Tag Archives: library events

The Hunger Games Film: Activities and Read-Alikes (A Special Edition of Pop Culture Round-Up)

30 Jan

Hunger Games cover (UK edition)The Hunger Games will be out on the 23rd of March. Already a wildly successful YA trilogy in the US (and popular in the UK, too), the film is bound to create fresh interest in the books. Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, a poor sector of a dystopian United States called Pan Am. When Katniss’s younger sister is selected as a “tribute” in the yearly state-sponsered teen-on-teen battle royale – the eponymous Hunger Games – Katniss volunteers to take her place, knowing full well that she will probably die in the process.

Film trailer:

Due to the popularity of the books, many American libraries are already hosting Hunger Games events. I would recommend preparing with extra stock – buy plenty of copies of all three books in the and considering events, but holding off until after the film is released, as I suspect many British teens will become fans of the trilogy after they watch the film.

In the meantime, you can read the books yourself and look at the District One Capitol Couture website – a very clever introduction to some of Pan Am’s obsessions.


You will probably get requests for more books like The Hunger Games. YALSA put together a list of classic and contemporary dystopian books for teens: The Future Sucks – A Visitor’s Guide to Dystopia. (One addendum to that list: the classic dystopian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.) They have also compiled a short list of post-apocalyptic teen books at Dystopian vs. Post-apocalyptic Teen Books. There is an older list of 50+ dystopian YA books at Bart’s Bookshelf, and a shorter but very recent one compiled by on Wired. Alternately, type “dystopian YA list” into a search engine of your choice in order to yield extensive lists.

Displays and Activities

Tons of ideas for activities and displays. Here are my two favourite lists:
Feed Their Hunger for the Hunger Games from Teen Librarian’s Toolbox and and older (but still very useful) post from Youth Services Corner Hunger Games Party Ideas.

Do you have anything planned to respond to interest in The Hunger Games and dystopian YA?


Engaging Older Teens and Young Adults: A Success Story

8 Nov

Penny Johnson, Teen Specialist at Baraboo Public Library in Wisconsin, recently posted this inspiring message on the ya-yaac mailing list about her first ever meeting with a Teen and Young Adult Advisory Board of young people ages 17-25. I’m re-posting it here, with Penny’s permission. Thanks, Penny!

I wanted to share with all of you the results of my first advisory board meeting for 17-25 year olds. There were seven in attendance, and they were very excited about the prospect of having library events specifically for their age group.

I can barely find time to organize, publicize, and run regular teen programs. I had no idea how I was going to squeeze programs for older teens/twenty somethings into my schedule. But I feel we came up with a few solutions.

–We are now beginning my regular TAB [Teen Advisory Board] meeting a half hour earlier (6-7 PM), which gives us time to have TAB Plus (or TAB Sr. or YAAB, or whatever we are going to call it) on the same evening (7-8 PM)

–The older teens have organized a manga/anime group which meets twice a month, and a general book discussion group which meets once a month. They are doing all of the publicity and program prep, so it doesn’t take any of my time.

–They found a solution for something that has plagued me for years now. Our monthly teen game night is extremely popular. We regularly have 30-35 teens in attendance, and I am the only adult in the room. Yeah, it’s a big challenge for me. The older teens have become increasingly annoyed with the middle schoolers [ages 10-14], but because my hands are full I can do little to change the situation. So here is the new plan. The older teens and twenty somethings will help me run the game night. They will monitor each console, bake and serve the pizzas, keep the garbage under control, etc. In exchange, we will start the event a half hour earlier, end it an hour earlier, then give my OTYA assistants an hour of game time without the younger teens around.

I am discovering I can indeed find time to provide programming for older teens and twenty somethings. And they are so appreciative!

Practical Programming: Helping Young People with Study and Employment

23 Aug

Here in the East of England a guide called “What Next? A Guide for 17-18 Year Olds” is circulating amongst youth organisations and libraries. The guide covers topics such as going into work, job training programs, how to gain useful experience during a gap year, and options for teens who want to continue studying but have decided to delay their entry into higher education.

Practical ProgrammingAlthough library programs for youth often focus on leisure and fun, scores of teens and young adults need practical advice about jobs, education, extracurricular opportunities, and finances.

My library sees quite a few older teens and young adults every week. They come to work on their CVs, look at our career guides, and gain employer contact details. Young people working on their exams (both GCSEs and A-Levels) have repeatedly requested that we set aside certain materials and space for studying.

The greatest number of requests is always for up-to-date exam study guides. The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library maintain a large section of reference only study and career guides. I’m sure those books are in use continually during the Winter and Spring.

At my very own library (Southend Central) we’ve received repeated requests for designated study areas for young people. Perennial library patrons do not always welcome the springtime influx of study groups, and many regular library users become hostile toward young people (this usually only manifests itself into glaring and throat-clearing, but the message reaches teens load and clear). Designing an elected study area for young people is on my long-term agenda (I promise to update with further details if I get a study area plan into action!).

The library is filled with young people searching for work and researching qualifications. Southend Library’s teen advisory group (Southend Library Youth Forum) has recommended partnering with Connexions to provide help for young people looking for work (this could include anything from assistance creating CVs to careers advice).

After school homework clubs and study groups can prove popular, but be prepared for a high volume of students in need of help. It may be necessary to set parameters ahead of time about the content of the group and the type of help provided by staff. Alternately you may simply state that staff will not be present and allow the group to self-monitor.

“What Next?” points out that many young people who want to continue into higher education may not be ready or able to enter university. Your library may consider setting aside a small collection of books and up-to-date pamphlets with relevant alternatives to university, such as short courses, Open University offerings, recent publications about applying (and re-applying) to courses (“What Next?” recommends the UCAS website). You may also add information about local and national volunteer opportunities and programs abroad. (Click here to view the resources linked to in the “What Next?” brochure).

It’s not necessary to keep a massive collection of information, so long as what you have is direct and relevant. You may find a very positive local teen response to programs and groups local need for information about study, work, and other practical concerns.

Wonderful Workshops for Teens

3 Aug

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 fun environment.

Workshops image

Although you may base a workshop around just about anything teachable skill, I’ve provided a handful of ideas to get you started, many of which overlap with previous suggestions for teen groups and events (so take a look at previous posts about clubs/groups and special events!). If you have any suggestions, contact me yalibraryuk@gmail.com (or tweet @yalibraryuk) and I’ll post your idea (and credit you for it, of course).

Art Workshops

Art workshops may focus on comics, manga, or fine art drawing. On-staff artists or art students from your local university may be eager to teach art courses. Professional artists are also happy to lead workshops for a fee. The best way to contact manga or comics artists is through publishers such as Self Made Hero (manga) or 2000 AD (comics). Publishers outside of the United Kingdom (such as Viz, Dark Horse, Top Shelf, and many others) usually publish at least a few UK-based artists/writers, so they are also worth contacting. Joe, the fellow who publishes Forbidden Planet’s blog, is friendly and often willing to share his wealth of information with anyone interested in hosting comics or manga events. (An aside: large publishers such as DC or Marvel may take quite a long time to respond to requests due to a high volume of queries, so if you’re interested in booking an artist through them it’s important to contact them well in advance of the workshop.)

Art workshops have been tested at Headspace Efford, where teens created a fantastic group-produced manga. Artist Nana Li gave two very popular drawing workshops at Southend Library, which one of the attendees took video of and blogged about (with permission, of course). London Underground Comics also gave a workshop about self-publishing comics at Southend Library. Again, the event was very popular.

Writing Workshops

Many teens–including teens for whom reading is anathema!–write. Some of them simply want to develop their skill or share their work with peers, while others dream of being published writers.

Writing is perhaps the most versatile of all workshops because it can be led either by a visiting author, a vetted volunteer, or an experienced member of staff. Moreover, the type of writing can vary widely: from poetry to autobiography, from short stories to novels. If a member of staff or volunteer is running a workshop, they may find suggestions in previous posts about library events.

If you would like an author to lead a workshop at your library, I recommend contacting publishers directly (they usually have a list of authors interested in engaging with library events). Alternately you may get in touch with The Reading Agency, which has many author contacts.

Crafts, Fashion, Costume and Cosplay Workshops

Crafts workshops may be based on almost any craft, from origami folding to zine publishing to jewellery-making. I will be posting a long list of craft websites later this week, but for now please take a look at Teen Librarian’s suggestions, See YA Around’s ideas, and craftzine.com’s archive of DIY craft instructions.

Fashion events encourage new teens to attend library events and may also serve as a crafty (no pun intended) method of encouraging young people to examine your collection of art and fashion books in greater detail. For more ideas, see YALSA’s blog post on fashion workshops and events for teens.

Costume-making or Cosplay workshops may also be led by staff or professionals, depending on staff knowledge, interest, and time. (Cosplay is dressing up and role-playing based on characters and from manga and anime.) Costumes may be tailored to time of year (for example, you could run a Halloween costume workshop). The best contact for Cosplay workshops are the professionals who run the Cosplay Ball. TokyoPop may also help you find someone interested in running a Cosplay workshop.

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!

Great Library Programmes for Teens: Groups and Clubs

26 Jul

This is the first in a series of five posts about programme and event ideas for teens in public libraries. Check back every day this week for more!

Providing events for teens is one of the best ways of making contact with young people in your community and improving the library’s profile. It’s also a useful method of getting more new teens into your library.

The best way to recruit lots of teens to your service quickly is to run a few high-profile one-off events and simultaneously recruit for recurring groups. However, many libraries may find it easier to begin with a regular programme of recurring groups, which are less demanding on staff and finances. Here are some ideas to get you started or help you expand your menu of teen groups.

One of the wonderful things about teen groups is that they may be teen led (this really reduces necessary investment of staff hours!). Take a look at this YALSA article about teen-led groups (“your in-house specialists”) for additional suggestions. The costs for most of these groups is low, usually limited to snacks and drinks. (Providing nibbles is optional, but it does provide additional motivation to attend.) Typically only one staff member is required to lead the group; if the group is teen-led, you won’t need to provide any staff at all! Drawing and writing groups may require paper, pencils, pencils, and/or library computers to work on. Craft groups generally require craft materials (but these can be very inexpensive or even free if you choose crafts focused on recycled/upcycled materials!). Film showings and film groups present a special obstacle that I’ll cover below.

All groups will need some group-created parameters that you can help them establish from the very first meeting. Allow the group to help decide on ground rules (so long as they’re fair).

Reading Groups

The group may want to read and discuss one book together, in which case you’ll either need to find a reading guide online (these are easily located by searching for the title and author of the book, plus “reading guide”) or invent one yourself. Other options include running quizzes and games based on the book read (for example, last week I linked to some Hunger Games activities). If the group wants to read different books (especially if they have vastly disparate tastes), have them participate in a book reviewing scheme or start a book review blog!

Writing Groups

It would be useful to bring some writing prompts and exercises, which can easily be in creative writing books or on the Internet (Ink Provoking has an especially large selection of good writing prompts). Some may be keen to share and critique work, while others resist showing anyone their work. Establish ground rules including concepts of useful versus unhelpful critique. Again, it’s a good idea to talk this through, so that the group has the opportunity to create their own parameters and feels as though the rules are fair and accurate (instead of being externally imposed). Usually good critique involves being specific, stating strengths of the pieces before discussing its weaknesses, and focusing on the piece of being critiqued (as opposed to critiquing the writer themselves).

Art Groups

Art groups are similar in content to writing groups: prompts are useful (these can be objects or scenes to draw, characters or settings, et cetera) and critiques may feature (and need firmly established parameters to avoid both hurt feelings and soggy dialogue). If you library has a gallery–or any display space at all–you schedule a future exhibition for the group to make work toward. You can also run contests, or (if the group is interested), have them design cool library materials.

Craft Groups

Craft groups can be focused on one type of craft (such as knitting), or many varieties of crafts. Though I’ve never tried a craft activity at my library, they are apparently very popular with teens in the US. For a few good craft ideas, take a look at the Arystocrafts page, as well as some free projects from The Hipster Librarian’s Guide to Teen Craft Projects. There are loads of DIY and crafts sites out there (for example Generation T , which features simple sewing projects that reuse old t-shirts). You can also join the free YA-YAAC mailing list (scroll to the bottom of the page for joining information). It’s regularly updated and often features great free craft projects that have already worked successfully at other libraries.

Comics/Graphic Novel Groups

This is much can take the form of a graphic novel reading/discussion group (like the regular reading groups, or a comics-creation group (like the writing and/or art groups). Reluctant artists who write and writers who are nervous about drawing can be paired to make jointly produced comics.

Anime/Manga Groups

Anime and/or manga groups may wish to watch episodes of favoured anime together, swap drawing tips (and drawing pens!), learn to make better cosplay costumes, or simply want to chat about their favourite new manga.

An important note: if the group is wants to screen anime episodes or films, you will need to contact the distributor of the TV series or movie in order to gain permission. You may need to pay a fee in order screen films or television, although not all anime distributors charge for this service. See the Film Showings section (below) for more information.

Film Showings and/or Film Clubs

Film showings and/or film clubs entice teens uninterested in reading to attending library events. A film club may involve screening, discussing, or even making films (if you lack film equipment, you can always apply for a grant or bursary).

There are many out-of-copyright films legally available to watch on archive.org. Showing contemporary films is a trickier proposition. Many copyrighted English-language films are licensed by Film Bank. Film Bank charges a flat rate of £95 (including VAT) per year, if you don’t charge for the film or advertise the film showing outside of your library. If you want to advertise and/or charge, the cost is a £92 per film, plus a £150 deposit needed in order to open a Film Bank account.

Other companies (such as Optimum Releasing, who license Studio Ghibli’s animated features) charge a flat rate of around £92 per film. You can always subsidize the cost by charging a small amount to attendees or applying for funding to back the project.

Gaming Groups

Gaming groups can focus on real-time games from board games like monopoly to Role-Playing Games (RPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons, tabletop games such as Warhammer, or Live Action Role Playing Games (LARPs). Alternately, if you video game consoles or well-kitted computers, the group can play video games (from MarioKart to Guitar Hero) or live multi-player computer games.

Usually these sessions run themselves unless members are new and need to have complicated rules explained to them. The most important thing is to build a group around one type of gaming for which you have the equipment, otherwise you might end up with a lot of disappointed gamers.

You can find even more information about gaming in libraries on Teen Librarian.

Computer Groups

Know a group of teens with a passion for Linux, programming, and/or gadgets? A computer group provides a place to exchange ideas, open-source software, and maybe even write new programs or solder circuit boards together (okay, so soldering is a fire hazard, but the rest is viable!).

If you’ve got a great idea for a group that isn’t featured here, email yalibraryuk@gmail.com or tweet it at us @yalibraryuk. As always, you’ll be fully credited for your contribution!