Monday, August 8, 2011

Tween: it rhymes with scene!

As some of you know, I'm working as a consultant for two different libraries this summer. (What is this "vacation" of which you speak? We do not have this where I come from ...) At the Derry Public Library, in New Hampshire, part of what I did was look at their programming schedule, plus data from past programs, to identify gaps in service.

I discovered that there were 4 regular programs for kids between 0 and 5, but only the occasional program for kids 6 to 11. I'm surprised by the number of libraries at which this is true. Of course, there's a lot less competition when you're offering programs for 0- to 5-year-olds. While elementary school kids also have karate and piano lessons and homework and street gangs (not funny, but true), the only other demands on preschoolers' time are nap time, snack time, and play time.

But I think there are two other factors at play:
  1. There aren't the same tried-and-true formulas for working with kids in "middle childhood." You have to respond to the needs of your community and play to your strengths. You can't just look up a story time format in a book and execute a successful program. I'm not saying preschool story times aren't super important. They are super important! But, sorry. They're just not rocket science. It's really hard to fail with them. Whereas it's easy to fail with programs for older kids.
  2. Many libraries lump 6- to 8-year-olds and 9- to 11-year-olds into the same programs. You're not going to attract 9- to 11-year-olds that way. Maybe that used to work, but have you heard the maxim KAGOY? It stands for "Kids are getting older younger." Love it. Marketers have created this "tween" category, and there's no way we can go back to lumping those budding adolescents in with the kiddies. We've got to show that we "get" them and we welcome them.
In response to this, I have searched the Internet high and low for resources on programs and services for tweens. And I've found some real gems, so I thought I'd share:

Amanda Crowley's "What is a Tween?" website for the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tween-friendly Programs from the ALSC's Kids@Your Library Publicity, Programming, and Promotion Tool Kit.

Joanna Axelrod's presentation to the California Library Association on a Tween 2011 Summer Reading Program [PPT].

Rita Solan's article on The Tween Market in the Michican Library Association Forum.

Brianne Wilkins Bester and Tiffany Pahman's "The Tween Scene" presentation [PPT] from the 2010 Ontario Library Superconference and "The Tween Scene: A year of programs for 10- to 15-year-olds" website.

Faris, C. (2009). Betwixt and Between: Tweens in the Library. Children & Libraries, 7(1), 43-5. Retrieved August 4, 2011, from

URI only Library/Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text (EBSCOhost).

Goodstein, A. (2008). What Would Madison Avenue Do?. School Library Journal, 54(5), 40-3. Retrieved August 4, 2011, from

URI only Library/Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text (EBSCOhost).

And of course, each of these has a bibliography so you can choose your own adventure!

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