We always love hearing about successful library + art programs, and it’s fun to feature a program that just happened last week! The King County Library System (KCLS) hosted a workshop called “Cut It Out” for adults that tapped a local institution and a local business as partners. The workshop (an “evening of artmaking” with an “emphasis on shape, pattern, and symmetry”) was facilitated by Celeste Cooning, an artist associated with the Bellevue Arts Museum, and held at Cafe Cesura, a local cafe.

We posed a set of questions to Amber Slaven, Adult Services Librarian at the Bellevue Library, about the planning for this program, the reasons for holding it outside of the library, and more. Here’s what she had to say:

The Bellevue Library has found from local market and demographic data that many people in our community enjoy the arts, including film, dance, and museum exhibitions. I approached Celeste after seeing her present at an arts microfunding event called Sprout Seattle because I thought her work would help engage those interested in art and art making.

As a system, KCLS has a service goal of planning more outreach events that not only promote services, but bring content and services into the neighborhood and meet community members in places outside the building. Café Cesura is a great space, just one block from the library, that serves local coffee and has a large salvaged wood table for a workspace.  And, logistically, Bellevue’s meeting rooms are temporarily unavailable while our parking garage undergoes construction, so I needed a community space for the workshop. Once our meeting rooms are available again, I do plan to host another workshop with Celeste because demand to sign up has been overwhelming, so we want to have her back!

Celeste has done many large scale installations in partnership with community organizations, including transforming Seattle’s City Hall during the first wedding ceremonies for same sex couple’s after the state passed new legislation.

Her dedication to community engagement compounded with her interest in encouraging people to make art made her a great fit for library programming.

Bring it home: as Amber points out, working with not only local artists but also local businesses is a great way to bring your library’s mission outside of the library building and, frequently, attract an audience that might not normally have library events on their radar. Coffee shops and even bars can turn a library workshop into a lively social event for twenty- and thirty-somethings.

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