National Teen Library Lock-in 2014

On Friday, August 1st teens at my library participated in the National Teen Library Lock-in for the third time. It’s a night just for teens. We host the annual event to celebrate teens who are part of the summer program and to introduce new teens to the library.

This year, the highlight was the new continent-wide Minecraft event. A dozen teens played the popular game on a virtual server rented for the event with teens from twenty other libraries across the country. Time zones dictated how many teens we played with, but it was fun to play and fun to watch. Instead of seeing teens playing online games by themselves or with unknown rivals, our players coached each other, explored the Minecraft world together and were thrilled to be at the library.

After a couple of hours of Minecraft (we played at the end of the six hour timeline because of our time zone), we ate pizza and ice cream before ending the event with an hour of Minute to Win It. We didn’t submit our times and team scores to the National Lock-in contest, but teens loved it. The gaggle of teens, who strangers for the most part, were paired up randomly and, surprisingly, played as if they all already knew each other. I love that.

My favorite part of the night was building community- online and in the library. That seems more important than ever these days and libraries are natural community centers that bring all sorts of people together in a shared space.

For more about the event, check out the piece I wrote for SLJ Teen this week with my organizing partner, Jack Malked at the Chippewa River District Library.

For this three hour event, we have teens register, which is unusual for our library but necessary. We also have parents complete a permission form since it is an after hours event.

To prepare for the Minecraft play, my coworker loaded the Minecraft launcher on to our public computers. We also purchased six Minecraft accounts from MinecraftEDU so teens without Minecraft accounts could also play- most teens used our accounts. We’ll be providing access to the library Minecraft accounts during regular library hours also.

The Lock-in wiki is always full of craft and game ideas so we grabbed some of the Minute to Win It games and had most of the items on hand. We also brought out our DIY Craft boxes during the Minecraft play so teens who needed a break could do origami or make a duct tape project.

We ordered pizza and bought ice cream and drinks at minimal cost.

We awarded the teen summer program grand prizes at the event and had some smaller prizes and books to give teens who played to Minute to Win It.


Summer Reading 2014

Our summer reading program starts today. Hundreds of kids, teens, and adults will read, discover and explore together now through the first of August. Like many libraries across the country, we are using the Fizz, Boom, READ theme for our kids program and the Spark a Reaction theme for our teen program. As a huge fan of integrating STEAM into storytimes and other library programs, the science oriented summer program has been fun to plan!

Behind the scenes, our theme is slightly different. I see the library as part of our community’s information web.  Not only do we provide access to a plethora ofrobot_big resources in the library and through our website, but we connect patrons with experts and resources beyond the library. This summer we’ve expanded our community connections, integrating local artists and experts into our Maker Mondays sries, our special events, our reading log activity pages, and even our reading prizes. I want kids to know their community and discover the many mentors that might help spark new interests and help develop growing talents. Here’s what community connections we have planned for this summer.

Maker Mondays
For two hours each Monday in June and July I or a local expert will explore a new idea to help kids ages 8-18 to create with high and low tech tools. Programs include: Make Your Own Pizza (with a local mobile wood fired pizza oven), Sweater-T-shirt Chop Shop, Propulsion & Flying Machines, Electricity & Brush Bots, Multimedia Art, and 3-D Printing.

Our preschool EXPLORE storytimes during the summer include a larger ae group and could be consider family storytimes. Kids ages 3-7 hear stories, sing, dance, play and explore multiple stations run by a teen assistant and myself. We successfully redesigned our summer storytimes last summer as part of our plan to offer regular programs to all of our kids under eleven. We also continue to offer our toddler storytimes throughout the summer. Themes include: Taste & Smell, Water, Sound & Music, Simple Machines, Independence Day, Construction, Robots, and Camouflage & Colors. We’ll also welcome local naturalists for two storytimes during the program.

Special Events
Throughout the summer program we’ll be hosting a variety of events featuring both community members and visiting presenters. Programs include: Dogs and Crime Science with a local K-9 Unit, Beauty and the Beast Marionette Puppet Show, Stuffed Animal Sleepover, 4th Annual LEGO Contest, a Robot Sumo/Arduino Programming Workshop, a Sci-Fi Fan Fiction Writing Contest for teens, and a second 3-D Printing Demonstration (for adults).

Other Community Connections
At our local museum, a special exhibit will be on display all summer. It focuses on the living history and Indigenous System of Knowledge of the Dena’ina people, Native Alaskans. In support of the exhibit, we have included an activity page from the exhibit in our reading log with information about the exhibit and we will welcome a Dena’ina storyteller to the library for a family program.
One of our reading prizes includes a magnifying glass. When I ordered them I intended to award them by themselves, but then I came across the nature scavenger hunt in the SRP manual. I had an idea. I bagged up the magnifying glass and a copy of the scavenger hunt in a plastic bag. When I was talking to a friend who is a local environmental educator, she told me about a nature trading post they have at their visitor center. We came up with the idea to include information about the trading post with the scavenger hunt so kids could trade any cool objects they find during their hunt. They can also return their bags and completed hunt for a prize drawing at the end of the program. And the very smart friend? She’ll be presenting about Shackleton and the Endurance to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dramatic expedition.
For the third year, our library will host Teen Night @ the Library, as part of the National Teen Library Lock-in event. Last year almost forty libraries participated in virtual author visits, games, and challenges. Each library plans their own event and then connects with others in different ways. This year I am working with librarians and IT folks to host a Minecraft event that will allow teens at libraries across the county to explore the same Minecraft world at the same time. Want to know more? Check out Chain Reaction!

What do you have planned for this summer?