Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: Tips for Me, and Maybe You Too, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

So at my library I have begun to program in person again. It has been a challenge for sure. The first program I did was a pirate themed scavenger hunt. I had no one sign up. I did get two to do it who had walked into the library. Then I did a backyard clean up of the library for volunteering. It was eventful. We got locked in the courtyard. Oops. We found a dead animal. We also found trash that should have not been left under our tree. So I started to remember what in person programming was like. I have to remind myself that everything is different. Here are the things I told myself:

  1. Low attendance is okay: Not all teens are vaccinated. I would rather teens be safe than sorry.
  2. We are starting over again: A lot of my teens aged out and I have not been doing school visits because of Covid so the younger teens do not really know me and what the library offers to teens.
  3. Do not spend a lot of money right now: We do not know how the attendance numbers will be so try to not do programs that will take up a lot of our budget.
  4. Keep doing some virtual programs: We know that some teens can not get to the library right now and this is a way to keep them engaged with the library.
  5. Try to not do too many educational programs: Things are hard and teens want to have fun and be able to take their minds off the pandemic.
  6. Do not over program: This is the number one thing I have to tell myself. I love doing programming but quality over quantity is key with programming.
  7. Be kind to yourself: You are dealing with a lot right now. The pandemic is still here and does not seem to be going away as much as we wish it would.
  8. Let things go: If something happens and you have to cancel a program that is okay. Things happen. It does not make you a bad person to cancel a program.
  9. Listen to the teens: This is what I have been doing the most. I am trying to do stuff that they want to do. Not things I think are cool. They are going through a hard time. We have to try to help them.
  10. It’s okay to be upset: If a program goes wrong it is okay to be upset and feel those feelings. You do not have to lie to yourself about how you feel.

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.

Boredom Busters, Brain Builders, and Creativity Connectors for Teens, By Lisa Krok

Like many libraries, we have experienced a scarcity in teens during the pandemic due to different restrictions. As some of these are gradually being lifted, I have been brainstorming ways to keep them engaged as they return. In the before times, we did not have much turnout at planned in-person programs. I suspect this is due to transportation, as the library is not walkable from the local schools. We seemed to get best results in more spontaneous, open-ended programs. If a group came in, we would sometimes throw some popcorn in the microwave, grab some board games and head to  our meeting room that also has a bank of computers off to the side. We have video gaming consoles in there, so between the board/video games and computers, the kids would happily munch their popcorn and hang out. We ended up calling these “Teen Hangouts”.

Pre-pandemic, we had a computer lab with about 20 computers in a relatively tight enclosed space. Obviously that is not a good idea now, so the computers were dispersed in groups of two to four throughout the building. When our library first reopened, we had a small number of computers by appointment on the first floor only. With the teen department being on the third floor, they had no choice but to use those first floor computers, where some adults were sometimes not understanding of their developmental levels, needs, and volume. Something needed to be done to accommodate the teens who were returning and needed to feel welcomed in the midst of restrictions.

Step one was to get some computers placed in a space that was just for teens- obviously the teen department, right? We have designated some computers that have teen priority (during the school day if teens are not there, adults may use). CHECK.

Step two – how to engage these teens so they can just drop in when they are able and have a variety of things to do?

I decided to create a cart that would be like a portable program on wheels that could be used in the teen room or taken to a meeting room to use along with snacks, video gaming, and other activities. I began searching through different types of carts. Typical library book carts from Demco were out, due to flat surfaces and high cost. I wanted something very durable that had tray style shelving so that things wouldn’t slide off. After searching the usual suspects (Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc.), I found just what I was looking for in an unusual place: a restaurant supply store. They had the three shelf, tray style model I wanted in a 36” size to hold an abundance of supplies. It is heavy duty and comes in a variety of colors. The wheels lock so it can stay secure in place or use freely to roll away as a mobile program cart. It was shipped requiring minimal, simple assembly that took less than ten minutes. This is what I chose:

Teen cart

Next step – what goes on it? I wanted a variety of things, and a good stock of art supplies. Fortunately, Target had a great back to school sale with free shipping – BINGO! I ordered what I hope is a year’s supply of crayons, colored pencils, markers, scissors, glue sticks/glue, tape, pencils, erasers, etc. Some are on the cart, and a stash of refills is in the cabinet for later.

Uno was very very popular in the past with our teens, so I purchased more of that and some other card games. Some are fun just for fun, and some are mind stretchers like Brain Yoga.

I also ordered clear plastic pencil boxes, which I used to store the art supplies and the card games. A labelmaker was a must- I wanted things labeled and easily organized. I know, as much as teens can be neat and organized – I kept it simple with clear boxes and labels. All of the items listed above are on the top shelf for ease in finding and returning. Also – hand sanitizer, of course!

The middle shelf contains handheld games like mini Etch-a-Sketch, Rubik’s cube, and activities like magnetic poetry, and puzzles. The other half of the middle shelf is a funky neon green 4 letter tray. This is dually purposed for both art and writing. There is plain paper, lined paper, blank comic panels, and coloring sheets. Again, everything is clearly labeled to find and return.

The bottom shelf was the easy part – an assortment of board games including classics like chess, dominoes, and Clue to Giant Uno, Star Wars Battleship, and more. We have more games in the cabinet that I plan to swap out periodically to keep things interesting.

With things changing rapidly regarding the pandemic, we will likely keep this cart as a passive-only program for now and not do the spontaneous groups with the video gaming and snacks, etc. added in. When things are safer, we can resume group programs. Because I am a librarian, of course I put the cart next to a book display- if you build it, they will come, right? I found these great posters of authors from a broad spectrum of demographics and printed and laminated them to place on the wall, then pulled books from those authors. I found the posters on The Dimpled Teacher’s website at https://sites.google.com/view/thedimpledteacher/class-decor . She is fabulous about sharing good free materials.

Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the Adult and Teen Services Manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians (ABC-CLIO). She reviews YA for School Library Journal, is a regular blogger for TLT, and her passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. Lisa has served on both the Best Fiction for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s teams. She can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach

Cindy Crushes Programming: The Dog Days of Summer, by Cindy Shutts

One of my favorite events that my Library district, White Oak Library District, puts on is Dog Days of Summer.  It is hosted at our Crest Hill Branch. It is an annual celebration of all things dogs.  We have many pet rescues come and bring their animals to show off. We are so lucky to have seen animals who were adopted one year come back with their pet parents the next year. We are so excited to be back at this year after having to cancel due to the pandemic in 2020. What is great about this program is must of it takes outside.  This event takes place on August 28, 2021 starting at 10:00am. So if you are in the Illinois area please Join us!

I am having our Crest Hill Branch Manager, Amy Byrne here to answer some questions about Dog Days of Summer. She came up with the idea.

How did you come up with the idea for Dog Days?

I can’t claim full credit for our Dog Days of Summer event; I expanded on an idea a colleague at our Lockport Branch had. Since moving to the south Chicago suburbs in 2010, I noticed that there are A LOT of rescues in the area, particularly dog rescues that are home-based foster organizations without one physical location. The Crest Branch Library has a large outdoor space that’s perfect for outdoor gatherings, and it’s a perfect way to bring dogs to the library.

How do you prepare for Dog Days?

There’s a lot of preparation with many moving parts! This year, I started in March by talking with the store manager of PetSmart in Joliet to see if they were interested in being a partner in the event, and in what way PetSmart would be able to partner. As in past years, they’re donating 200 reusable PetSmart shopping totes with goodies inside.

Next, I emailed hundreds of rescues, veterinarians, clinics, small business retailers, services, nationally-known dog brands, etc. to announce the event and secure their space at the event. At this same time, I contacted Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s office to invite him and his League of Extraordinary Canines to open the day, and Deacon Kevin O’Donnell to offer pet blessings to those who want them – both said yes.

Because this is such a large-scale event, representatives for each of our three Branches are Pack Leaders for the different aspects of the event. The Pack Leaders choose staff to work on their committees to generate ideas, and get all of the work amongst their Pack finished. We have monthly Zoom meetings with the Pack Leaders from March through July, and then weekly Zoom meetings leading up to the event, with an in-person final meeting the week of Dog Days of Summer.

What types of rescues and other animal resources come to Dog Day?

All kinds! We have dog rescues that rescue all kinds of animals, some that only rescue dogs, some rescues that focus on a particular breed, size, or age. Additionally, veterinary clinics, specialty services like canine massage, service dogs, comfort dogs, foundations, trainers, and more. You can see who’s coming at http://whiteoaklibrary.org/Dog-Days-of-Summer

Charm, a good boy

What type of activities do you have for dogs that come to Dog Days?

This year, we’ll have an expanded and fun agility course, customizable bandanas you can decorate for your dog, and a yogurt bar with dog-safe toppings. Additionally, there are a series of contests for dogs and their humans, like peanut butter licking competitions, costume contests, and trick contests. We’re also offering a photo booth with fun props for dogs and humans, and you’ll be able to either take your own photos, or buy a print.

What type of activities do you have for the people who come to Dog Day?

In addition to all of the activities above, there will be demonstrations on canine massage, CPR, etiquette for approaching dogs, the dangers of puppy mills, and how hearing assist dogs change the lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There are also raffles with great items that are donated by brands like Earth Rated, Kong, and FURminator (Spectrum Brands). This year, tickets will be $0.25 each, or five for $1.00, and at the end of the event, we’ll draw the name of one rescue that’s in attendance to receive the money from the raffles.

New this year is a dog food and supply drive that will benefit Wet Nose Food Pantry. Anyone can drop off items, including gift cards, cash, or checks, to any of the three White Oak Library District Branches through August 31st.

For more pet centered programming, check out this previous TLT post:

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.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Let’s Talk Dungeons and Dragons Beyond, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

I recently went to a program run by Natalie Dejonghe. She taught all about how to use Dungeons and Dragons Beyond (DND Beyond). It was really helpful and has given me a few ideas on how to improve my libraries Dungeons and Dragons program. I asked Natalie here to ask her some information on DND Beyond and how she uses it for programming. I really liked it because it help do all the math for leveling characters.

Interview with Natalie DeJonghe

Hello Natalie, Thank you so much for being here. How many years have you been playing Dungeons and Dragons and what edition do you use?

ND: I have been playing D&D regularly for about 7 years, but played a bit here and there since I was a kid. I currently run all my games using the 5th edition put out by Wizards of the Coast.

How does one start using Dungeons and Dragons Beyond?

ND: I think the best way to get started with DND Beyond is to play around with the character building tool. This is a great starting point because the site will walk you through the entire process with tips and links to more information on things. It’s a really straightforward way to start exploring D&D without having to dive into the rule books right away.

How do you use it when programming?

ND: I use it a lot for tracking characters. My players can share their character sheet with me through DnD Beyond and then I can see changes that happen as they level up. There is also a free encountered builder that DMs can use to figure out how many monsters to add to a battle, how much experience it will give players, etc. I also have a lot of personally purchased content on the site so I can also use it to pull maps and adventures.

What is you favorite tip or trick for using the website?

ND: For DMs, my favorite thing is definitely using the quick character build for NPCs. It will give you a fully fleshed out character sheet complete with portrait. I find that this makes keeping track of NPCs in the game a lot easier.

How does it work when playing a game in person versus playing a game online?

ND: There’s definitely more of a learning curve when playing online because it can be more difficult to see the faces of players so you may not realize if someone is confused about something. But I think if you pace yourself and make sure to start out explaining everything, thatit works pretty well. Most of my players have been brand new beginners and we managed to get through things pretty well.

In-person can make it a little easier to keep track of how players are feeling about things, but there’s also a higher possibility of players getting distracted with side conversations. In-person can also be a bit more hands on because you can have large, drawn maps, miniatures, etc. You can have that to an extent in an online game, but being able to actually touch everything does make things easier for many players. Whether you’re playing online or in-person, I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no one right way to run a campaign or play a session. If you’re a player, try weird things.

You’d be amazed at what your DM will let you get away with if you can spin a good enough story. If you’re a DM, remember that while D&D does have a set of rules, as the DM you’re running the story. If adhering too strictly to the rules is going to make things too difficult for players, then adapt as needed. It’s your game. Make it fun for yourself and your players and, in
my opinion, you have a successful campaign.

More DND here at TLT:

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.

TLT Turns 10: 10 of My Favorite Programs Shared on TLT

I currently don’t do a lot of library programming, but I have done 1,000s of library programs, many of which I have shared here on TLT. Here’s a little secret for you: I actually share my program ideas and outlines here so I have easy access to them for the future. I repeat programs all the time, because why not. And I’m not the only one who shares programs here. In fact, teen librarian Cindy Shutts shares programs the first and third Wednesday of every month with her regular Cindy Crushes Programming column. So today, I’m going to share 10 of my favorite tween and teen programs that we have shared here on TLT.

The Summer of Shirts

When I do presentations and I have to introduce myself one of the things that I share is that I know more than 22 ways to change, upcycle, or decorate a shirt – because I do! And one summer, I hosted a summer of shirts in my teen makerspace. This proved to be one of the most successful program series I have ever hosted. I have always found that teens like craft programs where they get to be creative and self expressive AND they get to take something home. Shirts are a great take home!

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

I love button making so much, I own my own button maker! Just as I know more than 22 different ways to make a t-shirt, I know tons of ways to make buttons. In fact, I have found that tweens and teens like having specific button making challenges, so when I found the idea of challenge cards, I jumped!

Virtual Escape Rooms (by Cindy Shutts)

In 2020 when libraries closed, everyone had to scramble to figure out how to still engage teens and keep them safe. Cindy Shutts has been sharing her virtual escape rooms here and I love them! She does such a great job. I think that every library should continue to offer some virtual programs when libraries re-open and virtual escape rooms are a great way to do this.

Live Angry Birds (by Heather Booth)

An important part of teen librarianship is knowing what’s hot and figuring out how to turn it into a program. Former TLTer Heather Booth did just that in 2011 when Angry Birds was super popular. After she blogged about it, I did this program several times at my library and it was fun! It was also cheap!

Instagram Scrapbook

One day I really worried that we weren’t doing enough to promote books in our teen makerspace, so we found ways to make them! And with the popularity of Instagram, it wasn’t hard to find resources to make this happen. It took everything we loved – sharpie art, duct tape crafts, and photography – and turned them into something we love even more: books!

Look, We Made a Lego Wall

Several things surprised me when I started using Legos as part of my MakerSpace programming. One, I was stunned to learn how expensive they can be. Two, I was surprised to learn how many tweens and teens had never played with Legos, in part because of revelation #1. I was also surprised to learn how much tweens and teens needed more specific directions when you offered them Legos. This is, in fact, how I found and began the challenge cards I mentioned above with the button making. If you are going to offer Legos, I recommend having daily specific challenges.

Mini Book Charm Bracelets (by Cindy Shutts)

Jewelry making is a great program because you get to take stuff home. And I love how Cindy turned a popular YA series into book themed jewelry. This is such a great craft idea. And yay for books!

DIY Do Not Disturb Door Spinner (by Kara DeCarlo)

Every once in a while, a librarian contacts me and says hey, can I do a guest post about x, y or z. And if we can make it happen, we do. This DIY Do Not Disturb Door Spinner came about because of the pandemic and everyone trying to do Zoom school, but it’s actually great for any time. Teens love privacy and I think it’s a great idea. Don’t want your sibling knocking on your door because you are doing homework, trying to sleep, or whatever? This door spinner is right for you! It would be a great addition to one of my other favorite programs: Renovate Your Room.

DIY Neon Signs

A lot of the program things I have done over the years have been craft related, and as cheap as possible. But this one time, I did something more expensive and high tech and it was super cool! In fact, I made a neon Space sign which still hangs up in Thing 2’s room. That’s pretty awesome.

Get to Know Your Library (Library Boot Camp)

One of the library’s I had the honor of working at had a really well established library program that they hosted every year to get 6th graders into the library and teach them how to use the various resources. It was also a great way to transition the elementary kids to the teen services center. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work and required a lot of staff and a lot of staff time, but it was a pretty great program. The only thing I would change is that if I was doing this program now, I would probably call it something different. I like the program itself, but I’m pretty hesitant personally to promote things around the framework of war, and I say this as the proud military kid of a veteran.

So there you have it, 10 of my favorite programs that we have shared here on TLT. In one way or another, I love something about all of them. And if I was making this list again next year, I might have a different one. But today, this is my Top 10 Programs. What programs have you loved that we have shared here on TLT? We’d love to know, so please share in the comments.

Teen Program in a Box: Nostalgia and Stuffed Animals

Since this week is all about nostalgia and we look back at 10 years of TLT, I thought I would share with you a program outline for a program that taps deep into nostalgia. It begins with a stuffed elephant named Pinkerton.

Pinkerton, in the before times

Pinkerton is a pink stuffed elephant that my dad won for me at a county fair when I was around 7. It has traveled with me for 40 years from state to state and home to home and as you can see, she is well loved. So I recently decided to try and do some Doc McStuffins like rehab for my beloved friend.

Viva Ventina @viva.ventina is a popular Tik Toker who helped rehab stuffed animals. There have been some write ups about her online and she is a popular and great resource of information: https://www.dailyadvent.com/news/bcbc839611a209bf8c85d5f21cffcb66-TikToks-Viva-Valentina-Restores-Stuffed-Animals-and-Childhoods-at-the-Same-Time

There is also a British show called The Repair Shop that you can watch on Netflix that talks about restoring all kinds of family treasures, including on occasion stuffed animals. I thought my kids would hate this show but they both loved it.

So, here’s what I did and then after I walk you through the steps, I will share my program ideas.

Supplies Needed:

  • 1 well loved stuffed animal in need of repair
  • Seam ripper
  • Stuffing
  • DAWN dish washing detergent
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing needle
  • Optional: A wash basin, hair dryer, towels

To begin, we gently ripped a seam out of the back of Pinkerton and removed the stuffing. It was old, gross and disintegrating. You’ll want to have a trash can nearby to throw it directly into.

I then gently washed Pinkerton in the sink using cool water and Dawn dishwashing detergent. I figured if Dawn is good for those oil covered baby ducks, it was probably safe for Pinkerton. I didn’t use a lot. To do this in a library space, I would use a small sink basin prepared with cool water and soap. And if I had the space, I would do it outside.

I then let Pinkerton mostly air dry. At the end I did get impatient and use a blow dryer to finish, but she was mostly dry at that stage.

We then re-stuffed Pinkerton using doll stuffing we bought at the local craft store. We used Polyster stuffing. You can read more about doll stuffing here: https://www.funkyfriendsfactory.com/blog/toy-stuffing/. Because of the sentimental value of Pinkerton to me, I also printed a picture of my dad and I and placed it inside.

We then gently sewed her back up. And Tim wants you to know by we I mean he did. Tim sewed Pinkerton back up for me.

This is what she looked like after all of those steps were completed.

She was firmer and sat up better, and was slightly cleaner. But as you can see, there were still a few problem areas. Over the next few days I would gently brush her out with first a comb and later a gentle brush. This is what she looks like now.

I am so happy to have my Pinkerton back in a huggable form. This memory is so important to me.

But wait, you are thinking: What does this have to do with teen programming? Well, both of my girls and many of my tweens and teens have beloved stuffed animals. And even now, they are sharing some real love, by which I mean wear and tear. So I think this is definitely a program idea that you can do with teens, just walking them through the steps of reviving a beloved stuffie with the help of a famous TikToker.

But you can take this a few steps farther with teens:

You can set up a photo booth and teach them how to take photos of their stuffies. Or them and their favorite stuffies.

You can teach them how to make stop motion pictures using their favorite stuffed animals.

If you want to go a much cooler and more morbid route with old toys, you can do FrankenToys, where you take bits of pieces of old toys and make new ones.

Have a Toy Story marathon in the background while you talk about, share, and revive your favorite childhood toys. The teen years are really interesting, teens are not yet adults and no longer really children, so I have found that they often like to have “nostalgia” like programs that allows them, for just a moment longer, to rest in the safe space of childhood.

Cindy Crushes Programming: 10 Popular Fandoms to Base Teen Programming On, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

One of the most difficult parts of doing teen programming is knowing what to build your program idea around. One of the best places to look is to see what fandoms are currently popular with teens, more specifically with YOUR teens. Today, teen librarian Cindy Shutts is sharing some great teen programming ideas based upon currently popular fandoms. If these fandoms aren’t popular with your teens right now, find out which ones are and build your programming ideas around those. And if these fandoms are popular with your teens right now, well here are some great programming ideas for you.

  1. Animal Crossing: Animal Crossing has had a very big year in 2020. It is not as hot for teens as it was last year but it is still very popular and teens still want programs based around it. We have done a lot of Animal Crossing programming at the White Oak Library District.  Here is a link to more about Animal Crossing programming https://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2020/08/cindy-crushes-programming-animal-crossing-and-the-virtual-library-by-cindy-shutts
  1. Star Wars: This has always been a strongfandom that is always very strong as the force is strong with Luke.  We have done crafts and other activities. We are trying to keep our crafts cute and fun. We are going to have felt Porgs and felt Baba Yodas.  We already have done a The Mandalorian Escape Room created by Faith Healy


And for Star Wars Day, May the  Fourth be with you,  Linden Galloway  created a new escape room on just Star Wars https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScbtFynvgP6NRmU3vVi56JYKeLJ7AfTQDbW5PLvobh7goAPuQ/viewform

  1. Marvel Cinematic Universe: Since Marvel has been doing more series on Disney + this fan base has grown even more. We are planning to do a lot more with Marvel but my co worker Faith Healy made an amazing Wandavision felt figure template. We had those run out within the first two days of being placed out for Take and makes.
  1. Shadow and Bone and Grishaverse:  Shadow and Bone is the first trilogy of the Grishaverse series by Leigh Bardugo. This one is really taking off after the Netflix series was released on April 23rd. We are planning to do Mini Shadow and Bone charms for a May Take and Make. We did release a virtual escape room before the series released. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdN6Mb8Xy9NmDgf5BcNGN2QNhSEDXqJjqeWqv1S8aeEBbgh0w/viewform
  2. Pokemon: Pokemon has always been popular even though Pokemon leagues are shut down officially because of Covid-19 there are plenty of Pokemon related activities you can run. We did a Pokemon puffball as a Take and Make craft.

We also did a Pokemon escape room https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf82ydPBGRycYSHAr0C99KBOAEJUH7nAgFLUX9r2_ZSyxbSZg/viewform

  1. Anime: Anime is of course Japanese animation and is one of the most popular fandoms that teens will gravitate to. The popular series right now are My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer, at least at my library, Faith Healy released not only anime trivia and a Take and Make of Anime figures (You can find templates for Anime figures here: https://www.paperizedcrafts.com/search/label/Anime), Faith also created an amazing anime based escape room.


  1. Percy Jackson : This popular book series by Ric Riordian series which is going to be a Disney + series has grown a lot in popularity. We have noticed Percy Jackson taking the place in teen’s hearts since J.K. Rowling has come out with anti-trans statements. We had to run our Percy Jackson trivia twice and we released a Percy Jackson escape room.


  1. Mario: People love Mario from the Nintendo video games. We always have teens who ask for more Mario based programming. We plan to do a virtual after hours with the Mario games.
  2. Twilight: Twilight was dead and then it came back with the release of Midnight Sun and also Twilight TikTok also has reinvigorated the fandom.  I am constantly asked for Twilight based programming again. I never thought it would come back. I thought vampires would but there is a nostalgia for Twilight that has really come out of the pandemic.  We are doing trivia for adult and teen fans and Faith is working on a Twilight Escape room.
  3. Hunger Games: This is another fandom that really came back with the pandemic especially with the release of the prequel focusing on Snow, The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes. Hunger Games had not gone away as much as Twilight but people have rediscovered their love of the series and keep asking for more. Also having a new book release helped it grow in popularity. We did a Hunger Games escape room that did very well and are planning a Hunger Games Trivia.


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.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Five Thoughts on the (Very Slow) March to the End of the Pandemic, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

At my library, we are all excited about the vaccines hitting our area. I am half vaccinated. I am so excited about what is to come but I know that the pandemic is certainly not over yet. We have new strains popping up around the country and since schools have gone back in session there has been an increase in positivity rates. We also serve a population that can not get vaccinated yet, so we have to be even more careful. How is the process toward in person programming looking at your library? Here’s a look at what we’ve been thinking about as we plan programming for the future of 2021.

Outdoor Programming

We are doing outdoor programming starting in the summer. We are hoping to have our program Dog Days of Summer which is an annual pet adoption event. We will still require social distancing and masks of course. Our children’s department is looking at doing outside messy crafts. We plan to have an outdoor volunteering opportunity during the summer and have teens pick up trash in our courtyard and improve our children’s garden.

My niece Julia and her dog Brock at a past dog days.

Avoiding High Touch Programs

We will still have to avoid programs that are high touch such as crafts where supplies would be shared. I do not have enough scissors for everyone one to do crafts so I plan on avoiding in person craft and continuing doing take and make at my library. Make and Take programs have the added benefit of allowing our teens to do programming on their own time.

Keep an Eye on Infection Rates

As we have learned the positivity rate for Covid can go up at any time. The pandemic is not over just because we are over it. All libraries will have to continue to pay attention to local infections rates and be open to cancelling at a moment’s notice should the need to arise. Patron, staff and community safety should always come first.

Keep Things Online

Not everyone can come to the library. We are going to keep doing online programming forever now. We want to keep our D and D online, since it is high touch and also continue to do digital escape rooms. I plan to keep TAG online for the foreseeable future, because we have learned teens like having a chance to do their volunteer hours at all hours. Not everyone can get a ride to the library and this helps them be able to do their hours without having to get a ride from their parents or guardian. Online programming has made library programming more accessible for a large number of previously under-served patrons.

Find Programs That You Can Do

One program we are thinking about is doing Kahoot trivia in the library. It would be easy to set up in our large programming room and have the teens social distance and have them use their devices such as their Chromebooks or phones to answer the trivia while we project it on our big screen. As we look for continued ways to address the pandemic, we will all have to continue to practice and be an example of best safety practices.

What are your plans for the year? Are you doing in person programming and how are you doing it? Also how are you making it accessible for all patrons? We are trying to balance that many teens have been doing well with a lot of our online programming and we want to keep serving those teens. We have seen this a lot at our Crest Hill Branch which is hard for patrons to get to. We noticed a lot more teens from Crest Hill doing virtual programming. We find we are serving different patrons. What is your end of Covid plan?

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.

Cindy Crushes Programming: 3 RPG Games I Want to Try on Roll20, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

I recently started to run the virtual Dungeons and Dragons for my library on Roll20. I was so grateful to learn about Roll20 from friends and YouTube videos. I do know there are so many more RPG games that can be played with teens on Roll20.  Here are three cool games other libraries have played.

Learn More: Roll20 101 Crash Course

  1. Masks!: This is a superhero RPG.  Players take the role of the new crop of superheroes and must work together to fight forces of evil. This game looks perfect for teens since the characters are teens.  Normal Library in Illinois ran this on Roll20 as a one-shot.  I think using games as a one shot is super helpful because if the teens enjoy it you can always make it a series.  Here is a link to learn more about Masks! https://www.magpiegames.com/masks/
  2. Call of Cthulhu: This is one of the more popular RPG games. I have had a few of my former coworkers play this with the teens before the pandemic. This RPG is about being an everyday investigator of the unknown. You can be one of many different characters trying to dive into the mysteries that live in the Cthulieverse. Cthulhu, for those who do not know who Cthulhu is, is a monster created by Lovecraft which is often a sea creature that looks like a squid or octopus and has a cult surrounding it. It is one of the more popular monsters. Reed Memorial in Ravenna, OH has been running this RPG using Roll20 doing two hour sessions.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmTFHSrV5TE&feature=emb_title
  3. Goblin Quest: This is a fun slapstick type RPG game filled with Goblins. It seems very similar in humor and vibes to the popular card game Munchkin. There are missions like saving Dwayne Johnson aka the Rock. The goblins make many mistakes along the way and often die. If you are looking for a non-serious game this looks great. It was started with a Kickstarter.  Normal Library also ran a session of this RPG on Roll20. https://www.amazon.com/Goblin-Quest-Softcover-fatal-incompetence/dp/0996376518

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.

Cindy Crushes Programming: 10 Tips for Make and Take Crafts During a Pandemic

  1. Use Fandoms: I always try to include fandoms with my crafts. It makes teens be able to recognize that the craft is. Teens will always have their fandoms.
  2. Pick something useful: I have done a lot of light crafts and also this month we are doing handwarmers. It is certainly cold enough for them. We have been in a polar vortex for awhile
  3. Keep costs low: This really depends on your budget. I know a lot of libraries are going through budget cuts including mine. I have been using a lot of the craft supplies I already had. I also have been using sales. I was so excited when Joann’s had a felt sale a couple weeks ago. I also use coupons.
  1. Put a picture on the craft showing what it is: This is so important. Teens will not know what they are taking if you do not display what the craft is.
  2. Make an Example Craft: This is super helpful so teens can see the craft in person and are able to know that it is possible to make
  3. Make the instructions have pictures if the craft is hard: Many teens are visual learners and need to see the steps in the craft. I go through my coworkers craft and look at the instructions and will let them know if I am confused. I figure if I am confused, the teens will be confused.
  4. Make a video for the hard crafts: If you are choosing to do a hard craft, having a video will allow the teens to see your process.
  5. Do not pick very hard crafts: Give teens crafts they can complete and feel good about. Some things are too hard and you do not want to put too much pressure on them.
  6. Do not worry if the craft does not go right away: Sometimes during the pandemic you will not see many teens or their parents. This is okay. Do not stress.
  7. Do not overcraft: I am guilty of this one sometimes. I get so excited about a Take and Make that I want to shove it in a month we are pretty full in. Resist the urge if you can you do not want to bog yourself down with crafts.
  8. Don’t choose super messy crafts: I did this recently when I had a craft with cornstarch. I was covered in it all day. Plus super messy crafts will not make parents happy with their teens doing the craft at home.

Stay Safe during this weather! Here is a picture my dog Harry Winston in winter PJs.

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.