In an effort to make the Teen space more about teens, I implemented some passive programs to get them comfortable in the space. My first big project was a March Madness display that was a showdown of YA books.
The idea of the program is simple enough. I had a bulletin board with the bracket up for the entire month. This allows everyone to see what’s going on even if they choose not to participate.
The voting was done on sheets that looked pretty much the same as the board.
What I Learned
Start smaller. I originally had ~100 books for the teens to narrow down to the final 32 books. I think that overwhelmed them. I noticed that more people participated when there were fewer books to choose from. If I were to do this again, I would start with 16 books and work our way from there.
Starting smaller would be helpful for you, the employee, as well. Fewer books makes it easier to make a bulletin board. One of my struggles was trying to fit all the book covers on to a sheet of paper for the teens to vote on. Each week it took several hours to get everything lined up and fit correctly. It would have been much easier to start with fewer books for me.
Leave the program as passive as possible. Initially I had the teens turn in their ballots to the information desk. As you might expect, that didn’t work out so well. I think we had 1 or 2 votes that week? After that, I decided to get a basket and leave it in the YA area for them to leave the completed forms in but they could still bring the forms to information if they wanted to. That was a much better idea. We had quite a few more votes turned in this way.
Timing is everything. We have a good number of teens come in earlier in the day on Saturdays. Initially, I didn’t get my new voting sheets out or the new bulletin board up until almost the end of the day on Saturday. As a result I didn’t get many votes. I switched it up pretty quickly and when I got everything changed out before we opened I noticed more people participating.