Teen Lock-In

With summer quickly approaching, you may still be deciding; to Lock-In or not to Lock-In?  Permission slips! Over night or just after hours? How many teens are coming? How am I going to keep them occupied the entire time? How much pizza do we need to order? AHHHH!!!


Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.


To overnight or not to overnight? Every library is different, so of course, find out what works best for you. I’ve done both the full over nights (9pm to 6am) and the afterhours (6pm to 11pm) and both have their pros and cons. If your administration is hesitant, having a strictly after hours program instead of all night could be more beneficial. Starting out with an after hours event and seeing how it runs before you dive into the deep end is always a nice option, too!  No matter what you decide, your teens are going to have a blast because who hasn’t dreamed of being locked inside the library after hours?



Permission slips! You’re going to need permission slips. We require teens to have their permission slip handed in before the event and the slip acts as their registration. Last year we allowed 50 teens in and forewarning, you’re going to have someone try to get in last minute. Up to you how you want to handle that, but we didn’t allow it. When creating your permission slip, you may want to talk to your director about specific wording for waiving the library of anything that could happen. Google is also a great helper with this. Just searching “Lock-In permission slip” will get you tons of examples you can pull from.

permission slippermission slip 2

How am I going to keep the occupied the entire time?! First, set up some rules. For example, I like to keep it short and sweet: Respect, Pick up, and Stay Inside. Respect the library, yourself, and others at the event. Pick up after yourself- this goes for trash or anything you’ve used during the night. Stay inside the library at all times. If you’re caught leaving the library, your parent/guardian will be asked to come pick you up. We also do three strikes and you’re out. If a staff member has to talk to a teen about not following the rules more than three times, parents are called and the teen must be picked up. Luckily enough (knock on wood) in the 6 years of running a lock-in events, I’ve never had to do this.


How am I going to keep them occupied?! What I’ve found that really works well is having a schedule of events that lets teens know what is happening but also gives them choices on what they can do. This is roughly what the overnight schedule looks like:

9:00pm- Check in, Staff Introductions, and Rules
9:30pm- Pizza!

10:00pm- Open Play (Game Room, Craft Room, Movie Room, or Read!)

12:00am- Group Games

2:00am- Minute to Win It- Everyone Plays!

4:00am- Ice Cream Sundaes

5:00am- Clean up and gather your things

6:00am- Go home and sleep!


Our game room had our board games and video games out. We even did a Minecraft in house server  one year which was a huge hit. The movie room had movies continuously playing all night long . Crafting was always super popular. I’ve done duct tape crafts, book repurposing, coloring, and knitting, DIY stuffed animals, and more.



How much pizza do I need to order? How much pizza can a 14 year old eat? Error on the side of caution and see if a local place will donate or give you a discount!


Things I’ve learned over the years:
*Prepare as much as you can but don’t stress too much if you missed something.
*Make sure you have staff/volunteers that are going to want to be with crazy teens all night long.
*Know your library in and out.

*Have fun and relax. Your teens are going to have a blast and so are you!


BTW, have you checked out The National Lock-In? It’s a great way to collaborate with other libraries and librarians for your lock-in event! Plus, they help out with craft ideas, gaming ideas, scavenger hunts, Minute to Win It, and even get YA authors to do Skype visits all for free! I highly recommend at least checking it out and/or reading our blog post all about it!



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