Student Created Artwork

By Lori Bornn

The topic I would propose is creating artwork for the library that illustrates titles from various genres within the school library collection. The artwork would be created by students within the school and posted on the walls to add visual appeal and to make the library more interesting. I recall my own high school library as being very visually bland and would have found this a creative outlet. Additionally, I would have felt that I really had input into the library; that the library was representative of me as a user. The boys [I interviewed] expressed interest in this type of activity and they are not alone in that interest (Wigg 107; Wilson and Kimzey 35).

Students would create art, using materials provided by the library or school, based upon readings that are interesting to them. That would serve to generate a range of ideas and a various art works encompassing science fiction, romance, how-to books, biographies, mysteries - the possibilities are unlimited. To generate enthusiasm for the possibilities, I would also suggest creating displays related to various art mediums that would be used to create the art work: marker, pencil, collage, paint, cartoon, photography, etc. including the tools of the medium, an example of the medium, and the location of related information within the collection. (American Library Association 17; Byczek and Vaillancourt 106; Donelson and Nilsen 305; Wilson and Kimzey 22-23).

As far as time commitments - this activity would require, or at least be enhanced by, preliminary discussion with the school art teacher(s) to solicit their suggestions and/or help, and an initial organizational meeting with teens. I would not intend on making this a mandatory activity, but an activity for interested students to pursue during their study hall period, after-school time, or even during their home evening hours. I would propose a sign-up sheet for students interested in using a study hall time or after-school time to ensure ample work space and materials. I view this as an ongoing activity over the course of a month so that the enthusiasm for the activity does not wane, and so that students can see fairly quick results of their efforts as the art is displayed in the library. I would also consider creating a "steering committee" of interested teens to coordinate art, display art, enlist their peers, to publicize the changes occurring in the library - to handle some of the administrative tasks.

The materials needed would be poster boards or high quality paper; the supplies to create the art: markers, pencils, paints, glue, etc.; the supplies and examples for the art medium displays; and of course, the library collection. Materials will be supplied by the school - perhaps the art teacher would be willing to assist with supplies or at least know of businesses offering discounts to schools for supplies. It would also be helpful to solicit art students within the school to assist with the displays, perhaps showcasing some of their own work in the various mediums. Work space also needs to be considered. The library can be the workspace, though some of the "messier" art mediums (such as paint) may need to have a work space created away from the books, in a separate section of the library, or in an art classroom.

At the conclusion of the activity, I publicity would be needed, designed with the help of the students, such as an announcement to be read in classrooms, posters or banners to be displayed, an article for the school newspaper, or even a yearbook photograph (Wilson and Kimzey 31). The goal of the publicity would be to entice students to come to the library to take a look at the work of their friends and to "discover" the library. To acknowledge the efforts of all students contributing time and effort, I would conduct an informal after-school reception (with food!) to highlight the "official opening". Faculty and students would also be invited to share in the students' accomplishments.

To evaluate the success of the activity I would refer back to objectives created with the teens during initial conversations. Criteria for success may be that art was created and the library visually enhanced; students participated in the activity; students came to the library to view the art; and books represented by the artwork experienced greater circulation. I would also propose the creation of a survey to get feedback on the display from students, including any ideas for make the activity better or to solicit ideas for future activities.

The overall goal is to give the students a reason to come to the library. "If young adults don't have a reason to come to the library, if they don't find that their needs are met, then they won't come - and we may have lost them forever." (Nord 346). This is a place to start.

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This page last updated May 11, 2001
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