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Battle of the Bands

San Jose Public Library
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Problem Statement

We faced several problems:

  • The San José Public Library provides programs for teens, but it is still a struggle to get this large part of the population into the library.
  • In a diverse city like San José, there is a gap between teens with technical knowledge and those who lack this ability.
  • In a time of limited budgets and staffing, provide meaningful programming for a large library system.


Using the frame of YALSA’s Teen Tech Week, we host a systemwide Battle of the Bands contest for teen bands on a yearly basis. This contest consists of three parts: registration of interested teen bands, voting to determine the five finalists, the live battle to determine the three winners. The first two parts of the program are conducted online: first teen bands submit a link to their channel or one of their songs on YouTube, Facebook, MySpace or other social media sites. Teen bands that don’t have music online can attend one of our recording sessions to record and upload one of their songs. The second part is an online survey open to the general public to vote on up to three of their favorite bands. Links to the bands‘ music and the survey are hosted on a Battle of the Bands page on our website accompanied by a facebook page. The five finalists play a live concert at one of our locations and can showcase their talent and explore the arts in a safe space. The judges are community members involved in the local music scene and the event is hosted by a local radio show.


This year’s concert was attended by over 200 people and covered in the local evening news and newspapers. Over 2,700 people voted, and over half of them were not regular library users. Conducting the first two parts of the program online enabled all our locations to participate and market this program to their teen customers without additional costs. We received positive feedback from the teen musicians, their parents, survey participants, and other members of the community for providing a space for teens to explore their abilities.