Harry Potter/Star Wars FandomShadow box program

So continuing on previous posts about shadow box craftiness. I fell in love with some of the amazing shadow boxes that are available on Pintrest and Etsy.

I loved the different textures and three different levels.


So taking foam board, if you need a cheaper option you can take cardboard and then wrap it in a colored paper. and creating the frame and box for the craft to sit in.  I created a pattern and I had a teen volunteer cut out enough supplies for 12 kids which covers usual attendance for a craft program during the school year.

I also started searching for images that I could use and divide into three levels

for instance for the star wars shadow box i found this image

I printed off two colored pages of this image.

the first became the bottom level which was the whole image and glued that to the frame.then I pasted just the x-wing on foam board and cut it out carefully with a craft knife and then pasted it on top of the x-wing on the image which was just now the bottom of the frame.


3. I then found a image of an x-wing cockpit for the top layer and cropped it to the proper size, and cut away the space part of the image.

this created a 3 layer image that visually is more immersive and fun to look at from different angles.


This are hardly something I’d sell on pintrest but it’s doable craft and kids are able to bring something home that’s unique and they are fun to do.

I then created 3 more templates a batman and two harry potters. For the two harry potter ones I Used printable transparency sheets for the top layer.


these were the four i created.

What you need for the program.

  1. Foam board or Cardboard
  2. Hot glue gun
  3. glue sticks
  4. Craft Knives
  5. Transparency sheets (optional
  6. Printable sheets.

Overall the program went well and the teens enjoyed doing the harry potter shadow boxes the most.

Where’s Your Stuff? Personal Items and Space at Work


Whether it’s a cubby, a locker, a drawer, a closet, a corner, a workstation, or an actual office – it’s important for employees to have a place to keep their personal stuff at work. And unless you are a member of a cult that requires you to rid yourself of all worldly possessions, you probably have certain items you like to keep at work. Even cult members need chapstick and hand lotion. Probably.

If you are among the lucky few who have an office, this isn’t really an issue for you personally. I am lucky to have my own office and I really could not get all my work done without that space to keep my stuff and with a door to close when I need to. It’s pretty small, but it’s mine. And I don’t know if it’s because I am too materialistic, but I like to be surrounded by my stuff! I like to have my chapstick on my desk. I like to have my phone charger plugged in. I like having healthy snacks in my desk drawer, and plastic silverware, and my coffee mug. And I love to have photos of my daughter, things kids and teens have given me, and POP figures, of course.

Our library was re-done about 12 years ago before I started working there. While the design is lovely, the functionality is somewhat lacking. In the Children’s Room, where my office is, the circulation desk is pretty small and has limited storage. My staff understandably wanted to keep their personal items near them and since there was no place designated for this on our floor, we tried different things:

  • the random storage closet across the room that wasn’t insulated and had no light
  • file cabinets in the storytime room (it’s cool, we can just store the paper on the floor)
  • cabinets behind the circ desk (difficult because of limited storage space)
  • my office (didn’t work out so well)
  • under the workstations at the circ desk (great entertainment when a coworker trips on someone’s purse handle)

I ended up finding a set of 4 lockers for sale online ($30.00!) and put it in the Storytime Room. I had a teen volunteer spraypaint them (outside, of course.) These work pretty well for my staff, and they can lock them so curious program attendees can’t open them. They are big enough to keep a lightweight jacket and other items, plus they can be decorated just like in middle school! I also still have a shelf in one of our very few cabinets behind the circ desk for staff to keep a small purse or other items while they are at the desk. I have asked staff to remove personal items from the workstations and the counter behind the circ desk. It looks much better and is easier to keep clean and organized. Our lack of cabinets with doors means that many things are out in the open and it doesn’t take much to look disorganized. I have also been attempting to clean out my office a bit. While it does contain personal items, the majority of stuff belongs to the library and sometimes it becomes a depository for “things we want to keep but don’t know where to put yet.” It’s a work in progress.

How do you handle personal item storage at your library? Do you have your own office? Shared office space? Let me know in the comments!

Library Comic-Cons: What’s Next?

Last month, I talked about our initial plans to do a comic-con and how they’re coming to fruition at my library. This month, I want to talk about what we’ve done since,  what our next steps are and talk a bit more about elevator pitches on why comic-cons in libraries match libraries’ missions so you can try and sell your own staff on the idea.

What we’ve done since:

We haven’t picked a date yet because a couple of us who are doing the main part of the planning are waiting on vacation dates to make sure they don’t overlap with the con. But I did do a mocked of our schedule, with some room for variables because we’re getting a few outside people to do activities. I then sent it out to the rest of the planners to make sure I wasn’t missing anything of critical importance. Our in-person meeting had been used to figure out what spaces we were going to use and what we were going to keep for just everyday library users. We don’t have a lot of big spaces for events so I had to plan carefully.

Initially, we’d though 10-3 on a Saturday, but the timing breakdown made more sense to go until 4. Here’s my breakdown (very much subject to change):

As you can see, I’ve broken things into 90 minute chunks. We decided our library wouldn’t be into a cosplay contest, at least not the first year, so instead we’re doing a Costume Parade around the library during a break. Our craft ideas are all revolving around the idea of letting people of all ages create things to then use in the parade. Our Program Room is small but just big enough for maybe 15 people for a drawing class or a Cosplay program. We don’t have much outdoor space but we do have a fairly large plaza that we want to utilize if it’s not raining. Having the Costume Parade when we do also gives us, as staff, time to reset rooms for different events without losing people. Our focus was on trying to have enough activities that people would want to stay, if not the whole day, then at least a hefty portion of the day.

What’s Next:

Our next step is to pick a date. I’m hoping to have that finalized in the next week or two. Then we need to book someone for our Cosplay & Make Up 101 and our Drawing classes, plus the balloon person. Then we can also talk to our Friends group about snacks, reach out to the cosplay groups and more.

After that, it’ll be a matter of starting to mock up publicity leading up to the event. We’ll also want a schedule of events the day of with locations, just like a real con. We’ll also need to determine what kind of swag or other materials we might want to have to make us seem as official as possible.

Why do a comic-con in a library? Elevator Pitch style

This could probably be a post unto itself (and maybe it will be) but here’s the 101 on why comic-cons in libraries and why it aligns to mission statements.

Most libraries have something in their mission statement about ‘freedom of information’ or ‘providing no cost’ or something about providing access to things for free. For those not in the know, comic-cons are expensive. Massively expensive. I’d say an average per day is at least $60, maybe a bit less if you’re going to a smaller less well known con. And yes, granted, your library probably won’t be getting any huge names but it’s the intent behind the con. The access. You’re offering a fan experience for people for free that they would normally pay through the nose for. It’s one of the reason that for at least this first year, we want absolutely everything to be free (with the small exception of snacks, but people can also bring their own snacks or picnic on our lawn). If we do do booths, everything must be free giveaways.

How can we provide access to something similar that has the same feel for free? Cons are incredibly popular right now. I’m in the Boston area and we have quite a few (Boston Comic-con, PAX East, Anime Boston, etc.) as do most cities. But where I grew up? There was nothing. Having a comic-con there would be allowing not only access for free but access at all! Most people can’t travel and pay for all of that related costs (food, travel, etc.). Have a place for teens (and all ages) to celebrate all things geeky and nerdy in a safe space where they might not otherwise get that chance. Teenage me would’ve killed for the chance.

Fiction & Nonfiction Pairs

FIction and Nonfiction Pairs


In the high school library where I work, it can be difficult to get students to read nonfiction. One of the ways I like to promote it is to do a display in which I pair high-interest nonfiction titles with a novel about the same topic. Today I want to share a few pairs with you in case you too are looking for ways to promote nonfiction to your teen patrons.

TW: Books about sexual assault are mentioned. 


Stories about World War II


FICTION: Front Lines by Michael Grant: When a court decision allows women to be drafted and serve their American country in battle, three girl soldiers head to the front lines to take on Nazi Germany and save the world as we know it. Struggling with love, war, and their ultimate purpose, they do their duty. One fights to honor a fallen sister. One fights to support her family. One fights to make the Germans pay. None of them will leave this war the same. –WorldCat

NONFICTION: A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II by Elizabeth Wein: Documents the heroic contributions of Soviet airwomen during World War II, examining the formation, obstacles, missions and enduring legacy of Russia’s three female combat pilot regiments. –NoveList


FICTION: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed: Three misfit girls come together to avenge the rape of a girl none of them knew and in the process start a movement that transforms the lives of everyone around them. –NoveList

NONFICTION: I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope by Chessy Prout: The memoir of a young survivor of a sexual assault when she was a freshman in a prestigious boarding school shares her story of survival, advocacy, and hope. –NoveList

Stories about football


FICTION: Game Change by Joseph Monninger: 17-year-old Zeb Holloway is an ordinary kid living in an ordinary town in rural New Hampshire. Sure, he’s a quarterback on his high school’s undefeated football team, but he’s second-string and he never plays. Why would the coach play Zeb when T.T. Munroe’s around? T.T.’s a walking, talking highlight reel. That is until he’s injured one week before the state championship game. –NoveList

NONFICTION: Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin: A great American sport and Native American history come together in this true story of how Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner created the legendary Carlisle Indians football team. –NoveList

Stories about race relations


FICTION: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely: When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn’s alternating viewpoints. –NoveList

NONFICTION: We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson: From the end of the Civil War to the tumultuous issues in America today, an acclaimed historian reframes the conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America. –NoveList

Stories about fandom


FICTION: The Fandom by Anna Day: When a freak accident at Comic-Con sends Violet and her friends into the world of their beloved series, “The Gallow Dance,” she is forced to play out the plot as written, but her appearance in the story sends ripples throughout the world. –NoveList

NONFICTION: Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidders, Gamers, Artists, and Cosplayers by Francesca DiPiazza: Examines the history of fandoms, introducing writers, video-makers, artists, costumers, and gamers who celebrate and shape the fan communities online and in real life. –NoveList

Stories about immigration


FICTION: The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah: Michael’s parents are leaders of a new anti-immigrant political party called Aussie Values which is trying to halt the flood of refugees from the Middle East; Mina fled Afghanistan with her family ten years ago, and just wants to concentrate on fitting in and getting into college–but the mutual attraction they feel demands that they come to terms with their family’s concerns and decide where they stand in the ugly anti-Muslim politics of the time. –WorldCat

NONFICTION: We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults by Susan Kuklin: Meet nine courageous young adults who have lived in the United States with a secret for much of their lives: they are not U.S. citizens. They came from Colombia, Mexico, Ghana, Independent Samoa, and Korea. They came seeking education, fleeing violence, and escaping poverty. All have heartbreaking and hopeful stories about leaving their homelands and starting a new life in America. And all are weary of living in the shadows. –NoveList

Stories about technology


FICTION: Rabbit & Robot by Andrew Smith: Stranded aboard the lunar cruise ship Tennessee, Cager Messer and his best friend, Billy, both sixteen, are surrounded by insane robots while watching thirty simultaneous wars turn Earth into a toxic wasteland. –NoveList

NONFICTION: Artificial Intelligence: Building Smarter Machines by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson: This book discusses artificial intelligence (AI) including drones, robots, and computers handling tasks that once only humans could perform. There is also a section analyzing the questions of whether computers can really think and develop self-awareness. –WorldCat

Stories about gaming


FICTION: Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller: After the newest set of virtual reality gear hits the market, Simon can’t wait to test it out. But, when his friend Katherine suddenly disappears after being seen with men from the same gaming company, Simon must decide how far in the game he’s willing to go to save her. –NoveList

NONFICTION: Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser: After the newest set of virtual reality gear hits the market, Simon can’t wait to test it out. But, when his friend Katherine suddenly disappears after being seen with men from the same gaming company, Simon must decide how far in the game he’s willing to go to save her. –NoveList

What topics are popular with teens in your library? What fiction/nonfiction pairs would you display together?

Dot Painting Totes

While originally did this craft because I myself am just a huge fan of tote bags and think that everyone should have at least one tote for their library books, things now are a little different. If, like me, you live in NY state, then you may be aware that a law just passed making single use plastic bags illegal. This means we have to bring our own bags when we go to stores. Even if you don’t live in NY or someplace where this law (or a similar one) exists, you may want to consider this craft for your teens. After all, who doesn’t love an adorable tote?

Back in 2017 I attended an adult craft night where we dot painted totes. While participating, I not only had fun but thought it was a great way to go about painting something other than the traditional manner. I also thought it would be something that the teens would enjoy as well and decided to modify just a little to do with them. What’s great about this program is that it’s fairly simply and does allow for creativity within the steps itself.

What you need:

  • Canvas Tote Bags (whichever size you like)
  • Stencils (store bought and/or homemade)
  • Cardstock and a way of cutting them out if you want to make your own stencils
  • Fabric and/or Arylic Paint
  • A cotton swab or paintbrush (using the handle side)

Prior to the program I used my library’s cricut machine to cut out various stencils. I found silhouettes of things I thought the teens would be interested in.

These included:

  • A dog
  • A cat
  • A snowflake (I did this in Winter)
  • A dolphin
  • An elephant
  • The Avengers symbol
  • The Superman symbol

I chose to buy fabric paint in squeeze bottles for the teens to help decrease the mess. When I participated in this program as an adult we used acrylic paint and either or cotton swab or the point of the paintbrush handle to make our dots.

When doing dot painting you can choose to either fill in the shape or make dots around the shape with the shape itself empty.

On the day of the program teens choose their stencil and either traced it on or taped it to there totes. They then selected colors and made small dots to outline the selection.They also chose if they were going to dot the inside or around the shape.

Whenever I do a program I often find the teens taking creativity into their own hands. Therefore some teens decide to use the paint to decorate their totes their own way. Some chose to do a solid border for their shape and then dot the inside. Some dot painted their selected shape and added other decorations.Regardless they were all happy with their tote and that is the most important part.