30 Days of Innovation #11: Incorporate Teen Art into Your Space

As a part of redesigning the teen space at my library we were looking for a way to partition off some space without building an actual wall.  We thought about moving bookshelves, we daydreamed about sound proof glass, but nothing seemed feasible.  Until my director came up with an idea: what about movable partitions that you can hang things on?  Where would they go? Wherever we wanted. We could reserve the right to change our minds whenever we liked.  What would we hang on them? Colored paper? Teen programming information? We settled on sketchbooks, figuring that would make it easy for content to change.

At first patrons weren’t sure what to do with them, but after I got some of my regular teens to start drawing on them, they began to catch on. Later, I added a sign that says:

“Teens! Want to draw?
1. Grab a sketchbook
2. Draw a picture
3. Hang it back up
Need some art supplies? Borrow some at the Circulation Desk.
<3, your librarian, Erin”

After that the art really started to take off. Mostly manga style, often just in plain pencil, but sometimes in bright colors, the teens have been making these blank pages their own. Now almost every day I come in to find new art.

 

The Art Wall, as we’ve come to call it, is part passive program, part art installation, part wall, and always eye-catching. Seeing art from their peers and being invited to contribute their own really draws teens in and helps them to feel a sense of ownership of their space.

You don’t need a whole wall to incorporate teen art into your space.  Start small by displaying  some pieces from teens you know.  Create a gallery on a window, or as part of a book display or teen info bulletin board.  Leave a communal sketchbook on a table, prop one up on an easel,  or find a creative way to hang one where teens will see it.  None of your regulars like to draw? No problem. Invite them to display a poem, or make a collage.  Having teen participate in the decor of their space is the important bit–the particulars are up to you.

4 thoughts on “30 Days of Innovation #11: Incorporate Teen Art into Your Space

  1. Great idea! Do you ever have a problem with teens complaining their art isn’t displayed long enough? For instance, a teen draws something and shortly after another teen comes in and chooses that sketch pad to draw on?

  2. Sometimes teens complain if someone else draws on or writes on something they drew. I explain to them that it is a public installation so sometimes things might happen that they won’t like. We should of course be respectful of other people’s drawings, but the best thing they can do is turn the page and draw something new. This seems to work.

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