Getting crafty at the library: Librarian Cindy Christy helps grow adult programming with craft classes at Hamilton East

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Hamilton East Librarian Cindy Christy helps students during a craft class. (Photo by Sadie Hunter)

By Sadie Hunter

 

It’s no secret modern-day libraries offer more than just books. But in the past two years, Hamilton East Public Library in Noblesville has seen an increase in participation in its adult services department, particularly with its free, monthly crafting classes.

Cindy Christy, right, helps Nancy Conner of Noblesville with her project. (Photos by Sadie Hunter)

Reference Desk Librarian Cindy Christy is in charge of each month’s “Craft Night at the Library” event, something she never guessed she’d be doing.

“When I was hired in March 2014, I didn’t have any intention of doing craft classes at all,” Christy said. “My manager had started them just a month or so before he hired me, and when he hired me, he said one of his goals was to increase adult programming.”

Christy was then asked to teach classes for adults, and crafting classes began the same month she was hired, although they weren’t conducted as often as they are today.

“I didn’t want to start with anything really heavy, so I asked a friend of mine to do a class on how to make a T-shirt quilt,” she said. “And then I thought I would have a chance to go around and ask the people that came what types of classes they would like for the library to offer.”

Christy said she was surprised to find that all 43 members who came to class said they wanted more arts and craft classes.

“I had no craft experience, and I’m not a crafty person,” Christy said. “When my kids were little and needed homework help, they came to me, but if they had to create some sort of art project, they went to my husband. I’ve just never really been crafty. So it was stressful, but I thought this is what people want, and I spent a lot of time looking at YouTube videos and Pinterest.”

From there, she began scheduling classes sporadically through the rest of 2014 and into  2015.

“Every time I would put a craft on the calendar, I would just be stunned at how many people would sign up,” Christy said “There would actually be waiting lists.”

Because of their popularity, when it came time to begin scheduling classes for 2016, at least one took place per month. In 2015, 345 people attended the classes. The following year, 1,053 people took part.

Classes offered last year included creating wreaths, terrariums, centerpieces and crafts particular to holidays. Special events were conducted throughout the year.

Now, Christy is planning to continue and grow each event’s turnout throughout 2017. She said class length and size depends on the project. Last year’s largest class had 87 participants making making holiday terrariums in December.

“A lot of people say they’d pay to take these classes because they walk away with something,” Christy said. “We really strongly believe in not charging for the classes because we know there are people in Noblesville who can afford to pay, but some can’t. I don’t ever want to put people in a position where they’d just stay home.”

In addition to being free and all supplies provided, Christy said classes are a great opportunity for friends to get together to socialize.

“What they like about coming to the library is, not only is it free – you know, they’re not spending $40 or $50 on dinner – and they have something they can take away, but they’re also meeting new people,” she said. “Students have made the point. Think about the last time you went to a restaurant. Did you meet anyone new? In the class, people start talking to people that they would have never met otherwise. They’ve been formulating friendships.

“To me, it’s just so cool to be the place that people think of when they want to go somewhere to have fun or socialize. They don’t just think of us anymore as the place they’re going to go to check out a book or rent a movie.”

Because classes fill quickly, registration opens on the first day of the month prior to the date of the class. For example, those interested can register for March’s craft class beginning Feb. 1.

Upcoming projects have not been finalized, but there will be an Earth Day craft, “Plants for the Planet,” in April and a Mother’s Day craft in May.

For more, contact Christy at christyc@hepl.lib.in.us.

Examples of the crafts from January and February.

GO TO THE NEXT CLASS

Make It/Take It: Crazy Little Thing Called Love

What: Over two evenings, guests of this free class will make yarn art on a wood base with small nails for Valentine’s Day. Guests will need to attend both nights to leave with a completed project. Bring a hammer.

When: 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 and Feb. 9

Where: Hamilton East Public Library, 1 Library Plaza, Noblesville

Register: Registration is required by visiting hepl.lib.in.us or calling 317-773-1384.

SEASONED CITIZENS

In addition to directing the “Craft Night at the Library” classes, Cindy Christy also is in charge of the HEPL’s Seasoned Citizens club, which specializes in programming for senior citizens in the community.

“(Senior citizens) are a very overlooked segment of the community, and I feel like the reason is because they don’t have a lot of disposable income,” Christy said. “There are a lot of businesses that because of that, they don’t really target them in any way. It’s just awful. Isn’t it terrible that we live in a society where your value as a person may be determined by how much disposable income you have?”

Upcoming Seasoned Citizens events include:

Classic Movie Matinee

What: Open to those age 50 and older, this event will feature a movie musical. Popcorn and drinks will be provided free.

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 13, March 13 and April 10.

Where: Hamilton East Public Library, 1 Library Plaza, Noblesville.

Register: Registration is required by visiting hepl.lib.in.us or calling 317-773-1384.

Bingo

What: A gift card will be awarded to the winner of each round of bingo. The event is free, and participation is limited to those age 50 and older.

When: 2 to 3 p.m. Jan. 30, Feb. 27, March 27, April 17 and April 24.

Where: Hamilton East Public Library, 1 Library Plaza, Noblesville.

Register: Registration is required by visiting hepl.lib.in.us or calling 317-773-1384.

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