The Lock-in

Last Friday was our semi-annual Lock-in program for teens here at the Tinley Park Public Library.  We get a lot of questions about the Lock-in from teens, parents, and even other staff members.  When is it?  Who is it for? What do you do? Do you sleep? How do you stay up the whole night?

In this post I hope to answer these and other frequently asked questions.

Our official group picture for the night.

The Lock-in is open to all teens between 6th and 12th grade who are regular members of our Youth Advisory Council (more commonly known as YAC).  YAC members and librarians alike look forward to these semi-annual events, which begin on a Friday evening at 8:30 pm and end the following day at 6:30 am.  We have one in the summer and one in the winter.

In the winter time, the sun has long since set by 8:30 as everyone arrives in a flurry of snowy boots, winter coats, and faces flushed from cold and excitement.  Those who will be staying the whole night often arrive with blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows, which they stow away in their designated sleeping quarters.  However, many of these items will remain unused.  There’s something very thrilling about this time of night, watching the rest of the library slowly wind down for the day as our night is only beginning.  The closing announcements begin, the computers shut off, and last-minute patrons check out their books and movies before heading out.

For the first half hour, everyone gathers in the Young Adult program room in The Loft, eating snacks and chatting.  This is the first Lock-in for many of the younger teens, while some of our seasoned YAC members are on their 10th or 11th.  Each Lock-in has a different theme, voted on by the teens prior to the event, and this winter they selected “Musical Dinosaurs.”

In honor of the theme, a large inflatable dinosaur is in attendance, quickly becoming a popular guest.

At 9:00, everyone quiets down for a moment to go over the night’s rules and agenda.  At this point, the rest of the library has completely emptied out with nothing but the possibilities of tonight’s events ahead of us.  New activities start every hour or half hour, and the time goes by very quickly!  So how do we stay up the whole night?  Quite easily, really.  Those 10 hours zip by before you even realize that you’re tired!

We start off  the night with relay races in the meeting room.  Splitting into teams, everyone participates in a series of relay races, each one wackier than the last.

Here, teens shave balloon faces with popsicle sticks.

Teens wrap themselves in quilts and roll as quickly as possible across the room.

Everyone Picks  tiny objects out of cotton balls with chopsticks.

After relay races, the whole group engages in a game of This or That.  In the game, everyone starts out on different sides of the meeting room.  Then, one of the librarians reads a series of “Would You Rather” questions, with each side of the room representing a different option.  Everyone walks back and forth across the room, depending on their preferences.  For instance, would you rather be stuck in an avalanche or a forest fire?   Would you rather have super speed or invisibility?  Would you rather be an outlaw in the Old West or a 1920s gangster?

Afterwards, we return to the Young Adult program room to play a game of Celebrity.  In this game, everyone writes down the name of a celebrity and places it in a bucket.  In groups, everyone attempts to guess the celebrity based on a series of clues given by one of their teammates.  As the rounds progress, the game gets more difficult as eventually everyone must guess the celebrity based only on one-word clues and later no-word clues.

Midnight already, and it’s time for the younger YAC members to (reluctantly!) go home.  The teens who are between 8th and 12th grade still have six hours of activities left, starting with a half hour of funny and interesting YouTube videos in the Meeting Room.  Then we all head up to the Youth Services activity room for a craft project.

The teens decorate tote bags using fabric markers and dinosaur stencils.

They also create scratch-off rainbow wands.

At around 1:00 am, everyone heads back to The Loft for more snacks, pop, and Lateral Thinking Puzzles.  In this activity, one of the librarians reads off a scenario or a mystery with missing information.  The teens must then ask a series of Yes/No questions in order to figure out what happened.   There are websites devoted to these types of puzzles, as well as a long-running  book series written by Paul Sloane and Des MacHale.

As a group, everyone tries to figure out the puzzles.  Would you have enough brain power left to do this at 1:00 am?Our teens certainly did!

The night is still young as we continue the Lock-in with a Scavenger Hunt with the theme of “Let’s Put on a Musical!”  Splitting into two teams, everyone receives a set of directions, all having to do with the elements of putting on a musical, such as picking costumes, deciding on a plot, preparing a musical number, creating a poster for advertisement, and learning how to dance.

The teens pick out costumes for their musicals.

After the scavenger hunt, we all return to the meeting room for a Sing  Along!  One of the librarians plays the piano as everyone sings along to popular songs from various movies and musicals.

The teens sing along to show tunes while a dinosaur plays the piano.

The event begins to wind down when free time begins.  This is everyone’s opportunity to play board games, chat, and just hang out (or sleep, but no one seems to be that tired!).   At around five o’clock everyone eats donuts and bagels for breakfast.  When we all leave around 6:30 am, the sun is just beginning to peek over the horizon.  The library will open in just 2 1/2 more hours.

Another Lock-in complete, and it all went by so fast!  We already can’t wait until the next one in the summer!

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I really appreciate the dedicated librarians that go above and beyond the call of duty to afford the kids this really fun activity. My son participated last year and again this year. I enjoyed watching my sleep deprived 13 year old try to go about his Saturday as if his Friday night was ordinary. I took a series of pictures of him falling asleep in the midst of various weekend activities: sleep holding his 3ds, sleep (watching) The Hobbit; sleep in front of the fireplace (watching) Pair of Kings reruns. Ah, he provided the whole family with amusement that you just can't buy. His little brother documented the day by taking pictures of his older brother displaying various household objects on his head...priceless. I owe all of the great TP Youth Librarians hugs and appreciation and Starbucks gift cards are not out of the question.

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