Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Cindy Crushes Programming: Programming by Themes, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Want a hot tip about planning, organizing and promoting programming for teens? I like to take a themed approach, which was my approach even before the pandemic. I would find a theme that appealed to my teens and program around it. In the past, I have done themes such as My Little Pony, Divergent, Hunger Games, Superheroes, Anime, Mythology and so many more. Having a place to start when talking about programming is so helpful, and themes work really well.

When we first started doing pandemic programs, we were honestly just trying to see what worked. If we could find anything that encouraged our teens to use our services virtually or for take and makes we would do it. We learned a lot about the teens we worked with during this just trying anything. We could not do the educational programs that we used to sprinkle in. They did not want it. School was too much. We had to remember that right now a lot of what everyone is trying to do is survive. So we decided to focus all of our programs on fun things. We started to go back to what had worked in the past: themes.

We knew Animal Crossing was popular, so we did multiple Animals Crossing crafts. This was the beginning of the themes coming back for us.

Last month our theme was Dungeons and Dragons. We had the craft, the dice bags created by Linden Galloway. I ran my first campaign on roll20 for the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. I also created a Dungeon and Dragons themed escape room. Here is a link to my escape room. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfKSs-dVCAGiCHR8zBu3y9ubiQiGC3VGt2o8rLbbKQ-cNTVPA/viewform?usp=sf_link

We are now planning our themes out. February is space. We are doing two Among Us sessions, One Among Us escape room using google forms, and an Among Us handwarmer craft we are borrowing from another library, Star Wars trivia, and origami.

Yes, some things do not fit in our themes, like My Woodchuck Revolution escape room that is coming out at the end of February. But I think doing themes makes life easier for us. We always do a craft, a trivia session and an escape room using the theme. These programs are the ones we know work well for our patrons.

As someone who does regular programming, themes make my life easier. I can find out what teens like and plan around them. I am curious what other libraries are doing during the pandemic. Are you using themes or are you just doing a similar schedule of programs that you did in the before times? What themes are popular at your library?

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.

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