North Region Libraries Show Patrons How-To

You’ve probably witnessed it, even if you’re not familiar with the acronym. The endurance of the Do-It-Yourself movement, or DIY, would seem to indicate some disenchantment with consumer society or a need for us ultra-moderns to return to a more intimate connection to the “simple life”—the proliferation of home improvement and interior decorating shows can attest easily enough to that. There seems to be something engaging about being a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades.

But maybe I’m overstating the case.

To back off the panoramic view for a moment, whether Allegheny County, Pennsylvania’s North Region Libraries’ “How To @ Your Library” is symptomatic of some societal longing or not, it still seems to be the mysterious and long overdue answer to Angela Hanshaw’s My Programming Wish List, which prophetically lists knitting circles, foreign language lessons, and, of course, DIY workshops as particularly desirable library programs—all of which are programs that made the “How To @ Your Library” roster.

Although meeting with cute koalas and penguins didn’t make the North Region Libraries’ lineup (sorry, Angela), here’re a few programs alongside lessons in transplanting potted plants and learning American Sign Language the Libraries have planned that seem particularly interesting:

  • Northern Tier Regional Library will host a session on “How to Hoopnotica”—the low-impact, high-cardio, intensely fun workout using, yes, a hula hoop. Also of interest is Northern Tier’s proposed session “How to Play the Flute” (the library does not indicate whether or not hula-hooping and fluting are skills that may be acquired or practiced simultaneously).
  • Northland Public Library’s offerings include woodworking, exercises to improve your posture, lessons in Zentangle—the  no-artistic-talent-required drawing class for relieving stress—and, the cleverly titled “L’arn to Plarn,” teaching participants how to repurpose plastic sacks for use as yarn in crocheting and other crafting projects (don’t worry, I didn’t know what it meant, either).
  • Sewickley Public Library’s Saturday schedule includes sessions in fairy houses (they note this program is, unfortunately, intended for a younger audience only), unicycling, and candy wrapper crafting, as well as crash courses in crafting basement brews, filling out your family pedigree, and concocting fizzy bath bombs.
  • And, finally, Shaler North Hills Library plans to teach teens how to make candy sushi and give demonstrations in both watercolor painting and Black ’n Gold hair extensions. And—my personal favorite, as a former poultry hobbyist in my grade school days—“How to Raise Chickens,” and how to do so, interestingly enough, within a suburban context. (Before nesting this final session in your own library’s programming, you might want to find out if your city allies with backyard birds; mine does, I’m surprised to find, although I’m fairly certain my landlady and the other tenants wouldn’t appreciate fertilizer on the back patio.)

To see the full list of sessions planned for “How To @ Your Library,” visit the How To @ Your Library website.

To answer my own question, learning carpentry or a musical instrument is probably less like a false sense of nostalgia and more like curiosity—curiosity that, as corny as it may sound, was caught from reading books like the Little House on the Prairie series and wanting to do something different, like learn to sew or make our own soap. It’s fun, after all, to learn new things, and while changes in information availability and society in general have altered, put simply, What We Do and How We Do It, the library is still situated as that unique place that allows us to both read about cool stuff and, through creative programming, get a chance to do that cool stuff.