Library Lock-Ins for Teens


I first became a Teen Librarian in 2008. At that time, the three BIG programming options in my area were: Gaming Clubs, Anime Clubs, and Lock-Ins. While I was excited to try all the things, I wanted to host a lock-in more than anything else. I have held many MANY Lock-Ins over the years. I’ve seen one boy devour an entire pizza in under 5 minutes. I’ve witnessed sixth graders (on multiple occasions) run around screaming, “I’M DRUNK! I’M DRUNK ON SODA!” I’ve broken up a fight, taught a boy how to sew a bag for his crush, and thrown bread in a Hunger Games style relay race. There’s not much I won’t try and I’m always trying to adapt and stay open to new ideas.

This past summer, I took a look at my programming and stats from the previous year. I had quite a few programs that, despite being awesome (duh!), had horrible attendance. {Are you noticing poor attendance at your programs? Try a self directed program!} I decided to put some of my regular monthly programs on the back burner and focus on a few new ideas. One of those ideas happened to be a monthly teen Lock-In called After Hours. In the past, I have held two Lock-Ins twice a year, so to do one a month was going to be a bit of big deal. Not only did I have to come with new ideas each month, I had to convince another librarian to work the program with me, as well as get our security officer permission to be there in the building with us.  Luckily I work with awesome people, so I always get the help I need. 🙂

My current group of teens are pretty young. Teen programs are for 6-12 graders, and right now, I am bringing in the sixth graders. They’re also ridiculously hyper and I learned the hard way that I have to keep these kids moving and entertained! So with all that being said, here’s what I do at After Hours….

1I always have an itinerary! I am pretty flexible with it, but I need to have a plan of action written out! And I always over plan! (We didn’t end up playing Giants, Wizards, Elves and we ran out of time for our last relay race.)

I like to start my events with an icebreaker or two. It gives the group a chance to get to know each other and maybe (hopefully) find some common ground. I like to mix up my icebreakers each month and this time we whipped out 1) the M&Ms game:

2and 2) the Talk-n-Toss ball!

13I got the idea for the ball from here and I adapted her questions to better fit my group! Everyone loved this. We probably threw the ball around for 5 minutes and we could have kept on playing.

I gave my group thirty minutes to eat. I had pizza, chips, cookies, candy, soda, and a hot chocolate bar. During this time, the teens can also play the Wii and hang out. If I notice the group getting antsy, I jump into our first set of games sooner than planned.

I decided to do some Minute to Win It games with my group this time and it was so. much. fun. I took a lot of my ideas from this blog post because they were awesome! I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. I had the group divide themselves into teams of two and then come up a team name. They were awarded points for the following challenges:


Reassemble the front of a snack box that was cut into 12 pieces. 4Using just your feet, move paper roll tubes into a bucket.5Throw cotton balls into your teammate’s bucket.6Get a cookie from your forehead into your mouth without touching the cookie with your hands.7Dip your nose into vaseline and then dip your nose into a pile of cotton balls. Run to your bucket and shake the cotton ball off your face and into the bucket.

I like to give the group a crafting option. I got lucky and grabbed a great Black Friday deal on t-shirts at AC Moore so I decided we would paint shirts:



The shirts ended up being a pretty great success, so I skipped over the Giants, Wizards, Elves game to let the group keep painting and went right into the Truth or Dare Pop when they were done.

I think my boss and I found about 30 library friendly Dares, typed them up, cut them out, and then had a group of volunteers stuff the pieces of paper into the balloons and blow them up for us. (Yay for teen volunteers!) To play, have your group sit in a circle, release the balloons, and then, one at a time, go around the circle popping the balloons and doing what the slip of paper dares you to do.


It was pretty awesome!10And mildly epic. 11Hahahaha! Even I got to play. I had to give a piggy back ride to someone in the room. I picked the tiniest teen in attendance. 🙂

So yeah. That’s about it. We finish up the games around 8:30, and then let the teens chill for about 15 minutes until the parents start arriving to get them. We always have fun and I leave absolutely exhausted. I like to think I’m doing something right, because the same group keeps coming back for more.   I’m taking December off from After Hours because of the holidays, but I’ll be back at it come January.

I hope this might help some of you out with your Lock-In programs and I would LOVE to hear what works for you at your libraries!

Thanks for stopping by…