Thursday, November 7, 2013

Black Light Party for Teens [Library Programming]

I can't express how grateful I am to the numerous librarians out there who blog about books and programs that they host. The wealth of information in the blogosphere for all types of librarians is incredible. I've been in my position as a youth services coordinator for three years now, and there are so many bloggers who have inspired me to try new things!

While I don't discuss much about my job, I have wanted to contribute something to the Internet to help out others. I've had programs that rocked and others that have been major fails. I've learned to not take the failures to heart because you have to try new things all the time. If it doesn't work, so what? You learn what you can from the failures and just move on. 

A colleague of mine had hosted a black light party for teenagers at her library, and she recommended that I give it a shot at my library. Getting teenagers into the library is like herding cats (at least, it feels like that to me sometimes). I love teenagers because they are passionate about whatever they set their minds to. I loved the library when I was a teen, but I never participated in any teen-focused events that were hosted. So when I was first hired for my job, I was terrified of working with teenagers. 

How in the world can I interact with this age group and provide good programming for them?

Three years in, I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on what teens in my community are looking for and what will bring them into the library. I'm so happy I took the recommendation of my colleague and host a black light party... it was a smashing success!

Neon paint art!

If you're looking to host a black light party for teenagers, here are the absolute essential materials you need:
  • Black light bulbs - I used nine bulbs plus a large black light a teen brought with her. Use what you need for the space you have, but you'll want good coverage. (And don't forget lamps, of course.)
  • Something to block out light if the room you're using has windows - We used black trash bags and they worked perfectly.
  • Neon paint - Don't buy glow-in-the-dark stuff. It just doesn't translate as well as neon paint does. I provided T-shirt paint and regular paint for whatever creative endeavors the teens embarked on.
  • Glow sticks and bracelets - These just add a fun element to the party.
  • Tonic water - If you're providing refreshments, tonic water glows under black light. I had plain tonic water and lemonade made with tonic water available. The teens thought it was really cool.
Twister under the black lights.
The party in full swing!
At our party, I provided arts and crafts, coloring pages (teens LOVED them!) with neon markers, the paints, snacks, and the game Twister. Most of the teens came wearing neon colors, which looked awesome under the lights. We decorated the room with neon balloons and neon paper crafts. I spent about $60 for the entire party (materials and snacks). We had 13 attendees, which is a really great number for my library. The teens I talked to afterwards said they had a great time and would want to do it again. That right there is what I consider success!

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