Monday, December 9, 2013

LEGO Club at the Library [Library Programming]

LEGO clubs have been sprouting up at libraries in recent years. They are great programs to attract children of all ages and they are easy to set up. Honestly, it doesn't get much better than that for library staff.

As LEGO clubs became more popular, I entertained the idea of getting one started at my library. After discussion with my manager about logistics and budget, I set to work on getting the word out that we were going to start a LEGO club. The first thing I did was create in-house advertising to solicit donations of LEGOs. Have you looked at the cost of LEGOs? Definitely not library-budget friendly! 

I started the donation campaign in May, right before Summer Reading. Donations slowly trickled in; we'd get a small box here and there, and a few patrons even donated money to purchase LEGOs. The best place I found to use the monetary donations was Ebay - especially for LEGO bases. As summer continued on, the donations steadily increased. I don't have much storage space in our library, and the few months of solicitation racked up enough donations to max out what space I had allocated for our LEGO collection. But I wasn't complaining. From monetary donations, I spent about $75 to enhance our collection through Ebay. Our collection right now includes thousands and thousands of LEGO pieces, the majority through donations from patrons.

TIP: If you're able to, get in contact with someone who sorts through donations at local thrift stores (especially those that run on volunteer efforts). A patron who volunteers at a thrift store near us got word about us looking for LEGO donations, and whenever someone donated LEGOs to the thrift store, she set them aside for the library. Come to find out, the thrift stores in our area won't put donated LEGOs out to sell because the LEGOs are considered a choking hazard. 

Once I gathered all our donations and assessed what we had to work with, I set a date to hold our first meeting of our LEGO club. Once the date rolled around, it was simple to get everything set up. Here was my set up:

Tables and LEGOs equal fun!

The big totes on the floor hold DUPLO-size blocks for little patrons to participate. I put up rules around the room for the children to follow (I borrowed the rules from the Canaan Town Library). I set out various LEGOs at each table in shoe boxes. And that's it! When the children came in, they grabbed at spot at a table and started working on their masterpieces. Many would roam from table to table to borrow pieces and see what the other kids were making. I let everyone build for 50 minutes before asking everyone to help clean up. Once their creations were finished, each participant filled out a slip with their name, age, and title of their creation. I took what each child made, paired it with the respective slip, and placed the creations on display in the main part of the library for all to see. This is an excellent way to get extra publicity for the program. 

We had 20 participants for our first meeting, which is awesome! There were several children I had never seen before at a library program and I love that! I feel like I get into a rut sometimes with programming and starting the LEGO club really inspired me to seek out new ideas. Another thing I love about the ease of hosting a LEGO program is that while I'm on maternity leave, any staff member can run this program. When you're a one-person show in the youth department, that's a big positive. 

Does your library have a LEGO club? Tell me about it!

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