Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: 11 Tips to Help Us All During Pandemic Programming, by librarian Cindy Shutts

Here are some tips I am doing with myself and my programming.

  1. Be kind to yourself: This is easier said than done. Everything is hard and draining. You have to realize you will not get the same amount of work done as before because you are working through basically an active trauma.
  2. Do not make programs too hard: This is really important because you do not want to overwhelm the teens or yourself. Having programs that are too hard can make you and the teens feel like failures if you both do not get the desired result.
  3. Do programs you care about within reason: This makes the work easier. I got back into Animal Crossing this year which made my life easier. I was able to do a whole series of programs around it. I add within reason because you want to make sure the teens are interested also.
  4. Look at social media to see what teens are interested in: I got a tik tok over the time I was sheltering in place and saw a lot of things that teens are following such as the resurgence of Twilight, Animal Crossing, plants, crafts, and a lot of social activism. This is giving us a chance to see what teens care about. I will warn you not to be creepy. Please keep healthy boundaries between you and your teens.
  5. Keep costs low: Right now attendance is very different than it was before. You have no idea what the attendance of programs will be. We can not hold ourselves to standards that are pre pandemic.
  6. Put Yourself First: This is very hard for people in our profession. We want to help everyone and do everything we can to help our patrons. You can not do your job if you do not keep yourself first. When we came back to work I had a lot of questions for our supervisors and thoughts. They allowed me to help me make my own way back to work. I work on my safety first. If I have concerns about my safety or feel like something is going wrong. I talk to my supervisors. This has been very helpful. I feel much more in control by setting boundaries
  7. Try New Things: You are having a chance to start fresh. Try new program things that you have always wanted to do but could not. We used Kahoot for trivia last week and it was super fun. We have always thought about doing virtual programs and this time has allowed us to use new platforms such as Roll 20, Jackbox Game, and of course Zoom.
  8. Be prepared to have changes: We are working on doing programs that if we had to work from home we could run them. We do not know what the next few months will bring so be prepared to change how you do your program. You have to be flexible when the time comes. My county just got more restrictions and our positivity rate is going up so we are looking at upcoming programs to see if we can adapt them if things get worse.
  9. It is okay to cancel a program: Sometimes things do not work out how you planned them. It is okay.You might have thought your craft was going to be in person but now it is a take and make and it does not work as a take and make. Cancel. You can not control the pandemic.
  10. Let yourself have feelings: It’s okay to be disappointed a program did not work out or no one came. You can feel that. It does not make you weak. This is a horrible year. I am just going to say 2020 is the worst. Your feelings are valid. You are in an active trauma.
  11. Protect Your Teens: There are new dangers in the virtual world. Make sure you practice kicking people out of your virtual program. Use a setting that lets you be in control of the room so that you can protect the teens from harassment. Zoom booming could happen so we use a waiting room and we are using our patron policy in the virtual space. Learn from others who have had issues. We require registration to come to most of our programs.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.