We are always excited to hear about Screen-Free Week events hosted by public libraries. Not only do libraries encourage reading, but they also serve as important gathering spaces for all members of the community. So when we heard about how Tiffin-Seneca Public Library in Tiffin, Ohio, had organized a successful Screen-Free Week 2018 celebration, we had to ask them how they did it.
Many thanks to Becky Oswalt for sharing Tiffin-Seneca’s Screen-Free Week story with us, and a big thank you to librarians Trinity Lescallett, Lori Hodkinson and Connie Cole for organizing Tiffin-Seneca Library’s Screen-Free Week last year.
Tiffin-Seneca Public Library decided to celebrate Screen-Free Week in 2018 because we understand the harmful effects of excessive screen time on people of all ages. Helping families become more intentional at putting down their devices and inspiring them to think of ideas for screen-free fun all year long seemed like a win-win situation. So, in March 2018 we formed a small committee of staff members to help plan a full slate of activities for Screen-Free Week.
Offering a daily activity or event during Screen-Free Week seemed like a good way to help families meet their pledge to go free of screen entertainment for the week, with the added bonus of bringing together families who were all trying to accomplish the same goal. We decided to host an informational session the first night of the week to educate adults and school-age kids on the effects of excessive screens. The program, Digital Detox: Family Edition, used slides, research, statistics, and helpful tips. The program acknowledged the negative psychological, social, and cultural impact of spending more than half of our waking lives in front of a screen, and offered ways to make it easier to put down the screen. It was also an opportunity to encourage attendees to consider making a screen-free pledge of some kind for the week.
Here’s what else we scheduled:
- On Tuesday night, the library set out board games all over the library for families to enjoy on their own time.
- Crafts and coloring projects for all ages were available around the library on Wednesday evening.
- We put on an “Are You Smarter than a Librarian?” trivia contest, pitting families against our librarians on Thursday.
- On Friday and Saturday, we stuck with two of our regularly scheduled programs to highlight some of the fun screen-free activities that we offer year-round. Playtime @ the Library is a monthly program for children ages 18 months to five years old. This two-hour drop-in program features a large selection of toys and activities that encourage unstructured, creative play. Our monthly Lego Saturday program invites children and families of all ages to stop by and build their own Lego creations with friends. We provide Duplo Blocks and Legos, and we also provide a different theme every month.
- All week long we offered a StoryWalk® where participants walked around the library, reading a story as they progressed. The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg Hubbard Library. Also, different craft projects were set out on the tables in the Junior Department and rotated daily.
- During the week, the library displayed relevant books for parents such as Unplug Your Kids: A Guide to Raising Happy, Active, and Well-Adjusted Children in the Digital Age by David Dutwin, and picture books for kids such as Hello! Hello!by Matthew Cordell. We printed up a list of screen-free activities and a book list filled with more screen-free ideas.
By far the most fun activity to plan was the “Are You Smarter than a Librarian?” trivia contest. We made our own PowerPoint with five different rounds of five questions and a bonus round question. When the game ended, teams that had more points than the librarians won a small prize, but more importantly, they could now brag that they’re “smarter than a librarian!” Categories included “Songs from Movies,” where we would play a short music clip for players to guess which movie it came from. Another round was “Fun with Words,” and the bonus round consisted of pictures of 25 book characters, where teams had to identify as many as possible before time ran out.
We realized that because our library has a special place in the lives of local families, we could bring families closer together by offering fun, meaningful activities that don’t involve technology. If we encouraged just one family to put down the screens and engage in some fun family time, then we consider Screen-Free Week 2018 to be a success!