Ask An Agent: How Do You Get Teens to Register?

askanagent2You’ve got questions,  we’ve got answers! Our volunteer Agents are on the job! Here’s what they have to say this week….

Question: How do you get kids to register for teen events? We had a “Hobbit” birthday party, I had a registration sheet, 30 teens signed up, had food, snacks, games and prizes for this many people…then on the day of the event there were maybe six kids standing at the door of our meeting room. The kids that signed up had done so without letting their parents know.


Elizabeth (Commerce Township Community Library) says:
I think this issue is pretty universal, but I usually have the opposite problem.  Last summer, I had a program where I had 18 teens signed up and had prepped for 25, but the night of the program, over 60 teens actually showed up!  It was scary and overwhelming, but I had lots of things for the teens to do and everyone had a great time; in fact, the teens are still talking about it!  Because I often have things like this happen, I try to do programs with a lot of self-running stations that don’t necessarily take individual supplies for each attendee.  For example, at the program of the 60 teens, I only had one craft and five stations with various activities like games like ring toss and bowling where any number of teens could participate.  For the one craft station, I gave precedence to the teens who had registered, but thanks to the bounty of activities going on all at the same time, no one went away unhappy.  To cope with the issue of having food for any number of teens at any given program, I buy non-perishable snacks like granola bars, Rice Krispies Treats, and small bags of chips in bulk, keep them at my desk, and replenish them as needed.

Michele (Westwood High School Library ) says:
When I have a teen event at our high school (where a sign-up is involved) I have the students enter their phone numbers for a text reminder and that usually works well. You could also request an email and send out a reminder, but I find teens don’t check their email regularly.  Recently, I had a Robotics event in partnership with our city library that students from the Junior High near by were invited to. I had the students turn in a simple parent permission slip because it was an after school activity. The permission slip served the dual purpose of gaining a commitment from the students and notification for the parents.

Natalie (Farmingdale Public Library) says:
I have a very hard time getting teens to sign up for programs. They are promoted in the library and I post them on the teen Facebook page. You can see if the local middle and high school will let you put flyers up in the school libraries to garner more interest. If I do get teens to register, I have called them the day of the program to remind them that it is happening. It is not always possible for me to do this, but it does work when I do.

Nikki (Cleveland Bradley County Public Library) says:
I use this fabulous free (FREE!) tool called Sign-Up Genius. Not only can I use it to collect contact information for the kids (and their parents!), it sends out reminder emails three days before the event and generates pretty handy Excel friendly reports that can be printed and used as a checklist at the door. I still have kids signing up for things without showing, but it has decreased dramatically since we started using Sign-Up Genius. I use it for special program sign-ups and for summer reading. And, because it’s online, people can visit the library website and sign themselves up and any staff person anywhere in the library can sign kids up too. I’ve been using it for three years now and have no complaints. There are ads on the sidebar unless you pay for an upgrade to pro, but it hasn’t been anything nefarious. Mostly Crest toothpaste and Kroger sale prices. You can check out my summer reading sign up if you want to explore and get a feel for it.

Thanks to our volunteer agents for the awesome answers. If you have a question about anything teen services related ask it here! Your question will be featured on the blog with answers from our agent volunteers or TSU team members. If you’d liked to be a volunteer agent, please submit your info here.

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