A year of library crafts

A succulent book planter created at a past library craft event. Photo by: Taylor Worsham

For those in library school who are also working in a library with programming responsibilities or those looking to pursue this in the future, I invite you to explore some crafting projects I hosted at my library this year. I currently work at a small public library in Western Colorado and have hosted a monthly “Crafternoon” series for our community for the past few years. During these one to two hour sessions, makers enjoy free supplies and instruction to create a different project every month.

Crafting in libraries seems to have risen in popularity in recent years and anecdotally, our patrons really enjoy it. In a world where we always seem to be consuming different things – information, media, ideas – it can be incredibly powerful to create something and commune with neighbors. The sessions I host are geared towards teens and adults, though families are welcome too, and are pretty approachable projects with some seasonal themes.

2022 included the following –  

In the beginning of the year, we chose to focus on winter wellness activities and in January we learned about creative journaling and easy brush lettering techniques. We provided small dot journals, double sided brush pens, and calligraphy workbooks for those wishing to practice this art form. 

Around February and the Valentine’s Day holiday, we dipped chocolate covered strawberries as a way to treat ourselves or loved ones. As a separate, bonus event, we invited in a local craft chocolatier for a tasting and chocolate education event. 

In March, to display some Spring Break memories, we crafted “clay mountain photo holders” which were small triangles shaped like a mountain peak and painted to resemble a snowy scene, with twisted wire coming out of the top to hold one printed photograph. I enjoyed printing photos for participants because so much of our lives are documented in the digital space now.

In honor of Earth Day in April, we dove into beeswax wraps as a way to focus on sustainability and reducing our plastic footprint. Ideally, crafters were able to use these wraps in lieu of “cling wrap” or snack bags.

To get excited for the upcoming summer garden season, in May we made simple herb gardens planting seeds in egg cartons and painting rocks with the name of the herb – cilantro, basil, sage, etc. Rock painting was a favorite and requested for future sessions.

Summer also brings a focus on outdoor recreation in our community – hiking, biking, camping, fishing – and in June’s “camping prep” session we created fire starters and stuff sacks. Using egg cartons, dryer lint, wax, and cotton string, we upcycled those household materials to create inexpensible, portable pods to start fires. To carry these, or other gear, we made simple stitches in Tyvek envelopes from the post office to create waterproof, tear-resistant bags. 

In July, we brought back a craft that was popular in the past: vintage book planters. I don’t know about your library, but we receive countless book donations and we set aside the particularly visual hardbacks – like Reader’s Digest Condensed – to drill holes in, line with wood glue, and plant succulents in. I know what you’re thinking: how terrible that a library is destroying books, but these titles would otherwise be recycled or discarded. Upcycling is a focus for most of our events and our patrons love growing a plant out of a beautiful old book.

To usher in the start of a new school year, or a new fall season, we created vision boards documenting aspirations for the future using magazines and other paper supplies to a sheet of cardboard. Magazines are weeded every six months from our collection, leaving an abundant stash of back issues to dive into. Paired with our outdoor patio and some refreshing cold drinks, it was a nice night.

As an easy, but fun way to say farewell to summer, we took advantage of the last bit of the warm weather by ice tye dying in September. This was a new method for me but it consists of rubber banding book bags, aprons, bandanas or anything other cotton supplies, placing the powder dye directly on the item, covering it with ice and letting that ice melt for the dye to soak into the item.

With the changing of the leaves, we crafted fall book leaf wreaths in October using old book pages, false maple leaves, some burlap, and a hoop to hold it all together. We used so much hot glue, but the final product could be seen on front doors around town and as part of a fall display for the library.

November was one of my favorites for the year because it was actually “Gnomevember” – a celebration of the popularity of gnomes right now. We assembled false fur beards, felt hats, wooden bead noses on a mason jar to make gnome cookie jars, which we filled with fresh cookies and swapped some cookie recipes. 

To round out the year, we hosted our most popular one yet with a “Holiday Crafternoon” making soy candles. This one was more affordable and easier than I thought, making a very nice gift for the season. 

All projects included are for moderate budgets, with each session ranging from $50-$150, depending on the number of attendees. There are so many resources out there to find inspiration, among librarians or those in the crafting community at large. This profession can be incredibly creative and sharing this with the public through crafting events can be a meaningful pursuit. 

Taylor Worsham is from Gunnison, Colorado and is currently pursuing her MLS from Emporia State University’s distance program. After studying communication and political science for her undergrad at Western Colorado University, she worked briefly in marketing communications before finding her true calling in working in public libraries. Her current position as an adult services coordinator for Gunnison County Libraries focuses on public relations, programming, collection development, and circulation. In the future she hopes to expand her career to include more outreach and leadership duties. Outside of work and school, Taylor enjoys spending as much time outside as possible, traveling, photography, and reading contemporary fiction.

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