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Things I Didn’t Learn in Library School: Crafting Programs by Stephanie W.

We are excited to welcome the fabulous Stephanie Wilkes back to TLT after her maternity leave.  We have missed her.  Today she is sharing with you her first ever installment of Things I Never Learned in Library School.

How to do crafts. Or in my case, crapfts.  I completely suck at being an artsy fartsy person in so much as being able to do certain types of programming.  I am a master seamstress and I quilt but the few programs where I’ve tried to get teens interested in those things didn’t go so well and the cost per person wasn’t justifiable to administration.  So…for other types of crafts, I’m expected to just whip things up.  And let me tell you…at no time in my MLIS instruction did anyone teach me how to varnish, paint, make shrinky dinks out of plastic cups, braid lanyards, make Hunger Games parachute drops, or make duct tape (insert name of any object here).  

So, like any brave YA librarian, I started my programming career by Google-ing crafts.  Now, remember this was before the days of Pinterest and DIY blogging.  So, I would get random hits from Disney Family Fun and other websites where the crafts were primarily for children.  No bueno.  
You newbie librarians of today have NO IDEA how valuable the Internet has become in providing programming resources for crafts.  Pinterest alone has fueled all of my SRP programming and even made me a bit of an addict.  Late night feedings with my daughter turn into 3 hour Pinterest browsing…

Also, now there is a wealth of DIY blogging sites out there for you to not only copy their crafts but they even have tutorials, videos, and they give you the supply list and sometimes tell you where to go to buy the supplies…genius!!!!  I remember living in a small college town and trying to find a leather stamp for a leatherworks program and clear glycerin for a soap workshop.  NOT EASY.  
Also, you tend to overestimate the level of crafting that some teens have done.  I thought that my teens would immediately be able to use an exacto knife to cut things.  Negative.  Most teens have NEVER had an art class or are used to crafting.  At least most of mine…now that is a generalization and there are quite a few crafty teens in the world.  So, don’t think that your next program will produce budding Picassos or that they won’t need some serious one on one time.  Also, work that one on one time into your program planning time.  A craft that only takes you 45 minutes to an hour could take a group several hours to complete if you are the only person there to help.  Trust me.  Those paracord bracelets in a room full of 15 teens?  Took us 2.5 hours and half of them had to leave early.    


  1. This past fall's locker makeover crafts were pronounced “too easy” by some high schoolers. So Wednesday we try sock critters. I am a little scared. I have done the project before, so there's that.

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