October 12, 2015 at 10:40 am #2477
This is not my “official” forum post but I will probably be cutting and pasting some thoughts from here into that. Just wanted to share some of my experiences with delivering children’s programming at a public library.
First of all, it is a lot of fun! (but can be exhausting!) We present a program of events for pre-schoolers throughout the week including babies books and rhymes, toddler time and story time. With the new ‘First Five Forever’ initiative we are actually putting more of these sessions on (e.g. 2 on wednesday instead of 1) and there is more of a focus on developing literacy. I never thought when I started working at a library I would basically be performing ‘playschool’ songs to tiny humans.
Our school holidays activities take on a variety of forms, from craft/maker-space type activities to games and workshops. There has been a trend (in brisbane libraries at least) away from including children’s entertainers unless they have a literary/educational link. Same goes for the craft activities, they are all (supposed to) link back to books, stories, or have some type of literary element. Some of the activities we present kind of come pre-packaged (i.e. there is a kit or a folder or something, open it up, photocopy a heap of stuff, and away you go!), and some we have to prepare from scratch (but usually building on existing materials or an existing kit).
A couple of sessions I have really enjoyed –
One was playing a game of ‘Gloom’ with three young lads at one of our boardgames afternoons. Gloom is a storytelling card game where each player is in charge of a family. The object of the game is to play cards which make your family members more and more miserable, whilst improving the mood of your opponents. The cool thing is that it is a STORYtelling game, you have to create a bunch of events to link the last card played on a character to the card being played now, and then be able to remember what has happened to various characters and work that into each play. These kids did a fantastic job of continuing the story on each turn, I was so impressed, and also thought “Yes, this is one hell of a library game session!!!”
Another activity I am quite proud of was a recent one I designed as part of our ‘Fandom Haven’ event. The Fandom Haven is designed to attract YA/teenage age group of people. We’ve had a few where we actually succeeded in getting a fair number of teenagers along, but sadly sometimes we end up with maybe 3 of our target audience and the rest of the group made up of younger children (< 10) More on that later. This time wasn’t too bad… we had about 15 attendees, (5 of whom were actually teenagers!!!!!). The fandom haven is for people who are fans of sci-fi/fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopian fiction, and general YA genre fare. We have activities such as a badge maker, play movie trailers on a screen, encourage discussion about different books/movies, encourage people to bring along their own collectibles (we have often had a display cabinet full of cool collectibles brought in by staff members), and usually run a trivia session. This time instead of trivia I decided to run a scavenger hunt, were participants would read clues that are loosely related to a book series or genre (this time I used superheros, Harry Potter, Dystopian fiction and Doctor Who). Unlike trivia, the clues were written in such a way that you didn’t NEED to be knowledgeable about any of these topics, but we furnished each team with an i-pad so they could use the library catalog and set them loose in the library to find library resources based on the clues. That’s right, I TRICKED THEM INTO LEARNING HOW TO USE THE LIBRARY!!! MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Anyway I thought it was a pretty successful activity and I got a buzz out of watching them apply the clues to catalog searches to try and find the books and DVDs that when found, would earn the winning team a dual movie voucher! In the end I gave our second dual movie voucher to the team which placed 4th, because they were the most age appropriate. (The Scorch Trials is rated M).
Our holiday events (I am proud to say) are very well attended… by young children. I have a theory about this. Up to a certain age, you pretty much do or go along to anything your parents tell you to (with varying amounts of tantrum throwing, depending on the child). And a big advantage of activities at the Library is that they are FREE!!! So if you are a parent and you attend a library with your children already, chances are you will be signing your kids up for a few holiday activities (Parents, feel free to weigh in here). But then once you reach a certain age (maybe 11 or 12?), I think your own opinions seem to count for more and parents will try and tailor school holiday activities to please you. This may or may not include things that are happening at the Library. So for me, that whole teenage age group is like the ‘holy grail’ for public libraries in terms of engagement and catering for their needs. Sure, we have an x-box (and I would argue that video games absolutely have a place in a library, they are a form of narrative after all), but I have noticed that teenagers… no that’s not quite true, mainly teenage boys do not go much further than that. I’ve also noticed that the overwhelming majority of YA readers who attend my library are female. Boys don’t seem to touch the stuff (in a public library context anyway), unless you count the Manga. Young female patrons also seem less shy about coming and asking for help from librarians, not just for leisure reading but for study as well. There are plenty of young males in the library who are using it for study, but if they are using the books, their searches seem to be far more self directed.
So there are some musings on activities for children and teens in the library! Would love to hear some feedback from others who have run similar sessions OR have ideas on how to engage better with the YA age-group!
- This topic was modified 5 years, 7 months ago by Luke Mysliwy.
October 18, 2015 at 10:53 pm #2587Rachel KersleyParticipant
Unfortunately I don’t have many ideas on better engaging with teens (probably because I’ve never really had a period of not going to the library), though I think one option is to – somehow – make it clear that the library is a space that’s open to them without trying to push them into participating in things or reading, so that they get used to just going to the library and when they want/need something they realise that it’s an option.
Mostly, though, I wanted to chime in on the topic of video games as narratives, because I agree with you so much! Video games tell stories just as much as any other medium, and while it’s possible to argue that some of them aren’t particularly good stories, you could say the same thing about literally any other form of storytelling as well. (And that’s not even getting into the validity of those sorts of value judgements or who gets to decide what counts as ‘good’…)
October 18, 2015 at 11:08 pm #2588
Just wondering if you (or anyone else on here) remembers any programs/workshops they may have attended at libraries as teenagers or which you think particularly piqued your interest? I remember spending a week doing a stop motion animation workshop one holidays (but that wasn’t run by a library). although I spent a fair amount of time at the library as a teenager doing either research or browsing for books to read, I don’t remember ever attending any workshops targeted at teens. In fact I don’t remember ever seeing them advertised at my library!
October 19, 2015 at 9:19 am #2606Stacey LarnerModerator
I love Gloom! We have it :D. I reckon a library would be a great space to run a D&D (or similar RPG) game too. TBH, as a teenager I didn’t go to the library much. My local library was small and dingy and the lighting was awful. So I just borrowed books and returned them and that’s all I did there. I think a lot of modern libraries are much nicer spaces, but they still have the “this is an adult’s space” feel to them (except the kids’ section, but teens don’t want to hang out there and I don’t blame them).
October 19, 2015 at 11:55 am #2607
I think a great deal of good could be done by setting aside more of a dedicated YA space. some libraries have them, some don’t. our YA shelves are along a wall near the public computers, with the X-Boxes half way along. Not the greatest YA space and there are thoughts of shifting it to another more contained part of the library. I think it would be good to have a comfortable area where teens can just hang out and chat that ISN’T a shopping centre foodcourt or similar.
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