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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Getting teens in the library door

  By J. R. Wagner

Hey everyone,

On Saturday, August 25th I was lucky enough to be at the PAYA festival in West Chester Pennsylvania.

What is PAYA?

From their website:

PAYA is a coalition of Pennsylvania’s young adult authors (over 30), bloggers, librarians, readers, and other book-lovers.  Our mission is two-fold (1) To share the love we have for young adult literature with others in our state and (2) To raise money to support Pennsylvania’s libraries, with a focus on helping build Young Adult library collections and Young Adult services

This is a super-cool event with a great collection of YA authors (see them all HERE) dedicated to helping the cause, which is in desperate need here in Pennsylvania.

One of the unique aspects of this festival is the Librarian only workshop, which I was fortunate enough to be a part of. A.S. King, the keynote speaker, Jennifer Hubbard and Shannon Delany were all on the panel as well (and all wonderful people!).

One of the resources I used in preparation for this panel is a contact I made through the Roanoke County Public Library teen events coordinator, Sara Vaughan. Sara is one of those innovative thinkers that sees the importance of thinking outside the box when it comes to getting teens in the door at the library.

They have a great website HERE

If anyone has any questions for Sara, she was kind enough to offer her email address and would be happy to connect with authors and librarians.

Below I've included the outline I prepared for the panel.

Getting teens in the door

By J. R Wagner

At a book signing in Roanoke, VA a few weeks ago.  On one side sat Kiera Cass, bestselling author of The Selection and on the other Sarah Vaughn –teen coordinator forthe Roanoke County Public Library system.  What a great day that was!

Yes! They have a designated teen coordinator! (I am very jealous)

In our brief discussion about Sarah’s programs, I was most excited by…

 Teen Centers include:
·      Ipads
·      E-readers
·      Minecraft gaming server
·      4 PC’s
·      4 iMac’s
·      AV equipment for gaming, movies, music etc.
·      Typically isolated from the rest of the library
·      Functions primarily as a social area
·      No one over 20 allowed
·      After 5, no one under 12
·      5-9 quiet hours (Mon-Thu)

Outreach and initiatives
o  School presentations promoting teen programs
o  Newsletters circulated through the schools
o  Free tutoring
o  Pre-college informational (do’s and don’ts of the college essay, dorm decorating, budgeting…more) for seniors.
o  Partnerships with local businesses for reading program prizes (gift cards, retail items etc.)
o  Partnership with Barnes & Noble to host teen days and YA author signings.
o  Substance abuse prevention programs.

Great Programs

·      Monthly gaming night (no eye rolling please)
·      Gathering of the Geeks
·      Inkslingers: teen writing club
·      Artsy Antics –arts and crafts for older kids
·      Film Fanatics –film club
·      Summer reading program –earn points by reading books over the summer (signed off by parent), which can then be auctioned for prizes at the end of the summer.
·      Passive programs
·      Scavenger hunts
·      Trivia
·      Games
·      Teen Read Week
·      Short Story Contest
·      Video Contest

All of these initiatives are designed with a single purpose in mind: Getting teens through the door and into the library.

The video games, gaming nights and film clubs, you may say aren’t what a library should be providing.  I believe they are (pardon the expression) gateway drugs into other more brain-stimulating programs. 

Would you prefer you child playing a video game alone in his or her bedroom or in a social environment where there is a chance they can branch out into other more productive ways to entertain themselves?

They serve only 247,000 and provide all these great programs.  Does your library offer any of these programs?  Why not? What is needed to move in this direction?

I don’t believe the library is about providing books, wiping our hands clean and walking away anymore.  The library has the potential to become a place that, outside the pressures of school and free of parental helicoptering, can become a haven for teens to learn and grow (while not realizing they’re learning and growing).

How can authors help?

I doubt there isn’t an author in here who wouldn’t be happy to participate in any number of programs offered by their local libraries –most of them at no charge.  
·      Special guest on a Teen Writing club night
·      Short story contest moderator
·      Gathering of the Geeks (I’m totally in) special guest
·      Book club discussion (read their book, author comes in and discusses with teens)
·      And on and on and on

Perhaps authors are viewed as marketing vultures with no interests beyond selling their own book?
o  Not true (I’m sure there are some)
o  Most are more than willing to give back to their community, other communities and beyond with a priceless donation of time.
o  We WANT to be involved as often as possible
o  We LOVE interacting with our readers and their peers –it is particularly enjoyable when it isn’t via a computer
o  I can’t think of a better form of marketing than giving back to your community. (For those who need motivation beyond the greater good.)

Authors are creative! So much so that the creativity flows well beyond the time when the writing is done for the day.

I would love to brainstorm new and innovative programs with my library.  Creativity begets creativity!

Authors for fundraising

Want a boost in fundraising? 
·      Have an author signing at your next event with proceeds going to the library.
Need a silent auction item?
·      Signed book
·      Signed Poster
·      Win an author for your classroom
·      Win an author for your book-club
·      On and on and on

We LOVE to share our craft
Most authors truly enjoy sharing their writing skills with others
Use us!
We’re everywhere!

As always, find interviews, writing samples, videos, contests and more on my website.

In bookstores now

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