Published on January 5th, 2015 | by Calliope Woods


Getting (and keeping) teens in your Anime Club

You spent three weeks picking the perfect show, hung up flyers, bought pocky with your own money, and made sure it was in the calendar. All the regular teens that you see on the computers should know that there’s now an anime club at their local library. The big day comes, you’re ready for showtime…but it seems none of the teens got the memo, and you’re left with an empty room. Are there just no geeky kids at your library?

Well, probably not. It is a library, after all.

Guess you’ll have to eat it all yourself.


Teenagers not showing up for events is a very familiar problem to most librarians who work with them. When I was first promoted to Teen Library Assistant for my branch I was told point blank at my training: expect no one to show up. This was a daunting thing to hear when I knew that my performance was partially judged by how many teens participated in my programming. On top of job success, the empty room can hurt you on a personal level when you care a great deal about the topic of your event and are hoping to attract the kind of geeky kids that you remember hanging out with when you were a teen.

Here’s a couple things that can help you out when you’re faced with an unattended event, or are looking to boost your numbers:


Stop thinking of teens as alien from yourself

I’m guilty of calling my club members “kids” all the time, or referring to them as “my teens.” When I interact with them, however, I treat them with the same respect I would an adult, and when I’m planning an event, I always take the time to put myself in their shoes. Going off of that, you should always…


Ask yourself what you’re excited about

What factors tend to make me attend events now? Well, two things: having a passion for the subject of the event and knowing someone who’s going.

I know that as a teen I would never have considered going to something called “teen club.” Just by being more specific and labeling it an “anime club,” you’re more likely to get teens that care to show up.

The second part is a little harder. You have to have some snow to get a snowball rolling. So how do you find these initial teens?


It helps to have some image editing experience.

Market directly to your audience

One of my favorite ideas for event marketing is targeted bookmark placement. Go through the holds at your library and stick a bookmark advertising your anime club in all the manga and anime holds in the weeks leading up to your first meeting or before a larger event that the club is having. If that’s not possible due to time constraints or privacy policies, talk to your library staff and ask them if they can help you promote to teens checking out manga and anime. Keep a stack of flyers or a sign at the desk so they can easily explain or pass off a piece of information; your staff is much more likely to help out if you don’t inconvenience them with it. I also make sure my anime club signs are near the manga and anime, and within sight of my…


Passive programming

There is always an activity to do in my teen section, usually a craft. I used to change these out weekly, but with staff constraints I’ve switched to monthly. A little of my time at the beginning of each shift is spent checking this area, cleaning up any messes and restocking any supplies. Don’t take messes or destruction of your examples personally. Children are often very attracted to crafts, and this month my tiny winter village houses have been stolen/destroyed several times over by either fascinated children or teens who didn’t feel they had the skill to make one. It’s all worth it when you start to notice little creations left behind or get asked for help with the activity. Of course, it’s important to…


Make yourself approachable         

Nothing is better than a personal relationship with teens to get them to come to your programs, and that is built slowly and steadily. If a teen wants to talk to you, do everything you can to make time for that! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had teens sitting at my desk working on crafts or having conversations with me while I took general quick patron questions as they approached. Finally…

He’s really not that scary.


Don’t let your theme rule your program

What? Do something completely unrelated to anime in your anime club?

Well, that vine compilation is pretty funny. And sometimes it’s nice to take a break and dance to a Miley Cyrus song. And a Smash Bros. game tournament is a nice way to break up the monotony and show off your mad gaming skills to the teens.

I’m not saying you should completely throw anime out the window, but be flexible. You’re not here to force teenagers to appreciate classics like Cowboy Bebop, or to educate them on why Naruto isn’t really the best anime ever. You’re here to give them a place that’s safe, their own, and fun. So if they ask for some youtube videos, give them some youtube videos.

And if they really want a Naruto day, sometimes it’s okay to give in and suffer through it for them.

About the Author

Calliope Woods works with teens at an urban Kentucky library by day, and writes by night. An avid fan of podcasts, anime, horror and more, she can be contacted at, or through her many social media accounts including Tumblr, Pinterest, and others.

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