22 March 2015

Teen Summer Reading Club

Every year, my colleague Anarda and I struggle with the theme and artwork for our teen summer reading program at the library. The kids' programs are easy--hire a magician, a clown, a puppeteer, put their pictures on the flyer, and 200 kids (and their parents) show up. It's different when it comes to teens. You have to find something that's cool without being niche, or you have to take something that's not cool and make it cool somehow. And doing this as two women in our 50s? Yeah, it's a challenge. Some years, the themes provided by the state library or the American Library Association are good. But usually we think they're lame, and go our own way. Last year we did science fiction (Set Forth! New Worlds Await You…), which was a flexible and inclusive theme, and got pretty good results. But we shot ourselves in the foot (feet?) because this year's provided theme is superheroes, and we already included them as part of our sci fi extravaganza last year, so we were stuck--we had to come up with something on our own. So, we did what young adult librarians are supposed to do--we asked the teens.

We did a focus group and ran some ideas by teens of various ages. They seemed to like our ideas (in a rather tepid manner), but then I said the magic words: "It would be kind of like a meetup." Apparently, in teen world, meetups are cool, meetups are sophisticated, meetups are now where it's at. It's all about the lingo. So we promptly adopted this thinking and made our theme "Teen Meetup in the Burb." (We work for the Burbank Public Library.)

Wanting to stick with a casual, spontaneous feel, like actual meetups, I decided that I would draw the illustrations to go on the flyers. We are going to have a weekly "Book Cafe," at which the kids bring the books they're reading, book-talk them, have coffeehouse-type refreshments, and hang out; we're doing a makerspace meetup, meetups for movies, two writing workshops, a meetup in the park with a band, a sketch crawl meetup…and as our finale, Open Mic Night and Karaoke.

So of course the minute I decided to illustrate all of these activities, I froze and couldn't think of any ideas, and when I did, I couldn't execute them the way I wanted them. I was pretty happy with my movie marquee, but Anarda says my cafe chairs are too girly (and I noticed that the perspective on the left-hand chair is pretty wonky), and the sketch I did today (the mug with the books) was overworked into a completely different style, with little spontaneous pen detail showing.

Sigh. I think I might have to take a day off work and just power through a bunch more of these until I get it right. Or maybe two days…?