Saturday, May 3, 2014

Teen Programming for "Norms"

Anyone who knows me, or who has been following this blog for awhile has heard me bemoan the lack of teens in my library (in fact, anyone over the age of 12 and under the age of 50 avoids this place like the plague). Despite trying a variety of programming with mixed results, I cannot get a steady stream of kids up in here.

I've been following the wise, wise advise that I picked up somewhere: do what you are interested in. And it works, if the passion is there, it comes through the program and the patrons can tell. It works.

BUT, today I overheard one of my coworkers talking about a programmer from another library. She said, "He doesn't do any of the stuff Textnjava does, his teens like the (insert the hockey team) and (insert local football team). You know, normal things."

First of all, you should have heard how the word "stuff" was said (as if she were referring to toxic waste and/or child predators).

And to clarify, the "stuff"  I do with teens is:

Minecraft (mostly drew tweens, and then attendance died off by fourth offering)
Anime (first one was great, one kid came to the second)
Make and Take Crafts (no one shows up for these, no matter how I promote them)
Movies (I get bigger audiences in summer)
Legos (mostly drew tweens, then attendance died off after a year of monthly programs)
Book Clubs (nope, dead in the water. Tried several formats and food. Nope)
Sherlock (display)
Volunteer program (shudder, shudder)
and this is just at the main library where I work (I am split between two libraries)

The big difference between the two branches, teen-wise, are the homeschoolers. One branch serves a large population of homeschoolers, the other does not.
Home school kids come out for library programs. Truth.

I am aware that all of these programs could be considered geeky "stuff". Because: I am a geek. I'm not ashamed of that. At all.

From, check out #5:


[geek] Show IPA Slang.
a digital-technology expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often used disparagingly by others).
a person who has excessive enthusiasm for and some expertise about a specialized subject or activity: a foreign-film geek.
a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.
a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.
verb (used without object)
to be overexcited about a specialized subject or activity, or to talk about it with excessive enthusiasm  
It is possible I just am not sure how to create programming for "norms". And, honestly, not being one or raising one, I can't imagine what they would come out for. I'm open to ideas. Too bad someone doesn't have a blog called "Programming for Norms".

Advanced Selfie-taking?
Argue about sports franchises over pretzel sticks?
How to find rides to the mall?

I'm kidding. I really am. The whole thing is foreign to me, but kind of fascinating.
Here's what I 'm not willing to do: hire paid performers to come in and host programs for kids who think the library is an uncool place to be. From that self-inflicted rule, there must be somewhere to go.

I am also not willing to hunt teens down in the community and force them to take surveys. That is something my library, as a system, should have done years ago. That is waaaaaay beyond my job description and I just can't do everything.

By the way, I looked up the library where the "super normal" librarian who loves sports works. He does not actually do any programs. Nope. So, I can't even steal ideas from him.

Edit: As soon as I finished putting the spit and polish on this post, this article grabbed my attention:

#6 say,"We're happy to report that libraries are indeed for nerds and that everyone-- everyone-- is a nerd about something"

And that might just be the key.