Subscribe to SLJ
Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Get your TEENS to advocate for you with the Why I Need My Library Video Contest

The Why I Need My Library video contest, launched by American Library Association (ALA) President Roberta Stevens, offers teens ages 13-18 the opportunity to win up to $3,000 for their public or school library.

The contest seeks to engage young library advocates and asks them to create short, original videos on why they think libraries are needed now more than ever. Videos can be live-action, animation, machinima, or a combination of techniques. The deadline for entry is April 18.

Prizes are being given away in two age categories – ages 13 to 15 and 16 to 18:

Grand prize: One winning contestant or group of contestants in each age category will receive $3,000 for their selected library. In addition, each member of the winning group will receive a $50 gift card to an online bookseller.

Second place: Two second place finalists in each age category will receive $2,000 each for their selected library.

Third place: Three third place finalists in each age category will receive $1,000 each for their selected library.

For more information, guidelines on how to enter and tips and resources on making a video, visit or

I know what you are thinking: “I want that prize money and recognition! How do I get my teens to participate?”

Well, here are some helpful tips:

How Do You Get Your Teens to Participate in the Why  I Need My Library Video Contest?

Tip 1:  Promote, promote, promote!

Talk about it, print out the flyers for the contest, post messages on the Library’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc.

Tip 2:  Make it into a unique teen program

Host a workshop on how to use a Flipvideo camera.

Have a video-editing workshop for teens.

Tip 3:  Make the contest the focus of an after hours event

Have you been thinking about hosting an after hours program for teens?  Use the Why I Need My Library video contest as the focus for the event.

Tip 4:  Get the word out that your Library is Flash Mob Friendly

Work with young film-makers to have a library flash mob.

Tip 5:  Create a brief simple 30 second promo video about the contest

A promo video spreads the word out about the contest and the chance to win prize money plus provides dynamic content for the Library’s teen web page.

For full disclosure, I have to point out that I have been co-chairing this committee with Paula Brehm Heeger and she has been doing 99.9% of the work. What a dynamic leader! It is an honor to say I have “worked” with her and if you ever want to be on a committee that gets things done, you should choose Paula’s.