Art Therapy Nights are one of my mainstays in the #LibSocial programming series. Adult coloring has exploded in popularity and I was lucky enough to start offering programs fairly early in the trend. The events are always well attended and, while they require a lot of prep work, the actual events are very easy to run.
I've attended a few coloring nights elsewhere—now that they're so popular, it's not hard to find one in your area on any given week—and it's always the same: attendees are expected to bring their own supplies or even buy supplies on site. As a librarian, that didn't feel very accessible to me, so I always print off activity sheets and have utensils available on the tables for anyone to use. Most attendees use the provided supplies, but some like to bring their own from home, usually if they have a preference for a certain kind of marker or simply just want to finish a color page they started elsewhere. I find all of the activity sheets (adult coloring & extreme dot to dot) online, usually through Pinterest, but do my best to make sure I'm not violating any copyright laws and are respecting the artist's wishes. I try to rotate out designs and use a few topical designs for each program. For example, this month I brought out a handful of superhero-themed and comic art pages to help celebrate Free Comic Book Day, which was the following morning.
I also try to encourage zendoodle and freestyle drawing. On every table, I have small displays in acrylic holders which have zendoodle design ideas on one side and color theory (which colors invoke which moods) on the other. There has been little interest in zendoodle in the past, but I like having options for participants beyond the usual coloring pages.
Prep: Room set-up; snacks; printed coloring sheets; printed dot to dot sheets; blank paper for doodling; zendoodle instruction displays; coloring utensils (markers, colored pencils, crayons)
Cost: Supplies - all of my pages are printed in-house and the coloring utensils were all donated. Librarians may want to invest in their own supplies, but these can be used over and over.
Marketing: rotating graphic on library website, slide on digital screens in library, library-wide eNews, 20s/30s specific eNews, Twitter, Facebook.
- Last time, the evaluations included a suggestion that I arrange the room as one big table instead of small tables. This idea didn't accommodate the number expected (20), so I set up the tables in a large U-shape instead. This did not seem to encourage conversation any more than the original set-up, but it did make the room harder to navigate. I will likely return to the original format for the next program.
- As requested, I did bring a pencil sharpener this time. No one used it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Most new people came because of the 20s/30s specific eNewsletter. Probably one of the best things I've done for the programs.
- Unexpected RA moment: patron asked where he could find more music like the calming instrumentals I was playing in the background.
- Added bonus: One of my regular attendees signed up for a reciprocal borrowing library card because she liked our library/our collection so much and knew she'd be in the area for my programs often!
- Consider reminder calls. I had 20 people signed up, but 7 of them didn't show (I did have one walk-in though).