Igniting the Spark: Library Programs That Inspire High School Patrons

Igniting the Spark: Library Programs That Inspire High School Patrons

Igniting the Spark: Library Programs That Inspire High School Patrons

Igniting the Spark: Library Programs That Inspire High School Patrons


This latest collaboration in the Library Programs that Inspire series explores library media center events that target the high school age audience. Detailing particular methods to inspire high school students to appreciate and use the library media center, this guide provides compelling evidence of the potential for young adult programming as an effective teaching tool.

This practical guide provides everything you need to plan, execute, and evaluate events that will get the attention of even your least motivated high school students. Emphasizing the benefits of effective programs, the authors offer creative techniques to enhance the curriculum, improve school library media center use, broaden student interest, and inspire lifelong learning. Programming foundations and examples from across the nation, as well as practical advice and helpful resources, provide the necessary inspiration to help you team up with educators, parents, and student volunteers to create unique, effective, and memorable events that will motivate your teenagers to fully take advantage of all that the school library offers.


On an ordinary work day several years ago, I changed my vision of what my school library media center should be. During first period, I began helping a class choose fiction for book reports. the reading teacher had only one selection criterion: the book had to contain at least 100 pages. To my frustration, it was the only criterion that the students used as well.

“What do you like?” I asked. “Adventure? Love stories? Horror?”

“Mr. Leslie, I hate to read, so I don’t care,” nearly every student replied. “Just make it 100 pages.”

I had witnessed this lack of interest evolve over many years and had even inadvertently contributed to what was becoming an epidemic problem. To meet student needs, I perused catalogs and reference materials such as Joni Richards Bodart’s The World’s Best Thin Books to order easy reading, high interest titles. Books by Avi, Jay Bennett, and Gary Paulsen, all excellent writers for middle school students, were squeezing out authors like Alice Walker and Walter Dean Myers, not to mention the greats whose classics now served only as dust mite headquarters worthy of a science experiment.

When I was an English teacher, I had successfully introduced seniors to Chekov, Kafka, even Joyce. As a school library media specialist trying to meet the needs of all grade levels, I watched my educational ideals fade under a desperate attempt to pull students into the library media center however I could. When studying my periodical circulation records that fateful day, I grew heartsick. Ninety percent of all magazine requests were for Low Rider and wwf, titles I initially refused to add to my collection.

Although these magazines may be both entertaining and useful in some contexts, the power they had wielded in my high school library media center embarrassed me. Instead of broadening the scope of my resources, I had merely lowered my expectations of what students could handle or even cared to attempt. It was a destructive cycle that I was determined to stop.

Originally, I had no greater vision for changing my professional focus than to make my facility more meaningful to patrons. But when Patricia Potter Wilson and I agreed to write a series of books on library programming, I realized that my own experience was the springboard for this second installment of the series.

The first work, Premiere Events: Library Programs that Inspire Elementary School Patrons . . .

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