#5. You Have to Plan Teen Programs Six Months In Advance and Wonder How You Can Use the “Teen Participation” Model of Program Planning.
It can be hard to get input from teens regardless if the program is next week or next year. And even if they have participated in the planning, they still might not show up! I think it is important to ask teens what they want, and take their input seriously, but don’t count on them showing up for your program even when it’s something they specifically asked for.
At my library, we have big events like Harry Potter’s Birthday and Comic Con where planning begins very early. Even so, we’re are still working on it up until that day. So if a teen asks for something specifically or recommends a cool idea, I would try my best to accommodate. It’s important to plan for flexibility, this way you can always make adjustments on the fly.
I agree with Velasquez when she says, “Consistency in programming is key.” Yes, teens will “get into a pattern and know that if they show up at the library on that day and time there will be something going on for them” but it’s also the key to building up a teen audience. For teen programs, I think sometimes you have to go well past the point where you may have considered it a failure. My library offers a gaming program every week at the same time. Some weeks only 2 teens show up, sometimes none. Then, when you are least expecting it there are 15.
#6. All Teen Programming Is Centralized. You and the Teens at Your Branch Don’t Get a Choice of What Programs Are Available for Teens.
The simplicity of centralized programming may be appealing and cost saving too. But it is antithetical to how teens work best. What works at one library may not work at another. Teens respond best when their opinions are honored and respected. Again, I think flexibility is most important. You can always adapt a “program in a box” to meet the needs of your audience. Its all about the approach.