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This post originally appeared on the LAIP in March 2016.
Writing in a library means that participants have gone out of their comfort zone to perform an intimate act of creation among both friends and strangers. It’s really quite brave!
by Ally Blumenfeld
All across the country, libraries are offering writing programs for adults and teens, ranging from formal workshops led by local writers to unrestricted opportunities to free-write. While it seems natural for writing to happen in a place with associated with reading, writing groups are about more than putting pen to paper. Writers gather to discuss the craft, give and receive feedback, and participate in the experience of sharing. Writing in a library means that participants have gone out of their comfort zone to perform an intimate act of creation among both friends and strangers. It’s really quite brave!
Writing groups can be exceptionally challenging and enriching for teens. Maddy Santore, Young Adult Librarian at Paterson Free Public Library (PFPL), told me about her experiences with getting teens writing and sharing in an urban public library.
First: it’s easier than you’d think! Maddy often begins Writing and Drawing Group meetings by offering a unique 20-30 minute prompt to get the teens thinking creatively. One time, she wrote down various places, settings, characters, and situations and had teens draw one of each at random. The challenge was to create a story or drawing using all four features; the rest was up for interpretation. One of her favorite stories was one about a superhero lost in a grocery store on Mars.
There is rich diversity among the teens at PFPL, and as in any group, a variety of comfort levels. The rules of a teen writing group should be flexible and forgiving. Teens aren’t required to share their work, though many will. “There might be one or two who hesitate,” Maddy explains, “but when they see the others sharing, they often do, too.”
The rules of a teen writing group should be flexible and forgiving.
Maddy joins in and writes, too — and the teens expect her to share! For her, it’s a chance to become more than just a proctor while they write, and to make herself seem more accessible than most other adults in the their lives.
When it comes to giving feedback, there are no imposed limits on what teens can and cannot say to one another. Most often, teens will offer suggestions rather than criticisms, focusing on their own ideas and finding similarities–ways to relate–to others’ work as opposed to finding faults within it. The teens genuinely understand and respect the courage it takes to share their work. They are remarkably willing to open up to each other. Many have a deep understanding of the healing, joy, or escapism that writing and drawing offer.
At this stage in these young writers’ lives, writing is a hobby, and so participants can enjoy the freedom of a low-pressure environment where the act of sharing is valued more than the need for improvement.
At this stage in these young writers’ lives, writing is a hobby, and so participants can enjoy the freedom of a low-pressure environment where the act of sharing is valued more than the need for improvement. Maddy believes that it’s simply “a chance to stretch themselves creatively, to draw or write something they might not on their own.”
Since the club’s inception in November, teens have been writing and drawing just as much in their free time, but will now often show their work to Maddy and ask for her opinion. The Writing and Drawing Club helps these burgeoning writers and artists appreciate the art of feedback, and the value of sharing.
At the Incubator, we love creativity exercises, so if you’re interested in hosting a teen writing workshop and don’t know where to start, we HIGHLY recommend Lynda Barry’s wonderful book What It Is. She believes anyone can write and draw– and we agree! Check out more about Lynda’s class, The Unthinkable Mind on Open Culture.
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There’s a new 3D modeler in VR town and it feels like a game-changer — MakeVR was released today by Vive Studios and Sixense. We tested early versions on the HTC Vive system and I can testify it’s an amazing experience, very intuitive and so natural feeling — you just […]
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The enthusiasm of the open source and maker movements has led to quite a democratization of tools. Capabilities once reserved for professional or academic users have become staples of our daily lives. One of the earliest tool sets that changed the world after it became democratized was printing. This happened in […]
The 2017 Hackaday Project started just last Monday. The event is divided into five different challenges spread throughout the year with over $250K in cash prizes. The first challenge, Design Your Concept, continues through May 1. Those who wish to participate are tasked with creating something that will assist with exploring the unexplored. Creators need […]
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If you’re tired of watching normal YouTube videos, why not take it to the Max with MAX Maker? Max’s projects are an eclectic mix of well-made builds, ranging from a motorized camera slider, to a steak knife handle, to a large ruler case. If you do watch his videos, you’ll […]
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Big parties need a conversation piece, and what’s better than a drink-making robot? Not only is it a good conversation starter, it also frees up the party host who would normally be the bartender. It turned out that the drink robot was a really good idea. The Mai Tai recipe presented here […]
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Crowdfunding is a fast-moving target these days, with niche sites emerging, a growing ecology of support services, the emergence of equity funding, and more. After talking to makers who’ve both successfully launched and backed projects, and to those in the crowdfunding business, we put together this collection of tips, tricks, […]
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Whether you’re ready to convert your garage into a full blown laboratory or just want to try a few fun experiments with your friends, here are some projects to inspire and to DIY. Agent Unicorn Anouk Wipprecht designed this playful unicorn horn to aid ADHD researchers by making EEG sensors […]
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When you pick up the remote control to your stereo, are you pleased with how it looks? Most of us don’t put much thought into it, because they’re typically so bland that they’re nearly invisible. Michael Greensmith (@Bricabracwizard) wanted to take a different approach. “I wanted a remote control that’s so […]
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This post originally appeared on the LAIP in March 2016.
Adult programs tend to have a lot more to do with learning than they do with making. How do we balance the scales of creative programming to give our older patrons more opportunities to create?
by Ally Blumenfeld
If it seems like children typically have more fun in the library than adults do, it’s probably true. Where are all the art supplies in the library? In the Children’s Department, of course! And who’s waiting to get on a public computer to print out tax forms? Adults. When I was handed some of the programming reins at Paterson Free Public Library, my first call to action was creating a Game Night for Grown Ups and an Art Night for Adults. Why should kids get all the fun?
For Art Night, I wanted to start small, so I started with adult coloring. I’m not typically one for trends, but this is one bandwagon I hopped on with fervor. It couldn’t be simpler: free copies of “adult coloring book” pages abound, and coloring pencils, tables, and chairs aren’t hard to find in a library. In our current climate of tight budgets, coloring is a cheap and simple way to get adults creating in the library. It’s less pressure than, say, a figure drawing class or a paint night. Patrons who do have advanced art skills bring their own sketchbooks or drawing paper, and create alongside those simply coloring inside the lines. But creative programming can be so much more than just coloring.
Libraries in cities like mine are too often overwhelmed by the great deal of need our patrons bring with them to the library. We offer help with needs: access to social services, healthcare enrollment assistance, and computer classes. We need to balance this with wants: relaxation, creativity, entertainment, and conversation.
South Brunswick Public Library in South Brunswick, New Jersey has one of the most well-rounded adult program calendars I have ever seen. From Tai Chi to Cooking Club, English Conversation Group to World Cinema Club, and Yoga Class to Knitting Club, adults come to SBPL for more than what they need — they come for what they want. Adults also come to the library to create: SBPL offers biweekly Zen Coloring and Drawing and a monthly craft program for adults.
Barbara Battles, Head of Outreach Services, explained that the way the library is staffed helps to provide a wide variety of programs in many different interest areas. A part-time librarian runs the cooking program; the librarian who purchases the DVDs runs the film program; book clubs and computer classes are run by several different librarians; and Battles, with a background in fine arts, runs the crafting program. Additionally, the library utilizes the interests of its volunteers to host programs and classes: volunteers are free to offer their talents as opposed to being put to work in the stacks. Programming at SBPL is a library-wide effort, allowing for a huge range of diverse and creative programs for adults.
Everyone has something to escape from, and many people have at least the most basic inclination to create. ~Jill D’Amico
And adults certainly come! Jill D’Amico, Head of Information Services, says, “Everyone has something to escape from, and many people have at least the most basic inclination to create. We did it as younger people in school, and now, in a low-pressure place where you can work alongside others without competing, adults are free to experiment and try new things.” For the adults in my library, Art Night is about re-connecting with an old hobby in a judgment-free zone. It’s a chance to flex the creative muscles we ardently encourage among children, but forget to foster in adults.
What do you think? Are enough libraries inviting their adult patrons to indulge in creative projects, whether it be coloring, cooking, crafting, or writing? How can we better utilize the talents of our staff and volunteers to improve the range of our adult programming?
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Our Pi Day contest just ended, and we got a ton of clever, creative entries. Although we could only choose one winner, we want to highlight the batch of awesome runner-up projects that made our decision so hard.
Field Ready is a nonprofit that applies maker skills in disaster areas and communities of need. Read on for co-founder Dara Dotz' advice on what to do, how to solve problems, and what's next for humanitarian aid.
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In the last few months we’ve experienced a complete turnover of our team of Labs Mentors. Two have moved on to full-time Teen Specialist gigs at weekly Labs locations (Jesse as a Teen Specialist at CLP – Main, Teen Department and Sienna as a Teen Librarian at CLP – Allegheny) where their skills as Labs Mentors are still utilized on a daily basis, while the other two have moved on to new adventures outside of the Library. Patrick Coyle, a talented local musician and filmmaker, is one of our new Mentors and, as you’ll see in the following post, he brings a fresh perspective and a great energy to the gig. In our latest post to the LAIP blog, Patrick discusses being a new mentor and our current focus: tweaking the design of our badging system and model of staff training so both can be expanded across all CLP locations.
While we have experimented with training before led by myself and other Labs staff, we now realize it’s imperative to share the responsibility of teaching and learning across our team if we want it to be successful. By the end of May we hope to have a model for badging that can be utilized at all library locations (not just those with weekly Labs programming) as well as a model for peer-to-peer staff learning sessions that not only result in staff learning new skills, but in learning to facilitate informal, project-based learning programs for patrons, too. Enjoy!
(P.S. Check back in May for a follow-up to our last post by Tara Goe about lending music devices at our Main Library. It’s going great so far!)
~Corey Wittig, Digital Learning Lead Librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
by Patrick Coyle
It’s been a little over a month since Flory Gessner, Hannah Thompson and I began our positions as Teen Mentors in The Labs program at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP), and we immediately dove headfirst into establishing connections with youth at our assigned library locations. We were thrilled to get to know everyone and work to explore their passions. Since the start, this position has been a lovely sort of dance, one that involves the many movements and flourishes of both teens and staff alike, and I’ve enjoyed learning the steps and also having the space to come up with my own.
Vital to every routine is practice and preparation, and I feel like that aspect is most visible in the recent trainings that Corey Wittig, Digital Learning Lead Librarian for CLP, has implemented as part of a grant to flesh out the library’s system of badges that have existed in beta at just a few library locations over the last couple of years. These peer-to-peer staff training sessions just began at the beginning of March, but they already feel helpful and necessary for three reasons: they get us closer to having new and improved badges that will lend to more concrete learning for teens; they allow staff a time to share their skills so that we all have a wider breadth of knowledge; they provide the space for staff to get used to teaching workshops within the two hour time frame, very much like the time frame that the mentors have on their workshop days.
I got to lead one of these training sessions last week, a run through of the Point N’ Shoot and the DSLR badges so we could work on, and it had a similar vibe to a usual workshop with teens: we were learning things together, having hands on experience with the materials, and utilizing the library space to arrive at some sort of finished product. It was a lot of fun stretching our legs while we gallivanted around the first floor of CLP – East Liberty, using our phones to capture the various aspects of composition, then messing around with the DSLRs, achieving proper exposure, toying with depth of field, and adjusting shutter speed to create motion blur.
Photos: Ben Filio for The Sprout Fund
It felt very refreshing to teach in this environment, because at times I would be at a loss for words when describing a technical aspect of the camera, only to be saved by someone proposing an answer or asking a question that helped knock some of the terms loose, and it was also very nice to have Ben Filio from The Sprout Fund chime in whenever we needed a helping hand. Thanks for the photos and the help, Ben!
At the end of the session, we all felt like we learned something collaboratively, and after reflecting on these sessions as a whole and their continued implementation, I’m reminded that our mentor positions are in a state of transition. When August rolls around, The Labs mentors will move to new branch locations to establish brand new Labs locations, and since our time and attention will be spent expanding programming there, we must do as much as we can now to make sure staff at the existing Labs sites are prepared to continue providing guidance and access to these new resources for their teens. These badge-training sessions are a big part of how we’re preparing our staff to do just that.
Patrick Coyle is a mentor in The Labs at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty. With a background in music and film production, he loves writing songs, collaborating with others on creative projects, and helping people discover their own passions.
After seeing the gear-filled Executive desk by Dale Mathis during a trip to Las Vegas, Thomas Lerchenfeld was inspired to build a coffee table version. His table design (seen here on imgur) was inspired by, and is very close in design to, the one seen in the video below by […]
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Fine artist and self-described master hoarder Nemo Gould conjures up fantastic sculptures made entirely of found objects. Rich wood and gleaming chrome catch the eye as they cycle through their kinetic loops, while tentacles and antennae extend in a playful fashion like a sci-fi comic book come to life. The […]
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A lot of filament addresses how a print will look, but Proto-Pasta's new Matte Fiber filament also gives a textured, grippy feel to your prints.
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Artist Britt Hutchinson, better known as Tiny Cup Needleworks (@tinycup_), has only been doing hand embroidery for about three years, but she’s already amassed nearly 76,000 Instagram followers with her charmingly teeny tiny needlework. She often photographs her work alongside a quarter to highlight its minuscule scale. “There’s something incredibly satisfying […]
Medical patents typically last 20 years, but because of minor yet regular advancements to the insulin production process, these patents have been maintained for nearly a century. Biohackers working on the Open Insulin Project are now working to come up with their own protocol to create the compound that diabetics […]
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Screws and bolts are simple options for fastening two pieces of material together. As you might have guessed, the secret is in the threads, but how would you go about making your own? In this section, we’ll go over the tap and die, a set of tools that allows you […]
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Today we talk with Ivy Jarvis, a librarian for the Glendale Public Library in Glendale, AZ, and an organizer for the Arizona Songwriters Gathering, an annual event that takes advantage of the library’s indoor and outdoor community spaces. Enjoy! ~Laura
Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): What was the impetus for starting the Songwriters Gathering? Was it library-initiated, community-initiated?
Ivy Jarvis (IJ): The Arizona Songwriters Gathering was founded in 1996 by Lon Austin. At the time, Lon Austin was the recreation coordinator at the City of Phoenix’s Encanto Park. He approached the Arizona Songwriters Association president, Jon Iger, and ASA member Gavan Wieser about offering a co-sponsored program at his venue. Together, they organized a program offering lectures and workshops on various topics of interest to songwriters, as well as providing songwriters with an opportunity to perform their original songs in front of an audience. In 2008, the Songwriters Gathering lost its venue and sought out a new home in neighboring Glendale.
Anne Owens, who was the adult programming librarian for Glendale Public Library, had already established a tradition of strong cultural programming for Glendale residents. She created a bimonthly “Coffeehouse” program featuring local musicians, as well as a weekly “Live @ the Library” series offering high-quality cultural performances. The City of Glendale’s Parks and Recreation department was also hosting the annual Glendale Folk and Heritage Festival at a historic park right next door to the Main Glendale Public Library. The Arizona Songwriters Gathering fit into the larger cultural picture of what was already happening in Glendale. Today, the Gathering is organized each year by a committee consisting of librarian Ivy Jarvis and songwriters Jon Iger, Randy Brown, Lon Austin, and Andy Hurlbut. A team of volunteers helps make the day run smoothly.
LAIP: What has the response been like to the program since its inception?
IJ: The Arizona Songwriters Gathering has retained a fairly stable audience of around 400 attendees every year. Songwriters and music lovers alike enjoy this day of networking, sharing, listening, and learning. Some songwriters come to hone their craft and learn tips and techniques for getting their songs recorded, copyrighted, and/or featured in TV and film; others are interested in playing their original songs in front of an accepting audience.
Unlike some of the larger “mega-events” that Glendale offers, The Arizona Songwriters Gathering is not designed to attract thousands of people. This free special event adds to the quality of life in our city by bringing people with similar interests together on a smaller scale. The day has a bit of magic in it. Everyone is very warm and encouraging, and participants love the opportunity to reunite with this unique group every January. Some lecturers, performers and attendees travel in from out of town and even from out of state to participate. So far as we know, it is the only program of its kind.
LAIP: What advice do you have for a library or community that is interested in getting a similar program off the ground?
IJ: My advice to others wanting to offer a similar program is to tap into the talents, personalities, and interests of your staff. If it weren’t for Lon Austin’s vision in 1996, the Arizona Songwriters Gathering wouldn’t exist. His passion for folk music and songwriting brought us this successful event 21 years ago.
Look to your community to inspire programming topics and ideas. The Arizona Songwriters Gathering is a natural fit for Glendale because it works as a part of the larger cultural picture in the library and the city as a whole.
Consider logistics as well; the Arizona Songwriters Gathering is literally a good fit for our library thanks to our large meeting room wing and extensive outdoor area, both of which are ideally suited for a festival-type program like this.
Finally, once you’ve decided what type of program you are interested in offering, reach out to the experts in the field. Attempt to create partnerships with professional organizations in your area.
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by Ian Boucher
I became a librarian to apply my knowledge and skills in media studies and production toward information literacy education. This semester, at a time when the importance of reliable information is more apparent than ever, I took a cue from popular online culture in the tradition of videos like CinemaSins to create a series of icebreaker tutorials called “Library Tips in Movie Clips.” As it turns out, movies have way more library references than you’d think!
As it turns out, movies have way more library references than you’d think!
When our college’s website was updated in the fall of 2016, the library’s video tutorials needed to follow suit, and I was looking forward to using our Media Production Lab to create a more engaging generation of tutorials. My first priority was to make a video on information literacy and the CRAAP Test I had recently heard about, a deft search strategy that is both appealing and memorable. When I began writing the script, I planned on featuring a student with fun pop-ups. But when I included three movie clips for a funny introduction, I thought, why not keep going? Why not see how many movie moments I could use to convey the CRAAP Test and make information literacy even more relevant and engaging? Thus, “Library Tips in Movie Clips” was born.
With Final Cut Pro, a YouTube downloader, screencasting software, DVDs from the library and my personal collection, and royalty free music, I was able to bring together the media I needed to make this invigorating new statement. I aimed for a balance of films recent and classic to create a comprehensive experience that would quickly appeal to as many people as possible. I used the YouTube downloader to gather high quality clips that had already been posted online, and I used screencasting for clips I could not find on YouTube that also did not require sound. I cited each clip meticulously. To hone the tutorial further, I asked for feedback from students, colleagues, and friends, and cast a student to provide the narration, bringing my Blue Snowball microphone from home to record.
The tutorial—and its spot-on narrator—have received an incredibly positive response from students, faculty, staff, and beyond, earning almost as many views in two months as several of our previous videos have received in a year:
The next installment of the series is about the importance of citing reliable resources, and the tools libraries provide to help students maintain this standard in their lives. The narrator was delighted to reprise her role, and we worked together to build on our formula. In this video, I was able to include more real-life examples, a more comprehensive selection of films—including a few “sequel” clips—and more upbeat music. I also used Motion to create a fun handwriting effect. This video has so far been viewed at a higher rate than the first:
There are certainly many challenges that come with creating any video. Video editing is work that takes time and practice. It can also be expensive. While our library is fortunate enough to have Final Cut Pro and Motion, I have also heard good things about the free software DaVinci Resolve.
Remember when I said video editing takes time? Well, it takes a lot of time. Even though I was able to create each of these videos between my other library tasks within a week, I had to solve a variety of technical challenges along the way. Furthermore, creating a professional video requires making sure that your clips, text, and sound are the best they can be before posting (and even then, sometimes you’ll still notice mistakes). The timing of your video is also important. Although you want your video to move efficiently, you also need to ensure that your viewer has time to internalize the information. Finally, when you use excerpts of media that others created, copyright is crucial, and the United States has Fair Use. I combined previous media to make an educational point, but I also made sure to respect the original creative works.
I combined previous media to make an educational point, but I also made sure to respect the original creative works.
The benefits of video far outweigh the challenges. Information literacy may be needed now more than ever, but librarians have more capability than ever to be heard, to use their creativity, resources, and networks to spread the word, to speak the languages of their communities and bring the conversation about the value of libraries to where the people are.
“Library Tips in Movie Clips” has sparked a conversation. One of my colleagues provided helpful content for our LibGuides referencing the original CRAAP Test. Professors are using the tutorials in their courses. Librarians elsewhere are sharing them with their communities, since these tutorials aren’t branded until the end. Most of all, our students are remembering what the videos say—even quoting them—and want more.
Whatever shape your voice may take, use it to stand up and spread the word on reliable information. In the meantime, as our narrator says, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!
Ian Boucher has a background in television production, film studies, and communication theory, and earned his Master of Library and Information Science at Kent State University to become a librarian to advocate for information literacy. His primary research interests include the roles of motivation in information seeking behavior and the roles of film and superhero comic books in cultural discourse. Continue the conversation with him on Twitter @Ian_Boucher
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In the technology world, the Internet of Things is the hottest ticket around these days. This goes for consumer devices and maker tools alike. RS Components wants to get you participating in this space, and have put a batch of prizes on the line to see what IoT ideas you […]
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