13 September 2021
Craft kit bag and contents

…watercolor bookmark, clay pot gnome, beeswax wrap, cactus rock, painted tea towel, clay pot leprechaun hat, framed burlap chick, sock bunny, decoupage trinket tray, bird mason jar, braided bracelet, swirly paper flowers, lip balm tin, tiny herb pot, tulip string art…

Crafts have been a popular offering at the Lisle Library District for many years. Prior to the pandemic, LLD held monthly family craft programs, adult craft programs, and separate teen craft programs. These events were well-attended with people calling the library as soon as registration opened to make sure to reserve a spot. Like many libraries, once the pandemic arrived in 2020, LLD staff had to be creative to continue offering crafting opportunities to patrons without access to our usual in-person programming.

When LLD closed in the early days of the pandemic, Xavier Duran, Adult Programming Coordinator, and Noelle Spicher, Adult and Teen Focus Librarian, quickly pivoted to producing crafting videos that used materials most people had at home, such as empty milk cartons, old socks, rice, and scissors. Once the librarians were back in the library, the planning began to find additional ways to provide crafting opportunities given the changed circumstances. The planning period resulted in the following options:

Family Craft Outdoor Program

In the summer and fall of 2020 and again in 2021, LLD offered twice monthly Outdoor Family Craft Night, facilitated by Adult and Youth Services staff, with each family at their own table and tables spaced safely apart. All supplies, including brushes and glue, are considered one-use and are disposed of after each program to reduce the possibility of contamination.

If the weather is inclement, the program is rescheduled. Some recent family crafts included CD mosaic pots and wind chimes.

Take and Make Craft Kits

Although indoor library craft programs have not yet resumed, adult and teen crafting opportunities have continued, beginning with the first take-home craft kits available through curbside pickup while the library was still closed to patrons in early 2020. LLD began offering 25 kits per week that patrons could sign up for through the online calendar. Once the library reopened its doors in July 2020, patrons had the option of picking up kits in the library or through curbside pickup. Craft kit procedures include:

  • Xavier and Noelle share a Google Doc with a list of upcoming crafts. The librarians rely on social media, especially Pinterest, for craft ideas, and they also view other libraries’ craft offerings to spot any trends.
  • Once the craft for a given week is determined, a list of supplies is made and purchased through Amazon, local craft stores, and dollar stores. Work then begins assembling the kits, including dividing paint into small plastic containers with lids and filling small brown shopping bags or branded plastic bags with each component of the kit. 
  • A prototype of the craft is made which helps ensure that the craft works (paint adheres, etc.). An image of the completed craft is posted in the online calendar and on social media so that patrons can see what they will be making.

According to Noelle, “While it may seem a trivial service during such a time of upheaval, these craft kits can be a nice escape from reality for a moment.” When asked about his best craft experience Xavier stated that, “[it] comes in the form of in-person crafts when you get to see the fruits of your labor enjoyed. The gymnastic-level of managing your time to get crafts ready flourishes into these really human moments of joy.”

Noelle also points out that many people are seeking creative outlets and that crafting can provide an opportunity for artistic expression, whether in-person or via a take-home kit. Also, after spending so much time online, using screens for work or meetings, people may seek to de-stress with a hands-on activity like crafting. After developing new options to provide this service during the pandemic, craft kits and crafting programs continue to be well-received and appreciated by the LLD community.