This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in October 2013.

Today we feature a super-cool, super-fun young adult program sent to us by Rachel Widerstrom, a librarian at the Auckland (NZ) Libraries’ New Lynn War Memorial Library branch. The Book Domino program was inspired by a challenge put to New Zealand librarians by education/programming consultant Matt Finch (you remember him, from the fantastic Zombies in the Library program!). Everyone at the New Lynn War Memorial Library took the idea and ran with it, from the library administrator to the young adults who made it all happen. Read on for details and lots of fun photos and video of the event. ~ Laura

by Rachel Widerstrom

New Lynn War Memorial Library in Auckland, New Zealand.

New Lynn War Memorial Library in Auckland, New Zealand.

I’m Children’s and Youth Librarian at New Lynn, with a background in the performing arts. When our teens started asking what they’d be doing for the school holidays, I thought the book domino challenge would be perfect. Our Learning Centre Coordinator Nathan Grange is a talented amateur filmmaker, so he took charge of recording the activity, while over about 6 sessions and 8 hours a dozen teens and staff members created an epic book domino running through our beautiful library.

This was a great opportunity to showcase the skills of both staff and library users, as well as developing relationships, trust, and respect with local teens.

The teenagers really enjoyed being a bit ‘special’ in the library – they were allowed in the workroom, lunchroom etc and in the library after hours, and I would give them my swipe card to allow them to move around and complete the set-up as needed. They learned library routines and would get the stored books from the lunchroom, and put them back after.

There was fun, laughter, silliness, and lots of great moments of books falling when they shouldn’t and having to be reset. We did one session without Nathan and the kids took even more control over the shot/how the books would be set-up.

My manager Mary was hugely supportive and said that she was keen to build relationships with our teen customers, draw out the hidden skills of our staff, and ‘put New Lynn Library on the map’. Our local high schools are not that geographically convenient to the library, so while we have good relationships with them we would love to see more students coming into the library. This adventure made a name for our branch with the schools and Auckland Libraries, got the teens sharing the video on social media, and generally helped people to notice that New Lynn Library exists and is awesome! It was a real breakthrough that the teens actually felt they were doing something in the library that was cool and fun, and valued by both the manager and the staff.

At the end of the session Matt Finch rewarded our efforts with a cake. We invited the hard-working teens into our staff room to share the prize with us.

bookdominoes5

This is only the beginning for us – we’re looking forward to taking these relationships further and really developing the teens’ own filmmaking skills next time, too.

Matt Finch, whose Book Domino challenge inspired this program, has more ideas and resources that librarians and other educators can use at his website, Books Adventures

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