Workshops may pique teens interest in a new subject or build on the momentum of groups/clubs or a special one-off event. Teens are often drawn to workshops because workshops teach desirable new skills in a focused but fun environment.
Although you may base a workshop around just about anything teachable skill, I’ve provided a handful of ideas to get you started, many of which overlap with previous suggestions for teen groups and events (so take a look at previous posts about clubs/groups and special events!). If you have any suggestions, contact me email@example.com (or tweet @yalibraryuk) and I’ll post your idea (and credit you for it, of course).
Art workshops may focus on comics, manga, or fine art drawing. On-staff artists or art students from your local university may be eager to teach art courses. Professional artists are also happy to lead workshops for a fee. The best way to contact manga or comics artists is through publishers such as Self Made Hero (manga) or 2000 AD (comics). Publishers outside of the United Kingdom (such as Viz, Dark Horse, Top Shelf, and many others) usually publish at least a few UK-based artists/writers, so they are also worth contacting. Joe, the fellow who publishes Forbidden Planet’s blog, is friendly and often willing to share his wealth of information with anyone interested in hosting comics or manga events. (An aside: large publishers such as DC or Marvel may take quite a long time to respond to requests due to a high volume of queries, so if you’re interested in booking an artist through them it’s important to contact them well in advance of the workshop.)
Art workshops have been tested at Headspace Efford, where teens created a fantastic group-produced manga. Artist Nana Li gave two very popular drawing workshops at Southend Library, which one of the attendees took video of and blogged about (with permission, of course). London Underground Comics also gave a workshop about self-publishing comics at Southend Library. Again, the event was very popular.
Many teens–including teens for whom reading is anathema!–write. Some of them simply want to develop their skill or share their work with peers, while others dream of being published writers.
Writing is perhaps the most versatile of all workshops because it can be led either by a visiting author, a vetted volunteer, or an experienced member of staff. Moreover, the type of writing can vary widely: from poetry to autobiography, from short stories to novels. If a member of staff or volunteer is running a workshop, they may find suggestions in previous posts about library events.
If you would like an author to lead a workshop at your library, I recommend contacting publishers directly (they usually have a list of authors interested in engaging with library events). Alternately you may get in touch with The Reading Agency, which has many author contacts.
Crafts, Fashion, Costume and Cosplay Workshops
Crafts workshops may be based on almost any craft, from origami folding to zine publishing to jewellery-making. I will be posting a long list of craft websites later this week, but for now please take a look at Teen Librarian’s suggestions, See YA Around’s ideas, and craftzine.com’s archive of DIY craft instructions.
Fashion events encourage new teens to attend library events and may also serve as a crafty (no pun intended) method of encouraging young people to examine your collection of art and fashion books in greater detail. For more ideas, see YALSA’s blog post on fashion workshops and events for teens.
Costume-making or Cosplay workshops may also be led by staff or professionals, depending on staff knowledge, interest, and time. (Cosplay is dressing up and role-playing based on characters and from manga and anime.) Costumes may be tailored to time of year (for example, you could run a Halloween costume workshop). The best contact for Cosplay workshops are the professionals who run the Cosplay Ball. TokyoPop may also help you find someone interested in running a Cosplay workshop.