I did my last teen program at the branch last night. And when I say “did” I mean “prepped” because nobody showed up. This was one of our “Teen Program in a Box” programs that our YA librarian for the system (we have one for 20 branches) got a grant to put together. In the box was a Wii and a projector and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Our branch head was sure that’d get the kids coming. Nope. Not a one.
There are a number of reasons why no one showed up.
One: I am not a natural-born promoter. We had a bunch of posters that I put up but it’s not like I accosted every teenaged person entering the library and told them about the program and how amazing it was going to be and got them to sign up right then. It’s possible that many of the teens wandering through our library had no idea it was happening.
Two: Timing. This was the first week after school was officially out, so people probably are in “I don’t want to do anything” mode. I know I was when I was in high school. Also, it was scheduled for 5pm-6pm. That’s a fine time for a book club during the school year, since they can come by between school and supper, but probably not the most natural time to go play video games. Also, it being on a Tuesday meant that the one boy who regularly comes to YA programming couldn’t show up.
Three: The Wii itself. I mean, yes our branch is in a low-income neighbourhood so it’s possible that teens who’d want a Wii wouldn’t have easy access to one. But you can find them in pawnshops now. A Wii isn’t some crazy new thing that people just have to try anymore. And playing videogames with strangers isn’t a de facto awesome thing. It would be if the program was for 9-12 year olds. They would be excited just to play. For teens I think you need something extra, like a bunch of friends that people don’t see all the time (like they go to different schools or whatever), or some connection to the wider world. I had a bunch of library books about gaming and stuff ready to go, but really the draw was supposed to be “Hey! Play Wii games! In the library!”
So yeah. My experiments with teen programming come to a whimpering end. Selah. Maybe I’ll learn a whole bunch of secret techniques for doing better at library school.