Young Adult



Tails and Tales Mini-Canvas Art Contest

Smith Library invited adult patrons to enter a Tails and Tales-themed mini-canvas art contest, in keeping with the 2021 Collaborative Summer Library Program theme. All supplies were provided in a "grab n' go" brown bag.

Advanced Planning

Not all of our patrons have the financial wherewithal to purchase art supplies. Our goal was to provide all of our adult patrons with an opportunity to make original art while engaging with our summer reading program theme, Tails and Tales. 

Our one-month exhibit of the completed mini-canvases was to further engage all our patrons with the summer reading programs and the possibilities of art.

I began planning a few weeks before we distributed our 48 "grab n' go" art supply bags. Purchasing, soliciting paint donations, and assembling bags took place during this time.


We promoted the mini-canvas art contest on our Smith Branch monthly calendar, as well as throughout our library system through Communico. All 48 contest bags were taken in a two-day period.


We purchased:

  • 48 mini-canvases for $64
  • 48 small, flat paint brushes for $12
  • 48 precision paint brushes for $13.50
  • $50 gift card to a local art supply store for our first place winner

Acrylic paints were donated, as well as "condiment" cups to deliver the paint.

The $50 gift card was not necessary (though fun to present to the winner). I sensed that patrons would have engaged regardless and enjoyed seeing their finished canvas on display.

Cardstock was donated.

Day-of-event Activity

Patrons were given two weeks to complete their paintings after they picked up their supply bag. After that two-week period, the art was displayed and a local artist came to the branch to judge the works based on the prescribed judging criteria: how well the art represented the Tails and Tales theme; creativity; and originality.

Although wonderful painted canvases were returned for the exhibit/judging, we did not receive 75 percent of the canvases back (our goal return rate.)

Program Execution

Throughout the month of July, the showing of the canvases was quite popular with library visitors. Our county libraries' marketing department also featured the winning canvas and a few others on our library system Facebook page, which was well-liked.

We created a display of art books around the mini-canvas exhibit. These circulated extremely well throughout July.

Feedback was consistent with our own "take" on the event: we should have included teens, who showed much interest. Also, ad hoc feedback from individual patrons indicated that they enjoyed this program and hoped we would bring it back again next year with the 2022 summer reading program theme, Oceans of Possibility.


Many teens expressed an interest in participating. Next time, I will include teen patrons in the contest and perhaps have judging categories based on ages.

Supporting Materials

Slideshow Images