Tag Archives: self-directed programming

Test Your Skills at the Library

Clock[1]This month I’ve rounded up some ideas for self-directed skill test stations. These links are variations on ninja skills and “Minute to Win It” style games. They can be set up with simple instructions for kids to test themselves or play against others.

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Skill Stations at erinisinire – these stations are TMNT themed, but the games work whether you choose to brand them or not
  • Ninja Challenge at Catch the Possibilities – a thorough list of skills to test, these were staffed stations and some will require more space than others
  • Cup Stacking at hushlander – engaging for kids who think they’re too old to play with blocks
  • Minute to Win It games at Ms. Kelly at the Library – the Halloween theme is perfect for October, but the games can be easily adapted for other themes
  • 60 Second Challenge Activities at NEO Today – 5 challenges for school-aged kids that includes a complete list of supplies

While some of these are timed activities, kids can become quite engaged in trying to improve their performances. In addition to being quick and self-directed, these activities all use fairly basic, inexpensive, and easy to obtain items. You may have noticed that several of the activities used supplies that were leftover from another program.

Have you tried skill challenge stations like these in your library? How did it go? Share your ideas and suggestions in the comments!

Library Guessing Games

question-mark[1]This month I’ve rounded up ideas for self-directed guessing games at the library. Most of these guessing games are of the “test your knowledge” variety and do not require offering a prize or declaring a winner.


To encourage regular library visits, you could do a different guessing game each month. You could have a card patrons could get stamped for each month they participate.

Have you tried any guessing games as self-directed library displays? How did they go? Share your suggestions in the comments!

Programming with Post-It Notes

sticky-notes1-400x300[1]This month I’ve rounded up some easy self-directed program ideas for teens featuring Post-It notes. Two of these programs require multiple colors of sticky notes. Purchasing colored sticky notes cost about $20, which was considered a low-cost program by the librarians. The other two are little more flexible, and, while plain might work best, you could even use sticky notes with logos you’ve picked up for free or been given as promotional items if you want to keep it really low-cost. The two that require colored sticky notes are also require the most display space, which may be limiting for smaller libraries.

  • Post-It Note Art: Use colored sticky notes to create designs, using an online tool from 3M.

Do you have an abundance of sticky notes on hand? Have you tried Post-It programming? Share your stories in the comments?

Library Clubs

kids[1]This month I’ve rounded up some ideas for self-directed library clubs. No, not your typical book club. These are clubs anyone can join just by visiting the library, and they are designed to encourage families to visit the library.

These ideas are all from Marge Loch-Wouters a children’s librarian in Wisconsin who blogs at Tiny Tips for Library Fun. You can tell clubs are a successful programming tactic at her library, since she has multiple ideas. Why not give it a try at your library?

  • Reading is Key: A program for babies and toddlers designed to bridge the breaks in the story time schedule.

Have you hosted a self-directed library club? Did it increase the number of visits to your library? Share your stories in the comments!

Self-Directed Seek and Find Library Programs

1239796766_treasure_map_sample[1]This month I’ve rounded up some ideas for self-directed seek and find activities in the library. Even in small libraries, scavenger hunts can be a great way to introduce your patrons to sections of the library which they might not otherwise discover or explore.

  • Gnome Hunting at Reading with Red: Find the gnome and check out a book from that section of shelving; a great way to also increase circulation!
  • Library Scavenger Hunt at Lessa Librarian: Take photos and have patrons locate where the item is in the library, and several other ideas.
  • Great Character Hunt at Fat Girl Reading: Find multiple characters throughout the library.
  • Summer Seek and Find at The Show Me Librarian: Find a different character each week and learn something new about the library!
  • Wimpy Station at Future Librarian Superhero: Use a hunt to highlight new additions to your collection or to celebrate a newly published book in a popular series.
  • Tween Scavenger Hunt at Bryce Don’t Play: Includes downloadable materials to make it even easier for you!
  • I Spy Board at Abby the Librarian: You don’t even have to hide anything!

Note that a few of these programs do not include a prize, and instead use the intangible reward of contributing to charting the progress of the program with a sticker on a chart or their name on the wall when they complete the activity.

Have you tried library scavenger hunts? Share your tips for success in the comments!

Self-Directed Programming Round Up

kids[1]At the Summer Reading Workshops in February, I got feedback that many librarians in North Dakota were interested in more passive programming, aka self-directed programming, ideas. I started a Pinterest board to feature self-directed ideas, and I will try to regularly round up and highlight ideas you can use in your library that will hopefully be both easy for you and fun for you patrons.

Each of these links include multiple ideas:

Some of these ideas will work better for some libraries than others, but hopefully everyone can at least get good ideas for brainstorming what might appeal to your community. If you try any of them, use the comments to let us know what worked or how you tweaked it to make it work better for you!

What successful self-directed programs have you run at your library? Share your suggestions in the comments!

Getting Started with Self-Directed Programming

Young student studying homeworkThe goal of self-directed, aka “passive,” programming is to offer something interactive for your patrons on their own schedule, so you don’t have to worry about putting a lot of effort into a program, only to hope everyone is free to attend at 3pm on Tuesday – patrons can participate whenever they stop in without assistance from you. If you do have a regular after-school crowd, this is a great way to keep them engaged. Let’s look at what you’ll need to consider to get started. Continue reading

Quick and Easy Programming Ideas

libraryWe all like to offer programs to bring patrons into our libraries, but some programs can require a lot of time to plan and execute, and it can be disheartening if people don’t show up. Some libraries simply don’t have the space to have groups of people gather in the library for a program.  The following list provides ideas that can be used to attract people to the library without requiring you to invest a lot of time in planning or execution, and they don’t require everyone to be in the building at the same time. Continue reading

Passive Programming for Teens

teen booksTeens are a notoriously difficult group to attract to the library. With jobs, sports, and other after-school activities, they don’t have a lot of time for attending library programs. You may have been frustrated in the past with low attendance at sessions geared toward teens. Despite the challenges, you still want your library to offer something for teen patrons. Consider passive programming.

In a post called “Reaching Teens Subversively through Passive Programming,” at ALA’s Programming Librarian blog, Kelly Jensen and Jackie Parker demonstrate how “passive programming engages teens in the library without requiring much from staff in terms of supervision.” As a bonus, these also tend to be low cost activities as well!

Since passive programming doesn’t require you to schedule a program at a certain time, it gives teen more flexibility for participating on their schedule. It also serves to draw in the more introverted teens, who may not be inclined to participate in traditional programming.

Amongst others, Jensen and Parker suggest the following programs:

Even though you may not be working with directly with the teens, “the input you get from teens via these programs helps you better tailor your collection, your services, and your knowledge of your own teen population.”

Have you tried passive programming in your library? What programs have been successful? Share your ideas in the comments!