Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: 10 Tips for Using Roll20, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Our resident programming expert Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts has recently started using Roll20 for her teen programming, and she has some tips and tricks to share with us today.

Now that we are running virtual D and D with Roll20 we have learned a few things about the interface. There are a lot of great things about Roll20 and some not so great things.

Roll20 Crash Course Available Here
  1. Practice using it before you have your patrons present. You are the librarian. You want to be prepared to answer the teens’ questions and be able to troubleshoot issues. We ran a practice session, before we had a session with the patrons.
  2. Make sure your audio works on the computer you will be using. This is so important because you are leading the game and if the players can not hear you that is an issue.
  3. Try to make it more accessible to players with disabilities: One thing we are doing I GM,  but the other teen librarian writes down what happens in the chat. This creates a record and helps teens, who have issues focusing keep track of what is going on. If we have a hearing impaired patron, it also allows them to play.
  4. Run the program in a place where you can not get interrupted: This happened to me last week.  I was running the session in my office with my door closed and someone tried to get in. It made it hard to stay GMing at the time.
  5. Check the email address of your patrons, before you send them an invite through Roll20. This can cause a lot of issues. You are going to be inviting the teens to your game and you want to make sure you have the correct information.
  6. Music: You can play music through Roll20. We found that we do not use music. It can slow the software down. If anything, we use music on our phones and play it in the background.
  7. Email your teens a lot of reminders: Teens will forget a lot. I try to email them the link to the game at least twice the week we play. Be ready to help troubleshoot the software.
  8. Always check to make sure the date of the next session is correct: This software is not great when using the calendar function. You have to double check to make sure it is correct.
  9. Be prepared to restart your screen. We have found that teens have disappeared randomly, even when they are still there. I have had to restart on my end a lot. This software is not perfect.
  10. Be ready for the unexpected. We like Roll20, because it is easy to have the map and players can move their own characters, but it is far from perfect. I know some librarians use discord to have the voice function. You will have to troubleshoot problems at the time they occur. Even though it has issues, we still really enjoy it.

How do you use Roll20? Do you have any tips?

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.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Make and Take Crafts Including Dice Bags and Magical Lanterns

Dice Bags

This craft my coworker Linden Galloway came up with. It turned out so well. It was one of the fastest Take and Makes we ever had. My branch had theirs go within a day.

Supplies:

Felt cut into a 10 inches in diameter circle with marks 5/8 inch long each, and it must be 1/4 inch away from the edge. This should be put in the kit like this. The teen will make the cuts themselves.  Total of 24 cuts!

  • 20 inch ribbon use a thinner ribbon to make it thread easily.
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie

Instructions for Teens:

All you need is a sharp pair of scissors!

(Fabric scissors preferred)

1. Cut the circle out if not already cut out.

2) Hold the circle in front of you with the lined side facing away from you

3) Fold one edge over slightly so you can see half of one of the lines

4) Snip with the tip of your scissors in the middle of the line, but don’t cut to the edge of the fabric!

5) Unfold, and use the hole you created to cut to the ends of the line

6) Repeat steps 2-5 for all of the lines

7) Take the ribbon and weave it between the holes you created

8) Pull the ends of the ribbon to close your dice bag, tie in a bow, and enjoy! No-Sew Dice Bag

Magical Lanterns

These lanterns were done by my co-worker Faith Healy. We used our cameo Silhouette machine. You could use a cricut machine also. This is an extremely popular craft but does take a lot of prep time to cut all of the patterns. Faith found the patterns she used online.

Supplies:

  • Tissue Paper
  • Cardstock
  • Tea light

Librarian instructions: Find a lantern pattern online and print it out using either the cameo or Cricut machine.

Teen Instructions:

  1. Warning: Be gentle when assembling tissue paper and parts of the lantern are delicate and if you use too much force  it may tear.
  2. Fold along the folding lines. This will make it easier to assemble later.
  3. Use a glue stick (Any glue will do, but glue stick is the easiest and least messy) and glue the back of the lantern.
  4. Trim the tissue paper to the correct size and place the tissue paper firmly on glue side. You may also trim after gluing tissue.
  5. Fold the lantern this time and glue the tabs in place. Place glue on them and press firmly to help stick. There is one side tab and three tabs on the bottom.
  6. Place light in your lantern and Enjoy!

Teen Winter Care Kits

Our teens did not have finals so we gave them winter care kits instead. We included a hot cocoa bag, a candy cane, red and white pipe cleaners to make a pipe cleaner candy and printable snowflake kits. We found the snowflake online. This one does not take much work for the teens but it was a lot of counting and sorting. I did 45 kits. This one you could do with any season like spring you could use paper animal kits like origami, you could do peeps as candy. Find ways to make it fun and find out what your teens want and are interested in it. You could do a kindness rock if you have leftover rock. This is a great take and make to use leftover supplies.

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: Random Fandom, a Conversation with Linden Galloway, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Hello All, I am here with my coworker Linden Galloway. We are going to talk about a fun program Linden came up with called Random Fandom.

We did not have a lot of people the first time but the teens who came were so excited that we want to do this program again!

Cindy: Linden, how did you come up with the idea?

Linden: Everyone has a fandom soapbox to stand on, and I think teens don’t get the chance to share their thoughts often enough. I came up with questions like “What’s your favorite fandom trope?” and “Which character would you most like to cosplay?” to start conversations on fandom with the teens and encourage them to speak their minds. My fellow teen librarian came up with the title Random Fandom for my program idea, and from there I thought it would be fun to randomize the questions by rolling a 20-sided die.

Cindy: I loved how many conversations were started during this program.  I really love talking fandoms with the teens. What fandoms did you think our teens were most interested in?

Linden: Before the program, I thought the teens would be into a lot of fantasy books and shows, since I know the teens at my branch love Dungeons and Dragons. As it turns out, the teens who attended LOVE anime, which is awesome because we have tons of upcoming anime programs that we got to tell them about!

Cindy: My favorite question was what fandom shaped your morals. What were your favorite questions we asked the teens?

Linden: When I asked “What or who got you into fandom?” It was really funny because the teens who attended were siblings, and both claimed to have gotten the other started on anime! I was really excited to ask them “What’s the most underrated/overhyped fandom?” because a lot of people have strong opinions on that topic.

Cindy: What Tips would you give to librarians trying this program?

Linden: Attendance has not been high for most of our programs on Zoom, so if I did this program again I would definitely market it in a more targeted way. There are plenty of places teens who are into fandom might go in person and see a flier, so for a virtual program I would think about virtual spaces where teens might like to find information on Random Fandom.

Cindy: That is so true. It is hard to get teens to zoom. We know there is zoom burnout happening. Thank you Linden for chatting with me.

Program overview: Use a 20 sided dice and answer the fandom based that corresponds with the number on the dice. We had twenty premade questions ready to go. This is a discussion based program.

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: Talking Virtual Teen Trivia with Faith Healy, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Teen Trivia with Faith Healy

One of the most successful teen programs we are running virtually at the White Oak Library District is monthly Trivia. My co-worker Faith Healy has been running it since we started. I asked Faith to explain how we do trivia at the library.

Interview with Faith Healy

Hello Faith, Welcome back. Today we are talking about Trivia with teens. At White Oak Library District we do trivia once a month. How do you pick the theme for trivia?

It varies from month to month on how I pick. The first time we did trivia virtually I did a fandom event which combined a bunch of different questions from different popular fandoms. My secret goal of this event was to gather intel on what fandoms the teens got most correct and filed it for future use. We also collect feedback from our teens in what they would like to do such as Percy Jackson Trivia which we did recently and it was a huge success. Teens really loved it. Other times I pick themes that I am into such as Anime Trivia, which did OK. Not a huge turn out, but those who played loved it, or Hamilton Trivia, another hugely popular one that we had to do a second event as some teens were sad that couldn’t attend on our original date!  I try to stay on top of what teens like and how to make that into a fun trivia event while throwing in a few things I love. I find it easier to make up questions when you love the topic you are working on. I did struggle writing the Percy Jackson Trivia as I only read Trials of Apollo and Heroes of Olympus and not the OG series, but luckily I had an amazing co-worker who had my back and came up with great questions! Trivia topics we have coming up are Broadway, Star Wars, and Animals! We are also considering doing a Witches and Wizards trivia as well in the future.

We use Kahoot. How do you create trivia on Kahoot? What are the pros and cons of using Kahoot?

So Kahoot is great for virtual trivia! We tried a virtual trivia without Kahoot as our first one and ran into issues such as a teen’s sound not working properly, or we couldn’t hear their answers. Kahoot allows them to answer without talking. It lets you do multiple choice answers and true and false, at least for the basic. For the free version it does limit you to max of 10 players as well as the types of questions you have access to. I would love to guess the photo round where it shows a part of the image and increases as time goes on, but that is only in the paid option. So far I had made fun trivia questions with the free option so that is what my library will be using in the future. I would say play around with it and consider if the free version works for you or if you need to shell out the money. Another thing is once Kahoot is playing I don’t have control over the scoring. We had some teens click the right answer, but it did not translate to their score. We did find a work around by giving a free hint for any question they have trouble with to help up their score.

We also use zoom. How does using zoom work along with Kahoot?

Using zoom and kahoot is easy enough, you simply get it ready on your computer and share your screen on zoom. We do have a problem of the teen’s losing connection and needing to pop back in, but we always have 2-3 teen librarians present so someone can run the Kahoot and someone can let teens in when need be. We also experience some lag in which the teens don’t see the questions as fast as they appear. To get around this I have been reading the questions aloud. Other than those issues, teens have been having a fun time using kahoot and zoom. Plus we have been using the chat function to share upcoming events and give out hints.

What are some things you wish you know about running trivia in the beginning of the pandemic?

I wish I know about Kahoot sooner, it does make things easier. Plus when teens like a subject but don’t know an answer it is multiple choice upping their chances of getting it correct. I know I plan to continue to use Kahoot for in person as well as virtual. It is also ok for themes to fail it helps you know what your teens like or dislike. Also that while theme baskets might be fun to make, a gift card appeals more to teens, plus is more cost effective.

What types of trivia work best?

Definitely popular themes work best, Percy Jackson and Hamilton were such popular trivia. We definitely plan to do an all new Percy Jackson in the future given its popularity and Hamilton is why we are trying out a broadway edition which is fun! I also tend to avoid the boring trivia questions like what year did this come out in favor of fun trivia rounds. For example, Percy Jackson, we did Claim the Camper, They had to figure out who was the camper’s godly parent, Guess the God, they are given a vague characteristic of god and had to guess who it describes, Where’s that from? Where we named a plot point and they had to quess if it was from the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus, Trials of Apollo, or the Movie. (Yes it is bad, but some teens might like it). Name that Tune, listen to 20 seconds of Percy Jackson Musical Song and quess the name, turns out not a lot of kids have listen to the musical), and Finish the Prophecy which is self explanatory. Teens have more fun with these rounds and really enjoyed them.

What input are the teens giving about trivia?

They are vocal about what theme’s they want us to try out. The Percy Jackson Trivia attendants even asked to be in an email list for when we do another one. Getting feedback from teens is the best. Also when you make an answer wrong they will call you out on it.

Thank you and Stay safe. Any final tips or tricks?

Don’t be afraid to try new things or themes! Also Kahoot allows sharing of trivia games. After we play a round of trivia, I tend to make mine public for everyone to see. They are a bunch of games already created for you to try, I just really like to make my own. I also add in bonus questions for fun like what is my personal favorite Hamilton songs and for the options I make them all correct. It helps the teens get more points and they get to know you!

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: 5 More Virtual Programs You Can Do Right Now

Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts is here today with another roundup of virtual programming ideas for libraries. You can find all of her posts about virtual programming by following this tag.

Living History Project

Oak Park Library in IL  is working on a Living History project where they are learning critical research skills and  learning about social movements in the United States. Teens also get public speaking skills. This is a great  program for teens who are interested in learning more about the work around them and their place in it.

Virtual Yoga and Stress Relief

A lot of libraries are doing video yoga programs or stress relief exercise. This is one program where you have to hire people who know what they are doing. You can use an outside presenter. You can find an example here or by doing a quick Google search of virtual yoga for teens.

Virtual Chess

Belvedere Tiburon Library in Tiburon, CA is using chess.com to run their chess club. Chess.com allows you to create tournaments. This program may be particularly popular given the recent popularity of The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix.

Career Programs

This is one program where you can get people from your community to help. You can interview them and let teens ask questions about their careers. The Carrol Center for the Blind did this and they had speakers from all different fields of music and had them talk about their careers. They got musicians who were visually impaired which made it even more valuable. The city of Austin hosted a Virtual Career Expo for teens and young adults which is also a great resource.

Fandom Club

A zoom meeting where you can have the teens meet to talk about their favorite fandom. They can talk about their favorite characters or relationships aka ships. You can also have them practice writing fan fiction. This is just a low stress program for teens. You can also do virtual fandom trivia nights, the Montgomery County Public Libraries are doing this if you would like to learn more.

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: How to Make a Digital Escape Room, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

At my library we have found one of the easiest ways to attract people to  programs is by creating a virtual escape room. They can be used any time of day and are fun to make. I like doing them with different fandoms. I have created two that are published so far one about Animal Crossing and one about Camp Half-Blood (Percy Jackson). My co-worker Faith Healy created two as well. She created an original haunted house one that has been used almost 200 times. She also just released a Mandorlian one in honor of the new season.

Start the Animal Crossing Escape Room

Start the Camp Half Blood Escape Room

Start the Haunted House Escape Room

Start the Mandalorian Escape Room

  1. Pick your theme and Do Research: Right now I am editing my Hunger Games escape room that is going to be released at the library next week. I rewatched the movies to prepare to write it. I also did research while writing it. I have different terrains. So I loved information about the terrains that could be useful. I learned about swamp gas and used it as a deadly way to kill the players.
  2. Write the Story: I used a Google document to write it out. I wrote the escape room essentially as a choose your own adventure story. Having the Google document makes it easier to break everything into sections which makes it easier to transfer the information onto a Google form on which the escape room is formatted and released on. Do not make too many choices in your questions. You might think  it will be fun to have lots of choices but really it makes everything more confusing. Faith and I found out you want to try to keep it under eighty sections in the end because it takes a long time to load if it is overloaded. My Animal Crossing one was 18 pages and now my Hunger Games one is 31. It was easier for the Animal Crossing one to load everything. I recommend you use your strengths writing if you are someone who likes outlines then use and outline. I am someone who finds the paths along the way when writing. I do not know what is going to happen when i write which is a surprise to me. I think escape rooms work well if you have experience writing fan-fiction.
  3. Edit the Story: You need to edit the story. I recommend waiting a couple days before editing so your eyes are fresh. Then have your co-workers help edit. I have one of the children’s librarians, Terri Purcell help me edit everything. She is always able to help me make projects better. I also have the other teen librarians help me.  I know not everyone has other teen librarians but I think children’s librarians are super awesome to help. Also the circulation staff can be a great help.
  4. Create the Google Form: I copy and paste everything in a Google form. I make sure all the questions are multiple choice and also go on  to the section based on the answer. Here is a very useful video on how to use the google form. Make sure that all the endings you have a submit button that way you can keep track of your numbers for statistics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLzbPGF4TzY
  5. Having Someone Test it: You will need your staff to help test the escape room. You have to make sure all the answers to the questions are connected to the right answers. This makes the game playable. I also check to see if after they have used it it submit and logs their choices properly.
  6. Release: We have release dates. We put them on all of our social media pages and I shared them to facebook groups and also the schools. 

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: Teen Volunteering During a Pandemic, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

At the White Oak Library District, we have been trying to provide virtual volunteer opportunities for all teens during the pandemic. Faith Healy has been in charge of our program since we switched to all virtual hours.  I interviewed  Faith about volunteering for teens at the White Oak Library District. If you have any questions please email her at fhealy@whiteoaklib.org

When during the pandemic did the library start offering virtual volunteer hours?

 We came up with the virtual volunteering while in quarantine and wanted to offer the volunteer opportunities to our teens as soon as we reopened as a way to give teens something to do when they couldn’t go anywhere.

What types of volunteer hours are available  at White Oak Library District?

As of right now, we are only offering virtual volunteering. With the pandemic and social distancing, there is no safe way to have volunteers in person. But we have several virtual volunteering options and have recently added more. We created a google form that teens use to let us know they completed the volunteering and it helps us keep track of who volunteers and what hours they have.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScImKZReQGblsH5aE8ZhDoTEBlvXrHHEXl9EnvLKGzGHGi0Bw/viewform

Teen Blog Post: Teens get to write about what matters to them. This is my personal favorite and we have had several teens write about what happened during the pandemic and it is so nice to give them a platform for their voices to be heard. We do double check before adding them to the library’s blog, but all the submitted blog posts have been amazing! It is a great way to hear from your teens when you can’t see them in person

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScDjU_RH8KhG-nXGKMpFTfqz0piI2P5h2Fuuh9KroJnJ0VyMQ/viewform

Book Review: We have teens write a review of a book and tell us why they love it. We have gotten some great book reviews and some that I have added to my need to read list.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBvL4UQYPIXTyBrhA1r5wqxrLGD69ET2vEGylaQb9K0WWEwQ/viewform

Video Post: For this one we did have to create a permission slip for parents to sign since we did want to use any videos teens created for social media. We offer teens to create a short video as long it is book or library related. That was the only condition. We did get some interest, but no videos, at least not yet.

Those are the three we started with and we recently added four more. Alot of them were ideas of my wonderful co-worker.

Video Reviews: With the pandemic the library has been posting more YouTube videos, so we wanted teen feedback and figured offering volunteer hours for feedback would work. All they need to do is watch any White Oak Library District YouTube video and write a mini review that is at least three sentences long.

Artwork Submission: This was an idea I had when looking at other library’s virtual volunteering. I believe it was Naperville, asking teens to create sidewalk art and take a photo. I thought why not just have them create any art and we can share it on our social media. I did limit it to library, book, or fandom related, but I figure teens can have fun with it and I look forward to seeing their submissions! I did ask if they would like to be credited or anonymous if we post their art as some teens might be shy about sharing artwork under their name.

Librarian Pen Pal: All the teens have to do is email a teen librarian. We get to hear from them and get feedback, and they get volunteer hours. A Win-Win for everyone. Plus during the pandemic we rarely see teens, this is a great way to create that personal connection.

TAG Survey: So at the beginning of reopening, my library did try to do a virtual tag that, got no one. So now to correct that we greeted a TAG survey via a google form and linked it with our virtual volunteering form. We offer volunteer hours in exchange for feedback we normally get from our TAG groups that we can’t have now as virtual doesn’t work and in person is not possible. TAG Survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScQVRIiz0UCPRi1tgkHvj7XrLV8VphzfQJWVhi-6LmkZHE3KA/viewform

We are exploring another option that a lot of libraries in the area seem to be doing. #TheWeWereHere project found at: https://thewewerehereproject.org/index.html. They have been partnering with libraries to collect teen voices about living through 2020 as it seems that everything happens in 2020. They just want the library to offer volunteer hours in exchange for teens sharing their story on their website and naming the library as a partner. I recently reached out to them and am waiting to hear back. It seems like a good option to give our teens a wider platform to have their voices heard and recorded for future generations

What options have been the most popular?

 Our most popular option for right now is definitely the Book Reviews. We have received a lot of those that we posted on our White Oak Blogs. I love reading their posts about what books they love and why!

Our second most popular is definitely the Teen Blog Posts. The most popular topic has been life during the pandemic. I am glad to give teens an option to voice their opinions especially in a time when they feel they might not have a lot of options to do that.

How do you keep volunteering going during the pandemic?

Virtual volunteering does offer us an easy option to offer patrons a link to go to. We have gotten a few emails from parents about volunteering and it is simple just to send them a link. We also noticed an increase in requests via email, phone, and even in person for volunteering which got us to shake up what we were offering and add new ideas and options. We also try reaching out to schools as some do require volunteer requirements and that helps.

How do you keep track of volunteering

One great thing about google forms is it keeps track for you. You can view each submission as an individual which helps you break down what a single teen has done. You can also get an overall summary which helps you notice what is the most popular option and what is not. When teens come into to get a sign off on hours, I simply check the google form to see what they earned and can sign off on.

What is your favorite part of running the volunteer program?

I would say the teens are my favorite part. Volunteering helps me connect with teens that might not come in for a book or a program. Plus I love how many teens just want to give back in this world. Teens are the best!

What advice would you give other librarians who are running virtual volunteering?

I would say try new things! When I created the blog post option, I hoped to have at least one or two, but we got more than that blowing my expectations out of the water. If you are not sure it would work give it a try!

Also feel free to use volunteering to benefit your library’s needs as well. A majority of our new volunteer options are created just to get feedback. We have so few teens coming in and a lot of teens that need volunteer hours that we decided to combine the two. We don’t know if it will work, but we are willing to give it a try.

Last thing I would say is check out what other libraries in your area are doing! We are all part of a larger community and feel free to take any ideas you want from me. I am happy to share. Feel free to contact me with any volunteering ideas! I am always on the lookout to increase our options!.

Thank you Faith for sharing with us about teen volunteering. If anyone has examples of how you are doing teen volunteer programs during the Pandemic please let us know.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

cindy

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: 5 Tips On How To Get Teens To Your Virtual Program, by Cindy Shutts

It is hard to get teens to come to virtual programs. I have been trying to find a way to make sure our patrons can find information about our program. How are you getting the word out about your programs?

Share your program on the local resident groups and mom groups on facebook.

Teens are unlikely to see the advertisement, but their parents or guardians  will. This allows them to sign up their teens. Make sure to include the sign up link when you make a post. All of our programs with Zoom registration is required just to make sure we can email the link to the patron ahead of time. We are trying to avoid Zoom bombing.

Make a Facebook Event

This is very useful because it reminds the patron about the programs in the patron mark they are interested in going to get a reminder before the program. Also include the registration link in the event because this is how you can get the Zoom link to them.

Sample of Craft in Library

If you are doing a craft remember to have a sample craft out so parents and teens can see. We do this with Take and Makes. If we have registration for a craft, we make sure to send them a link of our video so they can view it. Here is one of our craft videos from when my wonderful coworker Ariel Nelson and i did a foot scrub kit

Contact Teachers and School Media Specialists

The teachers we work with are amazing and often our biggest champions. They are the ones working so hard to get our teen through the pandemic. I have even more respect for them now then I did before. If I have a really great program I want the teens to know I will email the teachers and School Media Specialists ahead of time. I do not use this resource every time because I do not want to overwhelm them. I also joined a community resource group for the schools on Facebook. This is a way I can contact teachers and parents at the same time without having a big long email.

Inside Building Signage or Curbside Advertising

This is what we would do pre pandemic. We would post our teen programs with signs where teens or parents and guardians could see them and be interested. Now we have curbside pickup, we can add advertisements in their books or verbally tell them about the program.  We do not have many teens in the building which is how I used to advertise. Word of mouth was my number one way to get teens to come to programs. I used to have a huge after school crowd and now I am lucky if I see 4 teens in one day. I am glad the teens are being safe of course, but I do miss seeing them and hearing about their day. That is why I really like doing zoom programs because I can talk to them.

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.