Monday, March 25, 2013

Library After Dark: Lock-Ins 101

Lock-Ins are extremely popular with younger teens (6th-8th graders) who love the idea of being in the library when it is closed to the public.  This program is guaranteed to boost your numbers and draw attention from the community when marketed correctly.  However, the thought of entertaining a group of teens locked into the same space for hours can be a daunting.  Make no mistake, Lock-Ins are not for the faint of heart but, when properly planned, are an awesome program that your teens will beg for over and over.

  • 10 to 15 you can run activities one at a time
  • 15-30 you will need multiple stations for activities that can happen at the same time
  • 30-50 need multiple stations and plan for some activities to run in multiple “flights” 
Staff-to-Teen Ratios
  • 10 to 15 teens = at least 2 staff
  • 15 to 30 teens = at least 4 staff
  • 30 to 50 teens = at least 7 staff 
Lock-Ins can run for any designation of time - 4hrs, 8hrs, 10hrs - it's completely up to you, but will depend on number of staff and/or volunteers you have available.

To Keep in Mind When Choosing a Date:
  • Are others available to help?
  • Is the branch open the next day? If so, what time does it open?
  • Are teens available that weekend? (Especially important if planned during the school year - look at major sports games, homecoming, prom dates etc.)
  • If hosting an overnight lock-in you will need to let your Facilities department know & get permission for an after hours event. You also need to make sure they remember to keep the A/C or heater on.
  1. Signed Permission Form to register and/or participate in after-hours program. (I recommend that you have the Legal Department review form for insurance/liability purposes.)
  2. Teens must sign a Teen Agreement before participating.
  3. Teens must be between 12-18 years old and a current student in grades 6-12.
  4. Teens agree to stay for duration of lock-in. (If you have teens leaving at all hours, it becomes very difficult to keep track everybody's location.)
  5. No outside food or drink allowed (unless for religious/medical reasons).
  6. Parents should inform staff if a teen has any medications/dietary restrictions/allergies.
  7. Have Photo Release on file (unless parent/guardian will not sign) so that photos can be used for promotional purposes at a later date.
  8. Parents must sign their teens IN and OUT! This is a good way for you to have the chance to physically remind them about pick-up time. You also can determine that the adult leaving with a teen is approved by the teen's parents.
Teens munch for most of the night, so I recommend having a table set up and stocked with snacks and drinks for the duration of the event.
  • Pizza for dinner (all night lock-in)
  • Chips
  • Fruit
  • Cookies
  • Water, Lemonade, Sports Drinks (I tend to avoid soda since the teens are hyper without caffeine.)
  • Donuts or Breakfast Tacos & Juice (for breakfast)
If you want a Lock-In to run smoothly you need to plan a wide variety of programs to keep your teen occupied.  When teens get bored, mischief and bad behavior ensue.
  • Movie Room 
    • You should have a Movie Room with films playing all night
    • This can also be the room where teen can sleep if they want (don’t expect many to sleep).
    • Teens can leave their things in this room while doing other things
    • Lights should be dim but not completely turned off
    • An adult should be stationed in this room at all times
  • Relay Races 
    • These are a good way to burn off some energy, promote interaction and break down any cliques that may exist when the Lock-In starts
    • Relay Ideas
      • Clothes Horse
      • Pea and a Straw
      • Beach Ball Between the Knees
      • Bunny Hop
      • Mummy Wrap
  • Other Energy Burning Activities
    • Red Light/Green Light, Freeze Tag, Simon Says
    • Ultimate Twister (add knees and elbows to the spin card)
    • Ninja
    • Giant Jenga
  • Video Arcade
    • Variety is the key but also have a few staples
    • While other games were played for a shorter times, Guitar Hero was an all-night event
  • Craft Station
    • Decorate a Pillowcase
    • Sew a Dream Pillow
    • Make a Journal
    • Altered Books
    • Jewelry/Beads
    • Design the Perfect Teen Space
  • Mini Golf
    • Need: putt putt clubs, golf balls
    • Create course using library materials i.e. books, furniture, craft supplies
    • Person with highest score gets prize
  • Board Games
    • Midnight Monopoly Tournament
    • Giant Sequence
  • Ghost Walk/Haunted House
    • Take the teens through the library telling them spooky stories about the building.  If you don’t have any real, make it up.
    • Supplies 
      • Glow Sticks for teens (lights should be off)
      • Small flashlight for leader 
    • Have volunteers (staff & older teens) work on creating a haunted house in a designated space.  I use the second floor of my library which the teens are restricted from accessing during the Lock-In.  If you don't have a second floor try to find another space that is separate from the rest of the Lock-In.
    • If you have a large number of teens you will need to do more than one Ghost Walk
  • YA Lit. Trivia 
    • Create a Trivia Game using YA Lit as the base for the questions
    • How Well Do Your Teens Know: Twilight, Percy Jackson, Gallagher Girls, Cirque du Freak etc. Prizes for winners.
Questions?  Feel free to leave them in the comment section and I'll respond as soon as possible.

Further Reading: Teen Librarian Toolbox has also done a couple posts on library Lock-Ins