By Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library-Hollywood
Whilst in the throes of hosting Lego Club mayhem where 4-8 year-olds were building madly, I got pulled out of the program to answer a question from a young teen. She wanted to know where the library clubs were for her. She saw we had the Lego Club for kids, she felt too young and intimidated to join either the Teen Council or Teen Book Council, and Anime Club just wasn’t her thing. She wanted something at the library where she could come make or do things like crafts or maker-type things on a regular basis too. It was a good question.
In the spirit of Connected Learning and responding to the interests of your teens, and knowing the importance of HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, and geeking out), I felt that it was time to seriously considering adding something like this for those teens and tweens that wanted a regular program where they had laid back time with others while doing something with their hands. So I asked the great OYAN brain to see what they were doing, and what sage advice they had to share.
Aimee Meuchel at Tualatin Public Library has a monthly “Make It @ the Library.” Successes in the group have been to “put out a bunch of duct tape and let them go crazy.” She has also gotten different cookies/candies with frosting and had them make monsters. Upcoming she will have them do fusible beads, and jewelry making with beads, embroidery floss, and other items. It is drop-in that runs for 2 hours. She says, “Don’t plan too much. Give them materials and let them create.” Her one thing that didn’t turn out so well was snowglobes.
Lisa Elliott and Jaime Thoreson at the Tigard Public Library do a teen “Random” club every summer at the library. This summer they are doing a Fandom Club where crafts will be integrated. They meet every week for a two-hour stretch for 5-6 weeks. Things that they have done in the past include mustache crafts, mini-polymer food charms, goth socks, doodle bots, washi tape, “neon” signs, wire rings and pendants, buttons, and book making.
Lisa says that
“The consistency is great to bring in a group of regular kids. Too much structure scared away teens who were not interested in the craft.”
Other advice was,
“Teens especially dig crafts that they will use- things they will wear, give as gifts, etc. We always try to give them something that will feel substantial, not cheap or junky. It can be tricky planning for the full spectrum of teen motor skills, from the still-developing 6th grader to the very meticulous 12th grader. It’s best if you can use a space where they can socialize freely. They will likely come up with something completely different and much more awesome than you had planned.”
Kristy Kemper-Hodge at the Corvallis Public Library has had great success with perler beads (fuse beads) and patterns she’s pulled from Pinterest and printed for the kids. Felties made with felt and embroidery thread have also been a hit. She finds that putting out the same materials each time is a little boring, so she works on trying to offer a variety of projects. She started offering a monthly 1.5 hour crafting program for teens and had a small, regular group who’d come. In effort to draw a bigger crowd she combined the crafting program with gaming (video games and tabletop/board games) and now does it twice a month. Upcoming projects are blackout poetry, turning perler creations into jewelry and keychains, and stenciling.
I haven’t gotten a crafting club going yet, but I have started putting out materials during our monthly Anime Club. We have made Sootballs, valentine’s, buttons, and paper crafts. I have noticed that teens are just a bit more relaxed when there is the option to have something to do with their hands.