Ask an Agent: How Do You Attract Tweens to Library?

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Question:  I’m a new librarian working with Tweens (8-12 yr olds) in a relatively small community. Our library is located on a street that
doesn’t allow much foot traffic. So my question is…. How do I get Tweens into the library for programs? We do a lot of in-library promotion but we always get the same 5-8 kids. I’ve reached out to schools and our social media outreach is very slow. What do I do now?

Emma (Brooklyn Public Library) says:

I think the first thing is to consider how long you’ve been doing Tween programs. You mentioned that you’re new so are you in your first year still? If that’s the case, you’re already doing great with a regular group of tweens coming to your programs! Building up an audience in any library takes time. Tweens can hear about programs through promotion in their school or on your social media, but hearing about it from friends is more powerful. Something else I’ve found works well is to promote specific programs in advance. Do you host a gaming program every Tuesday? Put up signs near the areas with Tween books or on your reference desk so they know it’s happening every week. Mention your programs in your class visits and outreach with dates and times. If you have things that rotate (for instance, my library has a weekly craft program where the themed craft changes every week) then promote it letting people know what’s happening. It’s frustrating to not be able to have tweens just walk in but with advance promotion you will eventually build up that following.

Kelsey (Burnham Memorial Library ) says:

Do you have a local business/hangout that will allow you to post flyers? Does a school bus drive by the library?–we’re working on making the library a formal bus stop so kids can come straight to us and hang out. Definitely encourage carpooling! My Anime club kids are roughly 11-14 yr olds and the 9 of them regularly arrive because of maybe 3 parents.

Sarah (Warren-Trumbull County Public Library) says:

It can take time to build up an audience. I’m excited that you’re getting 5-8 kids! Be sure to keep your program times consistent, and if you can, host a weekly event. I have found that hosting a BIG event (like a game tournament or something similar) on one of the usual nights brings in new kids, and some tend to stick around. It’s also possible that your community’s tweens are already very busy, and/or you’re scheduling at a time when they already have commitments. Talk to the tweens who are attending to see if this is true. Maybe your event is exactly what those 5-8 tweens need, and if so, bravo!

Stephen (Chapel Hill Public Library) says:

Have you tried reaching out to groups outside of traditional schools? Homeschool groups or smaller community schools typically have less bureaucracy to deal with and are usually very happy to be thought of. As far as traditional schools, have you talked to the school library media specialists? They’re know libraries and often are more willing to work together (though some of them are saddled with so many extra, non-library related duties that they aren’t able to help as much as they would like.) You may try giving your regular teens things to bring to their classroom teachers, guerilla teen advisory board style. Teachers have a harder time ignoring their beloved students than they do emails from a stranger. You also might want to reach out to other places teens hang out in your community – malls, comic stores, etc. They may be willing to post flyers and it could lead to collaborations, summer reading prizes, etc.


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