What to do when you've planned a teen lock-in at your library

We're all prone to panic.  Sometimes there is worthy panic, and then there is unworthy panic.  I'm a P.I.: Panicked Introvert.  However, I've been consciously working on not panicking about things that Will Be Okay.  For example: the printer at work runs out of toner and we never got our order.  Don't panic!  There are other printers to use!  Actually, I realize that most of the panic generated in my office is office-supply driven.  So there's that.  Or another scenario: a little one didn't make it to the bathroom in time and there is pee on a chair.  Don't Panic!  This being the children's department, we have an arsenal of antibacterial wipes, cleansers, foams, and gels, and sprinkly bits at our disposal.  Plus, urine is generally sterile, so, Don't Panic!  In order to remind myself not to panic, I've added a Hitchhiker's Guide-inspired graphic to my email signature, thus reminding myself and others: "Don't Panic!"

I wanted to add, "And don't forget your towel," but many people I know are not geeky enough for that level of bookery.

Anyway, I am here to report that it is Okay to Panic when you are having a Teen Lock-In at your library, because this type of panic is good and healthy.  It means that you care about the kids who are coming, you care about your programming, and you care about the parents of the kids.  You want everything to go well, but you realize that this is teenagers plus life plus sugar (usually), so this is not an optimal situation.  I promise: once your worst fear is realized, the rest of the lock-in will be a piece of cake.

In my situation, I planned the lock-in to coincide with the National Teen Lock-In, thus absolving myself of the responsibility of contacting authors--the unbelievable capable coordinators of this event did that for everyone!  We had Spreecast chats planned with four amazing YA authors: Michelle Gagnon, Claudia Gray, Marissa Meyer (!!!!!!!!!), and Cecil Castellucci.  I also used their Minute to Win It activities and the Photo Scavenger Hunt themes.  I wheeled and dealed a local pizza joint (free cheesy bread! + 30% off) and trotted off to the store for chips and pop.  I made a permission slip and release form for the parents and set up internet signup.  Here is what I learned from this event:

Lesson 1: People will call the day of the lock-in with sob stories of varying degrees of believability in an attempt to get their teens into the event.  This will push you over capacity.  I let in a few extra people, and thankfully there were 8 no-shows.  I would cap the lock-in at 15 to 20 maximum next time.  27 was ridiculous.

Lesson 2:  People will just show up.  Because I had no-shows, I let the one girl in who didn't sign up, but this will happen.

Lesson 3:  Unless you have a higher ratio of boys to girls, you don't need as much pizza as you think you do.  Conversely, you will need a LOT more pop than you think you will (substitute "soda" or "coke" for "pop" here, depending on where you live).  One problem I had is that I am not a pop drinker.  I haven't been since I was a kid and it was giving me trouble sleeping.  The only pop I will drink is root beer, and generally that's in a root beer float.  So I had no idea how much pop I should buy and no idea how much pop American teens and tweens consume.  That number is A LOT.  Like I probably should have skipped the pizza, gone to Sam's Club, and bought a flat of Coke and Sprite and been done with it.  That being said, if you would like to avoid the sugar highs of 14 year olds jacked up on caffeine, skip the pop.  They will be cranky, though.

Lesson 4: There Will Be Blood.  This was my worst fear: someone would be injured.  Once it happened, I was surprisingly chill about the rest of the lock-in.  We were playing Sardines (one of my favorite games) and two kids were messing around and smacked right into each other.  I heard the impact, actually.  One guy was wearing glasses, which broke and cut his brow.  Since it was a head wound, it bled like the Black Knight's four missing limbs.

We busted out the biohazard kit, which was probably older than me and contained two yellowed latex gloves that were stiff and full of holes.  Very safe.  I usually feel faint and woozy at the sight of blood, but the adrenaline of the situation allowed me to use teeny-tiny (I mean like 1-inch square) alcohol wipes to clean up the boy's face.  He was more concerned about his glasses.  His mom was just happy that he was okay and didn't want emergency services notified.  She called me back later to report that it was, in fact, a very shallow cut in his eyebrow that she treated with antibiotic ointment.  He asked to return to the lock-in.  She wisely refused.  

So, be sure to have paperwork signed beforehand, as well as band-aids and alcohol (not that kind!) on hand, in order to prep for this.  Now I just have to tell the maintenence guys that the carpet that was just cleaned needs a spot treatment!

Lesson 5:  There will probably be a thunderstorm and at least one person will probably be afraid of thunder/lightning.

Lesson 6:  Somebody will have stolen your large speaker so you have to rip the speakers off of your own computer so the kids can hear the authors talk.

Lesson 7:  They will remove their shoes.  Someone will lose their shoes and there will be a frantic search for them.

Lesson 8:  Even though you have provided a schedule, they will not want to follow it at all, rather preferring to a) play video games, b) draw, c) read, and d) do those clapping games like "Miss Susie."  If you do not know Miss Susie, look it up.  If you do, sing it for the kids and impress them with your awesomeness.  The next time I do this I will have a quiet reading area for the kids who just want to chill, as well as some sort of art station, since they seemed to love drawing too.  

Lesson 9:  They will eat marshmallows used in Minute to Win It off of the floor.  A whole bag.

Lesson 10:  You will be so tired and stressed that you will take home the key that sets the automatic doors to automatic, thus prompting a frantic call from the library the next morning.  You will then drive to the library in your pajamas (thank goodness they look relatively like normal clothing!) in order to stop the violent mob from beating down the doors, only to find that they have manually opened the doors (which you knew they could do anyway, but in your sleepy haze forgot about).  Everyone will see you in your pajamas.

Lesson 11: You will, at many points during the night, say "Never again!" when what you really mean is, "Next time, I will do x, y, and z differently."

The panic is worth it when the teens ask you how old you have to be to be a librarian, and when they have scads of fun pretending to check people out at the computers because they realize that being a librarian is a freakishly cool job.  That's when you high-five yourself.


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