goers were encouraged to vote with stickers.

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The most popular activities were the Gallifrey buttons, Kahoot, and An Evening with Van Gogh.

Stats:  75 participants, $120

For more information on Cons, please visit our 2016 ALA Annual Presentation

 

Posted in Big Programs

National Poetry Month

Passively Cheap Poetry Programs

Haikus and Hershey Pie

Traditionally Haiku’s are about nature but we didn’t want to limit their creativity so teens were able to write about whatever they wanted.  The Haikus were placed all over the library. Then we served pie. $6

 

Posted in Big Programs

Anatomy of the Author Visit

The Anatomy of the Author Visit on a Small Budget

Because we are located in the far northeast corner of Illinois, about 1 hour north of Chicago, our teens don’t get many opportunities to meet authors. We, at the Zion-Benton Public Library, decided to bring local YA authors to our town. If you are looking to do the same, here’s how we  did it:

The Planning: Nine to Six Months Prior. What Month Should I Plan For?

  • If you live in a town that has long winters like Illinois, it’s best to avoid late-November to March.  This year, it snowed in late March.  We do our author visit in April.
  • However, April is also the month for most book festivals and if you live in a small town and want big authors, avoid the month of April and November. TexasBostonNYSouth CarolinaCalifornia, & Virginia have big teen festivals.  If you live in these states, check the dates of these festivals and avoid that month only because authors might not be available.
  • If you rely heavily on school promotion, you might want to avoid the summer or have it in early June and promote it at the end of the school year.

 

 

How do I get Authors?

  • Make a list of all the YA authors that live in your state.  Here’s YALSA’s list. Other ideas: Google it, check authors who visit your local bookstores, check the author page in teen books as you read them, many times authors put their hometown as the setting in their book.
  • Once you have a list, visit their website for their contact info.  If you email them and they aren’t responding, tweet them.  I do it all the time and they are very nice and they answer within the same day.
    • Have all your information prepared-date, time, event name, theme, projected audience.
    • They will probably DM (Direct Message) or email you to negotiate fees.  If their fee is too high, politely decline and they will most likely lower it or ask you what you can pay.
  • The earlier you book an author, the better.  It is not uncommon to book them nine months in advance.
  • Check their events page on their website. If they will be in the area for a different visit, they might be willing to visit you.  This is especially great if it’s a bigger name.

How to Get Free Stuff

  • We have a large book raffle or auction at every author event.  We giveaway between 50-150 books, bags, bookmarks, etc.  Here’s how:
    • I try to go to the ALA or Midwinter (American Library Association) Conference.  This is done bi annually and it features an exhibit hall where publishers give away free ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Between me and my co-workers, we obtain about 200 books.
    • You can contact the marketing rep of publishing houses.  I Google the publishing house and find their contact info and rep.  I send a SHORT email explaining who I am and I ask if they can donate books, bookmarks, bags to my event.  I always say the number of teens that will be at the event and I always stress that we are giving all books away to deserving teens.
    • Our library is a participant in the Baker and Taylor ARC program.  Every two months or so, BT send us about 20 ARCs for library staff and teens to read and review.  After we have read and reviewed the books, we save them to give away at our events. Honestly, I don’t know how we became participants. I would suggest asking your BT rep.

 

 

The Planning: Three to One Month Prior How do I get Teens in the Door?

  • We sent letters to homeroom and English teachers and asked them if they would circ the book from the featured author among their classroom. We also let them keep the book for their classroom library. We of course included the event flyer.  Several of them accepted and we purchased books and mailed them.
    • Instead of circulating the books, the elementary teachers read the book in class. This was even better because it reached more students.
  • Two weeks prior to the event, we sent the same teachers VIP tickets to pass out to the students who they think will come to the event.  All students of course are invited.
    • VIP included an ice cream sundae bar, a SWAG bag, front row lounge seating, and copies of the author’s books to the first 15 teens in the door.
      • You can make your VIP experience however you like.
  • One month prior, we sent VIP tickets and special invites to the teens who come to programs regularly.  The special invites have an incentive-teens receive a raffle ticket to every friend they bring. This is usually good for 10 teens who probably would not have attended the event.
  • We have a monthly book discussion group.  We had our group read the book by the visiting author.  This is to get them excited about meeting the author.
  • In house marketing is always important.  We do large displays of the theme and the books by the visiting author. We put event info in our new and popular books.
  • If you are worried about attendance, a good idea is to contact your local high school to see if any teens need volunteer hours.  Teens ALWAYS need hours to graduate.  We have the volunteers come 1-2 hours before the event to help set up.  They receive duties such as helping at the door, monitoring the food table, taking pictures, etc.  I then have the volunteers be an audience member during the author visit.  This way, you are filling the room.

 

The Authors

  • One month prior, I check in with our visiting authors.  I email them the itinerary.
  • Two weeks prior, I check in by providing my cell number just in case they get lost or have questions.

 On the Day of the Event

  • Photos.  We usually have a photo booth and a frame for their photos.  Somewhere on the frame we put our Facebook address for teens to see other photos and to like us.
  • Authors are the main priority.  Have a quick bio prepared, have water, and a thank you bag.  Our thank you bag consists of our library’s promotional items.
    • Always stand by the door so that you can greet them.
    • Show them where they can put their purse.
    • Explain what’s happening now and in the next hour or so.
    • We let the authors mingle with the teens before the event.  They’ll take pictures and sign books.  There’s always time at the end for signing and pics but sometimes teens get excited and they want to do it now.  That’s okay because it cuts down on the time it takes to get things signed at the end.

Other Program Activities We turn our author programs into an event.  It is always after hours and it is always 2.5 to 3 hours long. It’s basically a mini-festival.  We have found that we get more teens when it’s after hours than on a Saturday.  This is especially true if you live in a town where there’s nothing to do. We have a mall and a movie theater but they are 20 miles away whereas the library is only 5 miles away. If you can do an activity that’s based on pop culture, you’re more likely to get a higher attendance. For example, do an activity when a YA book is at the theater- Maze Runner, Paper Towns, Me Earl and the Dying Girl. Some other activities we’ve done during our visits:

 

  • A scavenger hunt-Maze Run, photo scavenger hunt, murder mystery.
  • Book speed dating
  • Craft related to the theme or genre

The Fan Favorite Book Raffle/Auction As I stated above, we do a large book raffle or auction after our author events.  Here’s how it works: If it’s a raffle:

  • We lay all the books out on the table.
  • We put a basket on the table
  • Each teen receives the double sided raffle tickets.
    • This is where more raffle tickets become an incentive.
      • If they bring a friend, they will get x number of tickets.  You can taylor it to your liking
    • We usually only allow them to win up to two times.  It will of course depend on the size of your group.  One win might be more fair with a large group.
  • Before the raffle, I remind teens several times to visit the table to see what book they want. Otherwise, during the raffle, they will take forever to make a decision.

If it’s an auction-This is more difficult for staff but it’s more fun for the teens.

  • In the invites, we tell teens how they can receive more points.
    • Following us on FB, Instagram, etc (If they don’t have social media, they can have their parents follow us)
    • Bringing friends.
    • Posting pics of themselves at the event to their FB, Instagram, etc
    • Best craft, or Photo Booth photo
    • Winning the scavenger hunt
    • Asking the author a question
  • Before the auction, we tally everyone’s points and post them on a dry erase boardaah 159.  The tough part is having the teens prove their social media posts.  As a staffer, you are busy and then teens are interrupting you and showing you their posts and you have to stop and add points by their name.  It just gets crazy. If you can dedicate a staffer or a teen volunteer to monitor the points, it’s helpful.   It’s also tough during the auction to subtract points as they win.  Once again, an extra staffer is helpful.
  • It’s then run like an auction.

Author visits are stressful but it is worth it when you see the little faces excited to meet the person who wrote the book they read. Our author events usually cost between $650-$200.