Tweens (10-12)



Elf on the Bookshelf

You've heard of Elf on the Shelf. I've found that the elf is the best low-cost passive program to engage patrons through pandemic times and advocate for our library. My library elf, Tinsel, promotes programming, library services and reading.

The inspiration came from how teachers utilize their elf for classroom management around the hyperactive holiday season. Libraries can use an elf to promote library events and excite patrons with the silly hijinks that the elves get into.

Advanced Planning

Last year, I stuck to posting Tinsel primarily on social media. I scheduled out all of his poses on a calendar and labeled each pose with a caption idea or theme to help organize and alleviate the stress of doing a whole month of posts.

This year, since our school is meeting virtually, I have added Tinsel to our daily slideshow presentation in class to show the students what he is up to at the library while the kids are away. He shows them that they can still access library resources from home.


This program is the perfect way to showcase what services the library has to offer. This program in itself is a great marketing tool.


Elves can be bought new or used. While it can be pricey to buy Elf on the Shelf brand new, you can find them used online. Other than the cost of the elf, this program is free to do! You will just need a smartphone to take the photos.

Day-of-event Activity

Last year, our first post was a photo of Tinsel receiving his own library card. The post reminded people what is required to get a card and inspires new people to get a card.

To finish off strong, the last post was Tinsel strapped to a clock to remind people that there is still time to check out before the library closes for the holidays. Tinsel stayed strapped to the clock for the day, since he was behind the circulation desk.

This year, Tinsel was first introduced to students in a slideshow for our online learning class.

Program Execution

The best part about this program is how it is low-contact and can still engage those patrons that are at home. It encourages them to still interact with their library from a distance. 

Many of the pictures I did were from my own creations, such as having Tinsel tied up with genre stickers! That is the best part about this program, there is as much creativity as the librarian will allow.


If you post your elf pictures on social media, ask any partnering social media accounts to share your posts to further your reach.

Research fun poses on Pinterest or get creative and make up your own. You can also leave your elf in a safe place in your library for patrons to see in-person.

You will find yourself creating a backstory for your elf as children ask thought-provoking questions!

Supporting Materials

Slideshow Images