When the library closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew that I wanted to interact with patrons in ways that aren’t completely digital or Zoom-based. When the library is open, I organize craft classes, which are especially popular during the summer months. I decided to continue these classes from home.
I needed a way to get supplies to patrons. These "to-go bags" contain all the craft materials they might not have at home, allowing for our library to continue teaching and connecting with them. It’s the closest we can get to our summer in-person programming during this time.
We plan to distribute the bags in early June. I expect for this project to be a crossover between adult and teen participation.
First, I put a plan together of what crafts I wanted to put into the bag. I knew the crafts had to be economical and the materials needed to be small enough to fit into the tote. While the crafts aren't difficult, they aren’t too easy either. I like to push our patrons to try new things. The crafts I chose for this are all craft projects I have taught before. I didn’t want to add anything new to the mix so as not to make it more confusing for myself and others.
Once I got the plan down for what crafts I would be doing, the next step was to film six videos. Each video  corresponds to one of the crafts, so it’s like I’m there teaching them directly. Each tote will include a print calendar with the craft info, times and links. The links direct patrons to the videos so they can simply type them in when the day comes, and they can reach the videos right away. Videos will be uploaded prior to the dates.
Since we are starting our summer reading program on June 15, I'll be distributing the bags one or two weeks before that date. We will take sign-ups by phone and online so people can reserve their bag as supplies last. We have 200 bags with supplies, which is more than our usual sign-up for adults, but since I'm offering to interested teens, I upped the number.
Materials in the plain canvas tote bag (the tote bag is a craft in itself!): watercolor paints, stencils, watercolor palettes, graphite paper, air drying clay, beads and beading string, multicolored paper. All materials are purchased from Amazon or are already owned by our library.
Many of our patrons are older so we put an ad in the local paper and we sent out fliers to local retirement communities.
The total came out to be $3.25 per bag. The plain canvas totes were the biggest expense at $1.20 per tote.
The craft dates will be as follows with additional programming in between such as digital escape rooms and trivia.
- June 18: Decorate Your Tote Bag (we'll be using Mandala and Zentangle designs)
- July 2: Paper Flowers
- July 16: Watercolor Poppies
- July 30: Clay Jewelry Bowls
- August 6: Simple Bead Bracelets using Lava Beads & Agate Beads
- August 13: Watercolor Art
We're still waiting on additional information from our state governor and mayor of Liberty Lake, so I'm not sure if our library will be partially open or curbside only in early June. We'll adjust depending on those parameters. For now, the bags will be available for curbside pickup at the library for one week.
Bags will be assembled by one or two staff members wearing gloves and a mask. Bags will be left alone and quarantined for a few days, and all materials inside are pre-packaged.
The biggest thing is to plan crafts that you already know how to do! Do crafts that you’ve taught before and that will be easy for you to recreate. You don’t want to plan a brand-new project with crafts you’ve never done before.
I would also recommend going through supplies you already have to make it even more cost-effective.
About This Library
Liberty Lake (Wash.) Library  provides resources, opportunities, experiences and services to inspire, entertain and empower the community to connect, learn and grow.