Etsy, as you might know, is a flourishing online marketplace for independent artists, designers, and antiquers to sell and trade their wares. There are thousands of items in a ton of categories, from zines to custom-made wedding gowns to homemade soap and vintage lunchboxes. It’s not all great–they don’t have a parody site, Regretsy (NSFW), for nothing–but there are some gems. Here are some items available on Etsy that might spruce up your teen section, serve as a great prize for a reading contest, or just suit your own librarian style. And what’s better? Start a conversation with your craftiest patrons about what they’d do with an Etsy storefront, or use your library Pinterest account to pin all of your favorite (or most laughable) Etsy products.

Librarians Dewey It Better badge:
There’s a little bit of pin-up girl in all of us. This patch by user BadgesbyQuake will let you shout that out to anyone who sees your…tote bag?

Build-a-Library Invitation:
Okay, so this isn’t really for the library, but it’s such an adorable idea I couldn’t resist! This is an excellent theme idea by user lilmoptop for a fellow librarian’s baby shower or wedding–or, frankly, any occasion, because who isn’t always building their personal library?

Vintage Children’s Book Mobile:
If you’re looking to spruce up your children’s or teens’ section with something other than the latest READ poster, this mobile by user theshophouse, made up of intricately folded pages from a vintage book, seems like just the thing.

Art Doll Miniatures:
Gah! These handmade dolls by user UneekDollDesigns of famous historical figures and book characters are to die for! If you can spring for a few, you can set them out for themed months or put your own craft hat on and throw them in a diorama you make. With so many options, from Madeleine l’Engle to Walt Whitman, you’ll probably want to buy quite a few more than your wallet will let you.

Author Magnets:
More author goodness! With these handmade magnets by user TurtleDoves, plus maybe some magnetic paint if your director will let you redecorate your section, you can start a “fridge.” Next step: magnetic poetry slams.

Shakespeare and Company print:
Inspire your teens to drink coffee, wear black, and write poetry with this print of Paris’ famed bookstore by user robertcrum. Since he says alternate print sizes are available, I dare one of you to request it wall-sized so it looks like you could just walk in.

Librarian Clipboard:
In case you forgot what your job entails, this clipboard by user Slimdigm will remind you–and it’s customized! Grab one for yourself, your intern, your about-to-retire director, just about anyone with an MLS would get a kick out of this one.

Library Playhouse:
Those of you who divide their time between the teen and children’s section, you’ll go gaga for this library playhouse by user missprettypretty, which fits over a standard-sized card table. With velcro alphabets, play books, and pretend library cards, this is the perfect way for your own kids or your patrons to try being on the other side of the desk. I won’t lie; if I can fit inside, I’m going to.

Lanyard ID Badge Holder:
If you’re required to wear an ID badge, you may as well make a statement. This lanyard, by user SewMuchDetail, is made with you in mind, and features books and bookshelves all along it.

Checkout Card Earrings:
There is no shortage of book- and library-related jewelry to be found, but these earrings might just be my favorite. Made by user ALikelyStory, they’re a retro throwback and a nerd-chic statement.

Youth Involvement:
Given the current job climate, your patrons are probably clamoring for a way to make an extra buck. If you have a patron who publishes her own zine, who collects high-quality vintage clothes, or who makes homemade soap, she should consider opening an Etsy storefront. You do have to be 18 (or have a parent’s permission and oversight), and listing items costs a fee, so it’s not for the hobbyist. That said, if you have a crafter’s club or zine publishing venture through your teen advisory board, maybe you can be the adult and sell their items, the proceeds of which can go to teen advisory group programs or parties. Though it takes a lot of organization and permission-getting, Etsy can be a great way to get a teen with talent to learn about business and to feel empowered.

About Hannah Gómez

School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.

3 Thoughts on “30 Days of Innovation #24: Fun with Etsy

  1. I love the youth involvement part of this, What a great way to get teens thinking about entrepreneurship and the ways in which they can take the skills they have and turn them into a business money making venture. And, since teens have to work with an adult to gain permission to setup a store, it’s a chance to talk about staying safe when online.

    My 30 Days of Innovation post earlier this month took a little bit of a different take on librarians and book themed clothing and accessories. It’s at

  2. Linda, how did I miss that? I just read it, and you make a good point–it’s why I did a bit of an overhaul of my wardrobe before library school, getting rid of about half of my collection of concert tees and such (of course, I type this while wearing a signed Jason Mraz shirt in my office at GSLIS). I would hope that stuff like this from Etsy (as well as, well, EVERYTHING from Etsy) would show that libraries can do more WITH books than just read them, but you also make a good point of how it might turn away teens who aren’t into books. Maybe at some point I’ll do a sequel to this post with other teen-friendly items, haha. I actually didn’t make a lot of these suggestions in total earnest, but more as a way to get people looking at what Etsy products can do to spruce up teen sections in general or to get teens talking about stuff–i.e. lots of the handmade soaps and all can spark a conversation about ecology and going green…

    Okay, now I really want to write a sequel post.

  3. Love the idea of a sequel post and particularly one with conversation about how hand-made products made by teens can spark conversation about a variety of topics. Can’t wait to read it! 😉

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