Celebrate Youth Art Month at the Library

paletteMarch is Youth Art Month. Youth Art Month is sponsored by the Council for Art Education. The goal of Youth Art Month is to “emphasize the value of art education for all youth.”

The Council for Art Education suggests that libraries can get involved by inviting illustrators to speak, displaying children’s art and crafts, and featuring books on art and illustration. They also provide program ideas that have worked successfully in other states.

As budget cuts continually reduce the amount of arts education available in schools, libraries can help fill the void and keep art accessible to kids and teens.

One easy way to incorporate art into the library is to host an art contest. In “Fine Art Programs, Teens, and Libraries: Changing Lives One Program at a Time,” Natasha Benway writes about her experience hosting an art contest at her library in Texas. She emphasizes that this is a very scalable program that can take as much or as little time or money as you want it to.

When planning as art contest, the primary factors to consider are:

  • What age groups will be included?
  • What types of work will be accepted?
  • How the entries will be judged?
  • What prizes will be offered?
  • How will you publicize the contest?

For further information on the details of how this might work in your library, check out the article. Benway walks you through options to consider.

For a longer term commitment to art in your library, consider hosting an art center. Many librarians in North Dakota might be thinking “I don’t have the space for that!” However, we’re not talking about an entire room – all you really need is a table. An art center is a place to display and create art.

girl paintingIn “Taking Part in Art: Designing a Children’s Art Center,” Maria Kramer draws on her experience hosting an art center at the Ann Arbor District Library in Michigan to share how you can start an art center with minimal start up costs and minimal upkeep costs, since many libraries will already have basic supplies on hand from other children’s programming. She states that “An art center does not rely on expensive supplies to be a success, but on creative, intriguing displays; if you find yourself spending a lot of money on your art center, rethink your approach.”

Art centers do not focus on projects with step by step instructions and specific end results. The overall principles of an art center are freedom and guidance. While art centers should allow creative freedom, children do need some guidance in the form of themes or questions. Kramer provides ideas for displays to get you started, along with related books, on topics such as self-portraits, shapes, storytelling, and masks.

How do you focus on art in your library? Share your ideas in the comments!

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