disco balls

For over a year, I have been stuck on the idea of a “Library Spirit Week” at the Burbank Public Library, similar in likeness to the spirit week that leads up to the Homecoming Football Game and Homecoming Dance at most American high schools–complete with a theme, events structured with the theme in mind, community gatherings, and celebration. Recently added to my future plans for Library Spirit Week is a Silent Disco, presented as the culminating event geared towards the teen population. The Silent Disco would be one of many events offered during the Burbank Library’s Spirit Week, all in line with the theme chosen for the particular year.

The Burbank Public Library is a three-branch library system that serves a city population of just over 100,000 people. In reviewing their community conversations from the fiscal year 2018-2019, it is clear the community is seeking “programs that bring people together, both inside and outside Library facilities” (Burbank Public Library, n.d.-a, p. 8). The Burbank Library currently offers a diverse range of programming for children, teens, and adults, with a majority of those programs created for younger learners in the children’s population. With the assistance of the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) and youth services staff members, the Burbank Library will host an annual Silent Disco to celebrate community and promote sociability, movement, creativity, and participation.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service: 
The primary goal for the Silent Disco for teens is to invite library users and non-users to participate in a unique community experience. The Silent Disco promotes health literacy through movement, participation, and engagement. Let’s Move in Libraries is an organization, inspired by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, working to increase physical activity, health literacy, and health equity in libraries. In the organization’s research, it has been shown that “the most consistently reported impact of these programs is new library users” (Lenstra, 2017, p. 214). Physical activity offerings in libraries bring people back to the Library to use the other services or attend other programs. Giving one of Burbank’s communities the option to participate in a free, movement-based activity may draw non-users into the library space and convert them into users.

Description of Community you wish to engage:
The community aimed to engage in this program are library users and non-users in the 12-18 age range. Teens at the Burbank Library, are underrepresented in library programming. Out of the 617 total programs hosted at the Burbank Library in 2018-2019, only 58 of them were for teens, which is less than 10% of all library programs (Burbank Public Library, 2019). From this statistic alone, it is apparent that young adults and teens are a neglected patron community with regard to programming. A Silent Disco is being proposed to engage this community because it provides low pressure social engagement. As participants are not required to speak with each other, they still maintain a common experience that creates social closeness.

Action Brief Statement:
For participants: I plan to convince teens that by participating in a silent disco they will build connections with their peers and have fun, which will bring them back to the library to participate in other events/services because of the newfound knowledge that the Library as much to offer beyond the physical collection.

For staff: I plan to convince staff that by providing the opportunity for teens to attend a silent disco, the Library is promoting health literacy, social wellness, and community participation through movement-based service, which will bring more users to the Library because they will realize the organization has much more to offer outside of the physical collection.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
Other Library Silent Discos:
– Enterprise staff. (n.d.) Silent Disco Comes to the Library.
– Town Planner. (2018). Lake County Public Library – Silent Disco for Teens.
– Kadosh, M. (2018, January 29). Belleville Library’s Silent Dance Party for Teens.

Health-Based Research:
– Woolhouse, M.H., Cross, I., & Tidhar, D. (2016). Effects on Inter-Personal Memory of Dancing in Time with Others.
– Tarr, B., Launary, J., & Dunbar, R.I.M. (2016). Silent Disco: Dancing in Synchrony Leads to Elevated Pain Thresholds and Social Closeness.

– Silent Disco Party UK. (n.d.). How to Host a Silent Disco.
– Verde, A. (2017, October 2). How to Throw a Silent Disco.

The Burbank Public Library’s Silent Disco won’t take place in the stacks, but could look a little something like this… [The Student Hub Live. (2016, September 21). Library silent rave. YouTube.]

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:
The Silent Disco will follow all BPL standard Rules of Conduct for library operations. The event will be utilizing equipment owned by a rental company, and therefore, the Library may want to place additional rules or boundaries on the event (e.g. the headsets do not leave the Community Room where the event is being held). Example of a procedure that ensures safety of materials: when the participants arrive, a staff member will write down their library card/school ID number and the headset number they take to keep track of which person checked out which headset. In the case of a missing headset, the library staff will know which patron to contact. The youth services staff will also review past events of a similar size (e.g. murder mystery parties) to determine the appropriate level of staffing for this event. The age range allowed to participate in the event will align with the standard for all of the Burbank Library’s programming for teens, which includes those ages 12-18 years old only. After staffing, procedures, rules of conduct are examined by the youth services staff, Library administration will review the plan, offer any suggestions or amendments, and submit their approval.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
While I plan to implement the Silent Disco with the use of a rental company that will provide the headsets, transmitters, and other necessary technology, this event can be done with little to no funding if necessary. The Library will use the Community Room at the Buena Vista Branch for the event, which needs no adjustments and has a full kitchen for refreshments and full technology room for all DJ needs. The room may be decorated for the event with the help of the Teen Advisory Board. The funding for decorations, refreshments, and technology will come out of the youth services programming budget, supplemented with funds raised by the Friends of the Burbank Public Library. The main cost of the event is going to be the rental of the technology. The price will vary depending upon how many headsets will be needed for the event, as well as the number of transmitters needed. Each transmitter controls one channel of music and many companies provide the option for multiple transmitters (multiple channels), so participants have a variety of music to chose from. If budget becomes an issue and funding cannot be provided or raised for the event, there is another pathway to Silent Disco. The Merrillville Branch of the Lake County Public Library hosted a silent disco for teens without renting equipment. Participants used their own music-playing device (iPhone, iPod, smartphone, etc.) and their own headset (wireless or not) to listen to their own music (Town Planner, 2018). The Merrillville Library did offer wired earbuds to participants who were unable to provide their own. Opting to have participants provide their own device allows them to choose their own music, ensuring that they enjoy what they are listening to, but it does not necessarily introduce them to new technology.

Funding for staffing will also need to be covered; no less than three staff members will be present and their hours must be compensated. If a library monitor is requested for the event, their presence will need to be calculated in the total budget as well. No outside staffing will occur.

Action Steps & Timeline:
Reasonable implementation of this program is two to three months:
1. Plan is pitched to the Youth Services Supervising Librarian for approval.
2. YS Supervising Librarian approves plan, budget is solidified, and our team pitches to Administration for approval. (1 week)
3. Administration approves funding and YS team makes reservation for technology rental. (1 week)
4. YS team collaborates with Marketing to begin promoting the event on social media. YS team works with local groups to promote the event (PTA, local schools, parent groups). (6 weeks)
6. Teen Advisory Board (TAB) meets to plan decorations and details of the event, make suggestions, devise action plan. (1 week)
7. The day of the event the TAB arrives two hours early (4:30pm) to start setting up for the event. Refreshments are picked up by staff member.
8. Evaluation of the program. (up to 1 week)

**There is buffer time built into the planning stage (before administration approval) in the case of a “No” from the Youth Service Supervising Librarian.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
As mentioned in the Funding section, no less than three staff members must be present for the event. At the very least, the Youth Services Librarian, Library Assistant, and staff member from Digital Services will be present at the event. Administration may also require that a Library Monitor be present. The staff member from Digital Services will be acting as “DJ” for the night and will be present to quell any technological issues with the rental equipment.

Training for this Technology or Service: 
All staff members present on the night of the event need to be trained to operate the headsets and other rental equipment incase a problem arises. Larger scale problems may be solved by the Digital Services staff member. Training can be scheduled for the day prior to the event, ensuring that all headsets work properly and the event is staffed with capable hands.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
Many marketing tools can be used to promote the Silent Disco. All Library social media accounts will share information about the event including:

– Both the Library’s main Instagram page, as well as the Burbank Library Teen’s Instagram. Information can be shared as a post on Instagram and multiple posts on Instagram stories. Posting on IG stories provides opportunity for feedback from users; they can post a prompt on their story to be answered by users like “I promise to attend if you play this song _______.” This promotes pre-event participation, and can help the Library staff with information gathering (curating a playlist).
– Information about the event will also show up on Facebook, Twitter, in the Library’s monthly newsletter, on the Library website, and will be mentioned at the end of other programs.
– The Library can share video clips of staff members dancing (silently) on social media prior to the event to create excitement.
– Members of the TAB can share information about the event with their peers, and in other clubs or organizations.
– The Youth Services staff will share the information with staff at local middle & high schools, and attend the two Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings prior to the event to help promote the event and answer any parent questions/concerns.
– The Youth Services staff can also reach out to non-profit organizations in Burbank like the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club, and local Scout troops.

– Participation statistics will be used to determine the baseline of success for the program. Library staff will track how many participants registered in advance for the event and how many showed up on the night of the event. These numbers will be compared to previous teen programming.
– As the participants return their headsets at the end of the night, they will be directed to a white board to voluntarily answer a three-question survey. They will make a check mark for “Yes” and X for “No” under each question. Questions: Was it fun? Would you Silent Disco again? Would you recommend this event to a friend?
– New library user sign ups as a result of the event will also be used as an evaluation tool.
– Staff observations from the event (Were the participants dancing? Were they smiling? Were they socializing?).
– Feedback from parents/caregivers based on their teen’s experience at the event.


Burbank Public Library. (2019). Annual report, 2019 [Internal document].

Burbank Public Library. (n.d.-a). Burbank public library planning process.

Burbank Public Library. (n.d.-b). A plan for today, a vision for tomorrow: Burbank Public Library 2020-2023 strategic plan.

Burbank Public Library. (n.d.-c). Rules of conduct.

Lenstra, N. (2017). Movement-Based Programs in U.S. and Canadian Public Libraries: Evidence of Impacts from an Exploratory Survey. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice12(4), 214.

Stephens, M. (2020). Participatory service & transparency [Lecture]. Retrieved from

  1. I’d never heard of a Silent Disco until reading Skye’s post, and I love the idea! Reading your take on this, @mollyp, helps me see the additional potential and options. I think it’s fantastic that you include the option of not using rented equipment, but having teens use their own devices. And either way, allowing them to listen to their own music is something I wouldn’t have thought of, but allows for all musical tastes. I hope you are able to make this happen in Burbank.

    1. @kayzdaze2020 Me too! I’ve been sharing the idea with many of my coworkers. Maybe post-vaccine we could make it happen or during the summer in the park adjacent to the library. I’m hopeful it will happen eventually!

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