Get Crafty at Your Local Library!
Great ways to use your library to relax, play, and expand your own creativity
I’ll admit it: I’m an extremely crafty individual. If you open almost any drawer in my home, you’ll find ribbons, marbles, beads, and blocks of clay. It might be surprising, but becoming a librarian frequently allowed me to explore my love of arts, crafts, and creative projects.
In fact, local libraries are crafting hotspots! No matter which materials you enjoy working with, or what creative skill you want to develop, your library can help. Find tools, techniques, and inspiration right at your local library.
What do libraries have to offer for artists or crafters?
Of course, libraries tend to have several “how-to” books on a tremendous number of craft hobbies and art skills. (I actually just checked out a beautiful book of “DIY” terrarium ideas from my library!) However, libraries offer much more than books (and ebooks) when it comes to arts and crafts.
Most libraries offer art kits, videos, and online courses for everyone from curious would-be crafters to seasoned artists. Since some of these resources may be digital, you may not even need to leave your own home to take advantage of them! Visit your library’s website and see what’s available, or give your library a call to learn more about the resources it has to offer.
If you want a hands-on experience in the library building, ask if your library has a makerspace for visitors. For readers who aren’t familiar with the term, a makerspace is a shared workshop or set of materials for users. Public libraries all around the country offer awesome makerspaces.
Makerspaces may include resources such as 3-D printers, woodworking tools, cameras, and an array of software programs. Ask your local library about signing up to use makerspace materials.
Finally, my very favorite way to create with local libraries is to attend classes and events. Check your library’s calendar to find out about upcoming craft events, or suggest a craft program that you would like to attend. Believe me, librarians love to hear suggestions! Whether you want to paint a pet portrait or create sentimental pictures frames with your kids, let your library know.
What do library visitors experience at craft events?
Some art programs at libraries are led by professionals, and other classes or programs may be led by librarians themselves. I’ve taught or assisted with a wide range of creative classes for both children and adults. Programs that I led taught visitors to make seasonal wreaths, decorate meditative “mandala rocks,” design and produce pottery, turn recycled plastic bottles into quirky — and functional — chandeliers, and to embroider.
Some of my previous programs have even been “free-style” artistic gatherings. For these programs, I invited community members scrapbook, decoupage, knit, sew, or work on any type of project. Visitors also had the option to bring any materials that they would like to share with other people. Since our library frequently accumulated leftover craft materials after from more structured programs, these informal gatherings were a great way to share items with the community and reduce waste.
Regardless of the style of each arts or crafting program, each event teemed with a sense of community and inspiration. Visitors come to library events to share ideas and to learn from each other, so the overall feeling at these programs has always been incredibly positive to me. Just a single spark of creativity can create a bonfire of exciting ideas, so an entire group of people bringing their minds and energy together at the library is incredibly exciting!
By watching library visitors interact, I’ve seen the “contagious creativity” phenomenon occur many times, and visitors have often inspired me as well. At one of my craft programs, a friend of mine taught library visitors to crochet. I didn’t have much interest in yarn at the time I scheduled the crochet event, but I decided to give crocheting a try.
Before the program, I thought that crocheting was only useful for making scarves and baby blankets, but I was totally wrong! Once I realized the great variety of household items and gifts that I could make by crocheting, I was hooked — cheesy pun unintended. I’ll admit that my cat wasn’t thrilled with the beret crocheted for her. However, the “bath scrubbies” I created were a big hit with my friends!
When it comes to arts and crafts, are there any tips library visitors should know?
Absolutely! Time spent at the library or using library resources can be incredibly enjoyable. Here are a few pointers which can help you make the most out of your library experience.
1. Call or message your library about event registration.
Different libraries follow different guidelines about registration. Sometimes, your library may even have different rules for different events. Many library events may require registration to ensure that there are enough seats and materials for everyone. Other events may not require registration. Just ask a librarian before you show up.
If you would like to register a child or bring a friend who is not a member of the library, it’s definitely a good idea to inquire first. Often, it is fine to bring a non-member to a program, as long as the person is registered first. Typically, libraries advertise whether a program is for a certain age group, such as children, adults, senior citizens, or everyone.
If you would like your child or teen to craft with you at an adult program, always ask the library. Library art programming can be a fun and inexpensive (or free) way to bond with family members, but some events are designed with only adults in mind.
2. Don’t worry about your artistic ability!
I promise that you are creative. Know that other library visitors may also be concerned about whether they are “artistic” or if their projects look “silly.” Keep in mind that library craft programs are not graded classes!
I’ve never seen an instructor, nor another library visitor, react negatively to the ideas or creative work of an program attendee. People attend library arts and crafts programs to learn and explore, not to judge each other. Sometimes, the instructor might even be learning a technique alongside you!
3. Sign up for a library card.
In order to borrow resources and to access online materials from your local library, it is very likely that you will need a library card. Call your library to ask what items you should bring to sign up for a card and to make sure that you are eligible. For example, most libraries ask for proof that you live in the neighboring area and a form of photo identification.
Take some time for yourself. You deserve to relax, play, and expand your own creativity. This is also an awesome time of the year to think about goals for learning and personal growth. Get started at your library, and let your imagination take you away!