Tearable Puns and Other Passive Teen Programs

When I do my monthly attendance figures, children’s program attendance is always much larger than my teen attendance. Of course, programs for kids are usually well-attended, so we have lots of those. Teen programs, not so much. I tend to have less teen programs because of low attendance or none at all. This past month, I have cancelled at least 2 programs for teens because no one signed up.

When I found out about this amazing thing called Passive Programming, I was so excited! I didn’t have to plan an actual program – put aside time, make flyers, advertise, send emails, etc. – and then probably have no one show up. I could make a bulletin board, maybe pair it with a book display, and that’s it! When you don’t have much time to spend on teen programs, this is a great way at to at least do something that might make the teens notice.

You might be asking, “Can you seriously count attendance for passive programs? Does that even count?” YOU BETCHA! Well, I guess you might want to check with your director or board of trustees first, but I just add pictures of each passive program or “interactive display” to my monthly trustee report.

Most of my passive program ideas have come from Pinterest (here’s link to my Teen Library board) and other great library blogs like Teen Services Underground. I might put my own twist on them to make them work for our library. Here are few examples of some that I’ve done:

Tearable Puns Passive Program

Tearable Puns Passive Program

Tearable Puns. Requires little to no effort. You might have a hard time passing this off as a program – go with “interactive display!” –  but I did anyways. I printed it, hung it on my teen bulletin board and I counted each missing pun as a teen attending the “program”. The way I figure it, someone (a teen, I hope) stopped and took the 5 seconds to read the sign and then took even more time to TEAR OFF A PIECE OF PAPER! In the land of teen library programming, this is sometimes as good as it gets. I believe that I tore off the first pun to get things going (and NO I didn’t count it.)

I found this idea through Pinterest but I will be completely honest: I can’t remember if I then did a search for a printable form of this or if I ended up copying and pasting an image onto a word doc to enlarge it. The Tearable Pun link does not take you to a printable form.

What did you read this summer? Passive program/interactive display.

What did you read this summer? Passive program/interactive display.

What Did You Read This Summer? Not one of my prettiest boards, but it was functional. I put out blank review forms, pens, and pushpins. I think I only had 5 or so, but I counted it as participation. To get things going, I did a review of my own (anonymous, of course!) in the hopes that other teens would do one as long as someone else had gone first! Probably found the idea on Pinterest, but not exactly sure where. Will update if I come across it.

What's Your Superhero Name? Passive program/interactive display

What’s Your Superhero Name? Passive program/interactive display

What’s Your Superhero Name? “Super” easy and fun! I did this one a couple of summers ago for the Hero Summer Reading theme. I printed out a list I found on, yes, Pinterest, where you match your first, middle and last names and bought some of those “Hello my name is” blank name tags. I did a couple of my own to get it started. I know my staff did some too so I only counted the ones I knew were from patrons. And yeah, there were probably some adults in there too, but who cares? (This link to the superhero name list is not the one I ended up using but I couldn’t find the one from my display.)

Book displays like “Blind Date with a Book,” (this link is to an older one I did a few years ago) can definitely be considered passive programs. Last year I tried to make it more exciting. Each wrapped up book that was checked had a rating slip attached to it. The teen (or adult) could rate the book and return the rating slip to enter into a raffle for a $10 iTunes gift card. I had a decent amount of books checked out! Adding that little bit of incentive to participate definitely didn’t hurt.

I am planning to start putting out easy crafts in the Teen Space soon, things like duct-tape bookmarks or decorating shells with markers (both of these ideas are from Pinterest, but I found out about them from the MLS Teen Summit I recently attended!!) I can estimate how many teens might have made crafts by the amount of materials used. Minus the amount that was most-likely swiped – but hey, they stopped by to swipe it! Yay! This idea is similar to our weekly drop-in craft table in the children’s room, where we estimate how many kids participated every month and add this to our attendance.

What are some of your successful Passive Programs for teens?


-Miss Molly

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