Guest Blogger

Programming on the Cheap

We recently started a Lego Club at our library and it was a HUGE success.  Our monthly meetings regularly attract crowds of up to 200 people on what would normally be quiet Saturday mornings.

Lego Club at the Burbank Public Library
With a regular crowd of up to 200 people, our community room is usually filled to capacity with the Lego Club kids and their families. These large crowds help increase our circulation numbers after every club meeting.

The club is most popular with school-age kids although it is open to children from 2-14 years.  For safety reasons, kids under 4 are directed to the “Toddlers’ Area” which I create in the corner using our storytime rug and a wall of chairs for the parents.  Here we have age-appropriate Duplo blocks.

The club’s Toddler Area with age-appropriate Duplo Blocks.

The rest of the room has tables and chairs set up and I put a pile of Legos at each table. The entire program lasts 1 1/2 hours but it could easily go longer, I often have to steer kids to the door who just want to add that last piece to their creation.  The program encourages free play and the kids love collaborating on magnificent creations that I take pictures of and post on our Children’s Department’s Facebook page.

The best part about Lego Club is that it fosters new friendships amongst the kids as well as their parents

Despite the large crowds, the program only needs 1 staff member in the room to answer questions, take pictures, and keep an eye out for wandering toddlers.  Set up is easy and at the end of each program the kids and their parents always help clean up the Legos.  We purchased a few new sets of Legos and Duplo blocks with funds from our Friends group but most of the Legos came from library and city staff members whose own kids had simply outgrown them.  You would be amazed at how many of your colleagues have a bucket of Legos in the garage.  Thanks to these generous donations, we have been able to create a cheap and very popular program that not only attracts school-age boys to the library on a Saturday morning (a feat in itself) but it also helps give our circulation statistics a bump after every club meeting.

Two of our Lego Club regulars with their latest creation.

With libraries facing dire budgetary times, starting a Lego Club is a great way to show the community that the library is attuned to its interests and needs while still staying on a budget.

______________________________________________________

Our guest blogger today is Carey Vance, a Children’s librarian at the Burbank Public Library in Burbank, California. Carey can be contacted at cvance@ci.burbank.ca.us.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

4 comments

  1. JH

    Do you have specific projects that they work on or is it all up to their imagination? I love this idea and we have been considering having one of our own. Our concern was the younger children. While we have DUPLO blocks, we never thought of including them in a LEGO club.

    1. Carey V.

      We encourage free play at our Lego Club so the kids make anything they like. It’s a chance for the kids to get creative and just have fun. Having the Duplos in the room in a separate area allows the whole family to come to the club, while still providing a safe alternative for the younger kids. Good luck with your club! I’m sure your patrons will love it, we have gotten nothing but positive feedback from our families.

  2. Jennifer

    We started a Lego Building Club last fall and average 25-50 people, depending on weather. Our first summer meeting hit 65. We started in our program room, which is right next to the children’s play area where there are always Duplos out. However, due to space issues, we had to move to the community room across the library. I haven’t moved over the Duplos b/c our Lego creations go on display and I don’t want the Duplos on display since we use them all the time! All ages are welcomed, but we market primarily to ages 6-12. I try to always put out information about other library programs, Lego books, and sometimes I put out some kind of themed book, like castles or cars, but the kids are generally so eager to get to the Legos they don’t look at them!

    1. Carey V.

      I like the idea of putting what they built on display. That was why I post the pictures of their creations on our facebook page. Kids are so creative, what they build is just so amazing. I had one girl build a replica of The Great Pyramid of Giza with a chamber inside for the sarcophagus, completely out of Legos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.