All About Teen Lock-ins

Teen lock-ins have the ability to bring teens into your library in an open and inviting way. It gives them the opportunity to run through the stacks, take off their shoes, and spend time with their friends. Doing a teen lock-in may seem like a daunting task, and at times it might be, but the payoff is well worth it. Libraries across the state are holding teen lock-ins and they have some advice for others looking to do the same.

Some Ideas:

Activities during your teen lock-ins can and should vary, they should also be constant. They don’t have to all to be high energy, but you don’t want teens wandering the library without something to do. One suggestion was to have multiple activities running at once, some that are quieter, like button making or other crafts and others that are high energy, like dancing. Having multiple activities also helps the teens move onto something else if they get bored. The Fayetteville Library suggests having some things scheduled, like 3D printing training or escape rooms and others that are ongoing like access to board games or crafts.

The Morristown and Morris Township Library hosts a series of four Harry Potter themed lock-ins. The first day in the series is their Yule Ball and the following events were all Tri-Wizard Tournament tasks. The Albert Wisner Public Library also hosts a Harry Potter themed lock-in event where students are sorted into groups and attend Hogwarts themed classes: potions (chemistry), Herbology (identifying herbs by scent), care of magical creatures (live animal show), muggle studies (book discussion), History of Magic (trivia contest), and Defense Against the Dark Arts (an escape room). Not all lock-ins have to incredibly elaborate. The Albany Public Library and Albany High School Library teamed up to give teens a safe and monitored place to hang out. They gathered 80 students to play video games and watch Spiderman Homecoming.

A lot of libraries have done a scavenger hunt through the stacks or teen trivia and then do a “cool down” before its time for bed with a movie, if your teens are staying the night. The activity options are endless and best decided once you know what your teens are interested in.

Some Advice:

Back up Activities
Some activities will end earlier than expected or not go as planned so it is important to have some quick back up activities that you can put together. Have board games laying out and a quick craft you can quickly set-up.

You want to make sure you have the proper amount of staff, so you don’t have to be running around all night. Some librarians suggest asking for parent volunteers if you can’t get enough library staff. Some libraries even had older teen volunteers.

“However much food you bought for this event, double it” is the advice from the Hampton Bays library. Pizza is always a go to, but it can be just a variety of snacks, especially if your teens aren’t staying over. Make sure you are aware of all food allergies to ensure you have safe snacks for everyone.

Getting Permission Slips
Get permission slips from parents/guardians and triple check that they know when to come and pick up their teen.

Being Flexible
Both with your scheduling and the teens themselves. Allow them to break some rules; Fayetteville Free Library allows their teens to go shoeless on their teen lock-in nights!

Ask for Help
Your best resource is your peers! Seek out other librarians who have completed a teen lock-in and find out how they did it. Get programming ideeas, the low down on how much food you'll need, and the best way to stay awake.