In 2009 I helped my library win a grant to build an incredible teen space called The Corner. In the beginning, the space was amazing. We held a few programs and the teens respected their area. However, due to staffing, the popularity of the space, and an overall disinterest in work due to my pregnancy and new baby, The Corner sort of became overrun with a not so great crowd. With the enthusiasm of a new boss and a lot more sleep in my life, I slowly started to take the teen space back. Were our teens really that bad? Welllllllll… it’s not like this library is in a bad area, but the kids were used to being in a walled in, adult free space, and (OMG!) they got a little cra cra. This is when I introduced them to… The Self Directed Program!
What is a self directed program, you ask? It’s really just a fancy name for a passive program, where the librarian sets everything up and your audience comes in to do all the work. Over the last year I have held several self directed programs (posts with pics will be coming soon!), but our most recent one, YA March Madness, has been hands down the most popular.
We started out on March 1 with 32 popular Young Adult fiction books. (I’m super lucky that my PR lady is awesome and she made me these incredible posters for my bracket.) Next to the bracket, I put out my first ballot.
Over the next five weeks, I had 107 ballots given to me. The teens were allowed to vote once a week and I gave them a piece of candy in exchange for the ballot. I also gave them the opportunity to win a gift card to Spoon Me (our local FroYo place).
Each week I tallied up the winners, made a bigger book cover for the new bracket, and created a revised ballot.
There were some big upsets, and eventually we went from 32 books…
…down to 2…
…and finally we had a winner!
So, why do I love me some self directed programs? 1) It is a physical reminder that you are in a library, complete with books and teen programs. 2) It gives me an excuse to talk to teens about our programs. 3) It opens up dialogue (such as, “What do you mean you haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars, Miss Christen?!???”) with my teenagers. 4) Teens who can’t make it out for specific programs still get to participate in library programming. 5) I love to give out candy and gift cards!
I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe it will help inspire you to try self directed programs in your library (or classroom or maybe even at your business?!). Be on the lookout for more posts about this topic coming soon…