Art as transformation

So in my first post of this revamped blog I was in decluttering and New Year’s Resolution mode. This has settled, but not disappeared, I’ve continued to assess what we have and what we need, and it has become quite calming.

My New Year’s Resolution was to try and develop my art skills, specially drawing and watercolour painting. For most of my life I believed I couldn’t do this sort of creative work, I couldn’t draw, my handwriting is atrocious. I can write creatively, I can embroider and sew…but drawing or painting, I believed that to be impossible.

For some reason I came across YouTube channel Makoccino, and her crafts and gentle enthusiasm really inspired me! Armed with this and the support of a few friends I started to dabble. For no reason than just to try – which turns out to be a real key, I’m not trying to be an artist – I won’t make this a career, I’m just trying because I enjoy learning.

As Mako says in one of her wonderful inspiring talks, a pencil has an eraser because mistakes are meant to happen!

Collage 2019-02-07 22_37_26

I followed some of her tutorials and we have my attempts above (first with my 4yo’s play paints, and then we some nice Cotman ones).

I found joy in art and it is so relaxing (also lots of cats!).

So, how does this relate to libraries and other GLAMR? (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums and Records).

Just think, how many times have you heard variations on these statements?

  • We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work
  • We don’t have the skill/capacity/time/etc to try something new
  • This place is to conservative/risk-averse to try…

Cringeworthy. Frustrating. Maddening.

Yes, sometimes they are true, and not all new ideas are valid everywhere. But we need to change our mindset. We need to accept that mistakes are a part of learning and changing. Transforming services to the constantly changing needs of clients is essential to stay relevant.

And many places are doing this and they are doing it so well. But when I saw the latest twitter backlash to the idea of “night libraries” I couldn’t help but think of the above statements.

Of course, such an idea isn’t for every library branch ever. But for some, it could be brilliant. For some communities, it could be essential.

First, remember that most innovative entrepreneurs have actually been working behind the scenes on dozens or even hundreds of iterations of a variety of ideas before they hit their winning one.

Next, allow staff a little time to be creative in their profesional learning. And if what they are learning could work with clients, try some pilots. Ask what other libraries have had success with, share the knowledge.

You know your demographic, maybe expand your book clubs to craft groups. Your exam study kids into holiday pizza and book/movie clubs (big question, do you read the book before or after you watch the movie version!?). Does your library need better social media, what short courses are around that might provide ideas? (I learned about Infographics last year and it has helped my PowerPoint skills!).

And if you are a librarian orphan like me, try infiltrating your skills into your non-library job! Or your hobbies! Share the joy of learning!

And maybe you’ll also transform some antiquated assumptions about libraries along the way!


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