Outstanding One-Off Events for Teens

29 Jul

Special library events for young people are action-packed, helping raise your library’s profile, attract new young people to your service, and delight those teens who are already regular patrons. Here are some ideas for one-off events to try in your library:

Author Readings

Authors may either read at your library or at a local school with which the library has partnered. Authors who also offer workshops to go along with their presentations may be quite popular, as the added activity will draw teens unfamiliar with the author’s oeuvre.

While many authors charge, some consider readings and workshops part of their publicity campaign (hence, a free service), while others are willing to wave their fee so long as you book a certain number of young people in advance (often 50+ or 100+, depending on the author).


Most areas of the UK lack manga/anime and comics/graphic novel conventions. You can make a big difference in your community (and also, if applicable, some money for your library) by creating your own small conventions, events, or workshops. Both the comics workshop and Manga Day held at Southend Library were so successful as to be oversubscribed (staff had to turn away quite a few people on both occasions). TokyoPop periodically run free Recons, anime/manga events at which they supply staffing, prizes, food, episodes of anime, art supplies, and a Wii stocked with new games. For more ideas and information about libraries where similar conventions and activities have happened, see Teen Librarian Monthly (December 2008). (Alternately, how about an Anime Prom?)

Book or Film Launch Parties

Book or film launch parties can be relatively inexpensive. Plenty of US and UK libraries have held Twilight proms in celebration of impending Twilight films. Recent ideas for events based around the launch of the final novel in the Hunger Games trilogy recently appeared in the links roundup. The two concluding Harry Potter films are yet to come(click here for a plethora of Harry Potter party ideas via The Leaky Cauldron), and new superhero films and movies based on YA novels are released every few months.

Overnight Events

All-night events–which are popular with teens–regularly take place in many US libraries. US libraries often call them “lock-ins” (because the library is locked after hours). For just one example of a successful “lock in” event, check out Bacon Public Library’s photos from their 10th(!) Lock-In.

Teens have also suggested all-night film marathons (if you’re low on cash you can show some old-and-brilliant copyright-free films accessible via archive.org!).

Sessions often involve games, gaming, snacks, storytelling, and more. Teens will need to return signed permission slips ahead of time.

Calendar Events

Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? Why not run a month’s worth of activities based around the goal of writing a novel (defined as being 50,000+ words) in a single month?

Other calendar events could include anything from football or other sport-related activities (based on the season), or holiday-related events such as Halloween. I’ve read some inspiring stories of innovative Halloween events on the YA-YAAC mailing list, including Thriller dance lessions (there are tons of Thriller tutorials available online), costume-making and costume parades, film showings, creepy crafts, ghoulish makeup application lessons, and more!


There are lots of clever and/or weird ideas out there such as teen poetry slams, the Create a Comic Project, and video game tournaments (or Dance Dance Revolution tournaments, or Guitar Hero tournaments… you get the idea). I’ve even come across detailed instructions for an event called Chocofest (an evening of activities based around chocolate, including facts, quizzes, and of course chocolate tasting sessions).

Have any special event ideas you’d like to add to this list? Email them to yalibraryuk@gmail.com or tweet them @yalibraryuk! As always, you will be fully credited for your ideas!


3 Responses to “Outstanding One-Off Events for Teens”


  1. Wonderful Workshops for Teens « YA Library UK - August 3, 2010

    […] Workshops may pique teens interest in a new subject or build on the momentum of groups/clubs or a special one-off event. Teens are often drawn to workshops because workshops teach desirable new skills in a focused but […]

  2. Helping Teens Lead and Fund Library Projects « YA Library UK - February 13, 2012

    […] teens in my library,” start reaching out to those already using your service. Introduce yourself, host an event, or reach out to teens in the community. For those who are feelings daunted based on time […]

  3. On a Shoestring: Reaching Teens in a Few Hours Every Week (or) How to Use Time Effectively When You Don’t Have Any « YA Library UK - April 2, 2012

    […] better to run, say, one really fun event every two months than to run an poorly planned event every week. It’s also a good way to gauge […]

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