Blogger Alexa Newman

Art Programs in the Library: Traditional and High Tech

Arts programs in our schools are perennially  on the chopping block. Too many school districts in the US have had to eliminate or reduce art education.  Some of the cuts are budget related, others are tied to curriculum standards. In a recently published paper, The Brown Center Chalkboard concluded that  … that a substantial increase in arts educational experiences has remarkable impacts on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes.”

My library has picked up the arts mantle and offers a broad range of art programs for people of all ages.  We offer a variety of programming including in house programming, self directed art in the makerspace, and outsider instruction.


In House Crafts 


The Youth Services Department offers drop in preschool crafts every few weeks where families can bring their preschoolers to make a variety of crafts at their own pace.

 We also host recurring programs including school age Crafternoons, and one time events such as the family pumpkin painting program we held this past weekend.

Another upcoming program is a Craft Swap, where patrons can bring craft supplies they no longer want or need and swap them for new to them supplies.

Several talented staff members design crafts for in house programs and for programming librarians to distribute at outreach events.  

My library also has two makerspaces: a Creation Center, which is the youth services department’s makerspace; and the Makerspace, which is the Young Adult and Adult Services space.

Art/Maker programs we have offered in the Creation Center include:

  • 3D printing
  • Silhouette printer
  • 3D pen
  • Sewing

In our Makerspace  (which kids are allowed to use with adult supervision) we have all kinds of art / craft / maker equipment including

  • Laser cutter
  • Cricut
  • Sewing machines
  • CNC mill machine

Outside artists

We strive to bring in specialized artists to help expand our patrons exposure to different art techniques.

Last night, cartoonist Mark Anderson of Andertoons offered a program calledfor students in 3rd-8th grade.  – he merges traditional drawing techniques with technology in his Cartoon Monsters program. The kids drew cartoon monsters on paper.  Anderson used a stylus to instruct and draw on a tablet. At the end he used technology to insert the kids drawings into a cartoon scene and the monsters chased a bunny around the screen.

Next month, Young Rembrandts will coming to the library for a field trip lesson  Young Rembrandts brings art instruction to the library and schools.  We have them come

quarterly to teach a lesson on a particular artist or drawing technique.  This program is very popular, especially with the parents, because we offer it for free.  Young Rembrandts teach in after school programs in many schools districts in the Chicago area.


  1. Carol Simon Levin

    It is sad that schools are eliminating the arts amid budget cuts and the pressure from “no child left untested.” I am now retired but for many years, I ran an after-school program at my library called “Picture This.” Without a lot of expensive materials, we were able to encourage art appreciation & creativity. I was particularly pleased that our multi-age format (generally K-5th grade) encouraged cooperative exploration and that younger students seemed to bring out the experiential creativity of the older ones! Information on our program can be found on my blog: You can search the “labels” column for individual artists or browse through the programs at where you will also find a link to the slide show I presented at the NJLA conference.

  2. marry cotson

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