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Post It Note Art (Guest Post by Stacey Costabile)

A couple of weeks ago I was totally excited by a piece of artwork shared as part of The 2012 Project on Twitter: a Post It note cat.  It was glorious, and the best part – it was created by teens!  Today the teen librarian that coordinated this project shares her thoughts with us as a part of this excellent guest blog post.  If you decide to make your own Post It note art – and you totally should – please send pictures as part of The 2012 Project.

Our Post-It Note Nyan Cat has been making his way around library-land and my teens and I are so excited at the great response such a simple project is getting! Because it is pretty simple, you just need to plan accordingly!

The idea came to fruition because I am a huge geek and spent far too much time on the Internet. I Tweet, Tumble (is that what you do on Tumblr? I still haven’t figured out a good verb for that), and Pin and yet I abandon every blog I’ve ever started. So while I was on one of my many binges on KnowYourMeme.com, I came across the Tumblr for Post-It War and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I have recently been working with my Teen Advisory Group on plans to do “retro” (their words!) Nintendo gaming in the library and thought they’d get a kick out of these great pixel decorations using Post-Its. When we found out the theme for Teen Tech Week was “Geek Out @ Your Library” it seemed like the perfect way to get the teens excited and to make some great decorations. At Naperville Public Library, we have three locations so we decided to try to do something different at each location, each chosen by our Teen Advisory Group (TAG) at that building (the other two locations chose to do PacMan and a Rubik’s Cube.)

The first thing I did was print out a few examples from the Post-It War Tumblr to get approval from our Library Manager. Once I got the enthusiastic approval from my Supervisor and the Library Manager (who was hoping for something huge and impressive), I gave the printouts to my Teen Advisory Group (TAG) as I explained the idea at our next meeting. I was sure they’d seen these before and that I’d be told it was “sooooo last month” but the TAG loved it and immediately started
choosing which one they wanted to attempt.

For those of you unfamiliar with Nyan Cat… consider yourself warned: once you watch this video, you will never be able to get the song out of your head! Unbeknownst to me, my teens are quite obsessed with this little Poptart Cat and started bragging about how long they’ve been able to listen to it without stopping. Needless to say, Nyan-Cat won out over Mario, Zelda and Pac-Man. I even learned that “nyan” is Japanese for “meow.” These guys are so smart.

Once we had a design, I had to figure out how to make it happen. Using photos of other Post-It War Nyan Cats and an image of the actual pixel cat, I hunted down some graph paper (thank you children’s department!) and started sketching. After I had the outline of Nyan, I used colored
pencils to mark out which part needed which color of Post-It. Then I counted out how many colored squares of each color there were so I would know the amount of Post-Its would be needed for that section (I didn’t want to run out half way!) A quick trip to Staples, a few strange looks from other shoppers as I contemplated the properties of various shades of neon, and $23 later, I had more than enough Post-Its for the whole cat (with extra in case of adhesive failure!)

On the morning we created the display; I measured out the window and figured out where to start so that the image would be centered where I wanted it. I put up the first 8 or so columns so that the teens could take over when they came in and not have to mess with rulers. Once they showed up (they had the day off of school which worked out perfectly!), I handed them the graph paper plans and Post-Its and they came up with a plan of attack while I supervised. During the course of the “posting”, they adjusted techniques a few times; assigning each person a specific color, trying an assembly line, and assigning a director to lead them as they put the next color. They were very insistent that everyone had a chance to work on the cat. With 8 volunteers in a tiny space, it was a bit harder to get everyone involved at the beginning, but they made it work in the end. We ran into a little trouble keeping the grid straight, but a few steps back and some quick adjustments brought them back on track. Next time, I would probably create an x & y axis using dry erase markers to help keep the grid straight so they wouldn’t have to spend too much time fixing their rows.

In total, the Nyan Cat took about 3 hours (including prep time on the day of), 865 post its, 8 teen volunteers and a box of chocolate cookies to finish. Since we had to place the notes over the metal
window partitions, I did use some double sided tape to reinforce those notes. But so far, we’ve gone a whole week and none have floated off (or been “borrowed”).

For anyone worrying about wasting materials, I’m going to collect them and we will use them as scrap paper at the reference desk, so everything will be put to good use! The teens loved doing it and are looking forward to more Post-It art for the summer reading program. They’ve brought their parents, grandparents and friends in to show off what they made. And the bright display has brought a lot of attention to our YA department. This is definitely a do-able project for any teen space with a few windows (and Post-Its) to spare!

You can find albums of Nyan Cat and all our Post-It Art at our Teen Space Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/TeenSpaceNPL

Stacey Costabile, MLS is the Teen Services Librarian at Naperville Public Library


  1. This is AWESOME! And so not a waste of materials. Psshhh – It's art! I bet your kids have loved becoming “famous” for their Post-It art 🙂 Going to check out the other designs now…

  2. I love it!

  3. Looks like you all had fun…and what Team, uh Teen, uh, Teem, uh, Tean work!

  4. Wow, that looks awesome! Such a great project. Naperville seems to be the place to be for cool book/library events and ideas. I've heard great things about its independent bookstores as well.

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  6. Thanks again for the inspiration! We created angry birds on our library windows!

  7. Looks really great! Great design! @Rory how many different post-it types do you have?

  8. Being new, I am always looking around online for articles to help.

  9. I'm looking for walls that I can do this on right now.

  10. Thanks to the recent “favorites” round-up on TLT, I've discovered this post! I am really hoping we can do it sometime this summer; it's perfect for Minecraft images!

  11. First of all well done to you and your teens! Second, I could see this as a project where patrons could write their favorite book on the post note art.

  12. Thanks so much for the inspiration! I totally stole this idea (i'd been jonesin to do it for awhile) and pitched it to the TAG group at my new library and this is the result! http://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2013/10/post-it_note_wars_east_brunswick_teens_create_art_out_of_sticky_notes.html#incart_river_middlesex
    Thanks for making me look really great at my new job 😉

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