Then there are the passive programs which I've put together without much thought or planning and they've gone over very well. This is one of them.
I worked the weekend of Thanksgiving and it was quiet. I got thinking about how much I want to know what my teens like a little bit more, and I was thinking about how fun it would be if teens told each other what it is they like. Because it's been a rough winter here already, I thought encouraging thoughts of favorite and good things would be worthwhile.
Enter: tell me your favorite.
I grabbed a snowflake picture, pasted 4 to a sheet, and printed off a pile of them. I cut them into squares, then tossed them into a brochure holder, along with a bunch of small pencils. I did not write anything on the flakes at all. Instead, I made a sign that simply asked teens to write down their favorite things on a snowflake. It could be a movie, a television show, or a book, and it didn't need to be anything new. They didn't have to put their name or any identifying information.
I used one of our display cubes which faces the seating area in the teen section to put the flakes and sign up, along with our raffle box for completed flakes to be put into. I printed out duplicate signs about the program and hung them around the teen area and stepped away.
Every few days -- I only work 3 or so days a week -- I would check the box. The first week or so, there was nothing in there. I didn't get too worried though.
Then in the second week, my box of teen favorites exploded, and it hasn't stopped seeing flakes since. As I've gathered them up, I've cut them into circles and then taped them to the sides of the stacks. And I think by seeing those flakes on the stacks, teens not only feel like they're being heard and cared about, but they're encouraged to contribute, as well.
There are flakes on the ends of four of our shelves. After I took the photos, I noticed that there were a few more in the box to be hung, too.
One thing I worried about with the program is the thing you always have to worry about with a passive program and teenagers: would there be something inappropriate?
Of the 50 or so flakes I've had turned in, there was only one thing that couldn't be hung . . . and I almost hung it anyway to embarrass the teen who wrote "I like secks :)". Instead, I put it in my file folder at work to remember that teens will always make you laugh because of stuff like that. Since I'm the one collecting, reading, and hanging these guys up, it was no big deal at all.
The program took about 15 to 20 minutes to pull together, and because it's been so well-received, I think I'll leave it up through the winter, even as I swap out the actual passive programs next month. In the summer, perhaps I'll do the same thing. The cost was a couple minutes of Google image searching, copying and pasting, some white paper and black ink (I didn't even print them in color), and time to cut and hang them up periodically.
There are no incentives, no prizes, and no rewards for teens who do this. But the value is they see their voices being heard in the library and they get to see that this is really their space.