Friday, April 25, 2014

Project in a Box: Blackout Poetry

Librarian-students all had a chance to create/report out a program they developed as a final project. Each considered the goals of the program, format (active, passive), how much time/money it might take and described how it was or would be done. Kelly from WI shared this idea.

In the Children’s Area, I have puzzles, crafts, blocks, and AWE computers for children to play with any time they visit the library but there is nothing equivalent in the teen area.  We have created a comfortable space for them.

I got the idea of a “program in a box” from ALA's Programming Librarian.  Teens check out a box with a crafty project  to make in the library. My take on the idea is having a “Project in a Box” that contains instructions and supplies in the teen area. Each month I change out the project.  This makes a simple, passive DIY solution to lack of programming for tweens and teens. The actual target age range is 11-16.

April is National Poetry Month. Teens are drawn to the poetry. Novels-in-verse, like Crank by Ellen Hopkins, are popular. Blackout poetry was a suggested as simple and inexpensive program that I learned about at a workshop and was mentioned on Programming Librarian blog. This would be the first project for “Project in a Box”. A display of poetry books and novels-in-verse along with a book list will also be set up in the teen area. If teens want, they can give their finished project to staff and we would display it in the teen area.

The cost and staffing is minimal. I am using pages from discarded library books and rejects from the Friends book sale. Pens, pencils, and markers are the only other supply needed which the Library has plenty. Prep time would be an hour. During quiet times, Library Assistants can tear apart the books. I would rather have loose pages in the project box than books the kids would have to tear apart themselves. This would cut down on mess and any confusion on which books can be used for blackout poetry.  I would also add an hour of staff time for creating a display and a book list of poetry books.

The Blackout poetry program is not completely passive. I am planning it as an activity for my Teen Advisory Board and as part of an outreach visit to the Youth Center. This would add 1.5 more hours of staff time but those hours were already in my schedule. A couple of months ago I started a Teen Advisory Board. They loved the idea of blackout poetry. For our April meeting, they will be creating their own blackout poetry that I will use as examples for the project box.

Since blackout poetry is very portable, I am also planning it as part of a 45 minute outreach visit to the Youth Center to promote National Poetry Month and the new monthly “Project in a Box” program. At the visit, I would book talk poetry books and novels-in-verse. I would get the teens started on doing blackout poetry. As I’ve done in the past, I would leave supplies at the Center. Then the teens can hang out and do the project at a leisurely pace. Teens that want their work displayed at Library could bring them to us or I could pick them up.

Blackout poetry is the kickoff of my “Project in a Box” passive DIY program. Future projects would be similar. Simple and inexpensive but lots of room for creativity. Ideas for future projects include origami, duct tape wallets, friendship bracelets, and popsicle stick bookmarks.

Image from South Kingstown Public Library, Rhode Island

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