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Pro Photo Day in Benzonia!

We started off another great year of partnering with Benzonia Public Library with a day of photography workshops.

Photo of Jeff Smith demonstrating
Photo of Jeff Smith demonstrating how to hold your camera to minimize movement

The University of Michigan School of Information photographer Jeffrey Smith was our professional mentor for the day. Jeff has visited Benzonia before as a photographer and videographer for Making in Michigan Libraries, but this was his first time giving a presentation. He did a marvelous job! In fact, Benzonia’s director Amanda McLaren tells us she just ran into someone from the weekend workshop who was still raving about it days later!

The group taking practice shots
The group taking practice shots. Placing your subject near a window is one of Jeff’s tips for better photos. Never use a flash is another!

Jeff’s session was broken up into two parts. The first part was on Saturday morning from 10 to 12 where he explained tricks for taking high quality photos on a smart phone. Such tricks included holding your fingers down on the screen to lock focus, moving your finger up and down on the screen to adjust exposure, and using the volume buttons while in the camera app to take a picture. After he showed a few tricks for taking photos he then went on to demonstrate how to edit photos on your smartphone with an app called Snapseed and everyone got up and moved around to try it out!

A break was given for lunch and then patrons met up in downtown Beulah for the photowalk! The photowalk gave individuals with smartphones and more standard digital cameras a chance to practice their skills and learn about perspective, light, framing, etc. from a professional photographer.

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Jeff took patrons on a walk around town in unexpected places. Our first stop was near a dumpster behind a building. Jeff explained that although this would not typically be viewed as a great photo opportunity the bright blue color and texture of the wall led to stellar shots. It just required a matter of framing things so that the dumpster didn’t show.

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Our next locations were the top of a high hill that overlooked a few rooftops with a view of Crystal Lake in the background, shooting from behind weeds on a beach because layers help make a better image, and capturing action shots of seagulls. After the photowalk the group headed back to Benzonia Public Library for a tutorial on editing photos on a computer through Photoshop. The event ended with a showcase of the beautifully shot and edited photos taken on the walk!

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It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday — trying to view the world in a new perspective. If you want to see more photos from the event feel free to check out our album on twitter here!

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This not-awesome photo was not shot by Jeff!

Our friends at Niles District Library featured in their local newspaper!

We were excited to see a flurry of local interest in the Niles District Library’s Skillshare space and Library of Things. Check out the summary below or enjoy the full article here!


Library workshop series offers skill sharing

by Kelsey Hammon, Niles Daily Star
Monday, August 27, 2018

NILES — It is not always cost effective or timely to wait for a repair man to show up and mend that cracked drywall or wayward appliance.

Thanks to the efforts of the Niles District Library, those looking to spare their wallet and learn to be handier around their home can gain the tools during a new workshop series called SkillShare.

How it works

For the past month, volunteers have been lending their skills to locals, teaching them how to do everything from household repair and maintenance to skills in the kitchen. The workshops are free and open to the public and people are welcome to make suggestions for workshops via the library’s Facebook page.

Those without a diverse toolbox need not shy away from this workshop series. Part of SkillShare is also offering participants a whole tool closet, called the Library of Things. Here, people can check out and return the tools needed to complete a project.

Laura Hollister, the adult services team leader, who was among those with a vision for SkillShare, saw it as a way to help her community garner new skills while saving on resources they might not have.

“Instead of spending $30 on drywall mix to fix two screw holes, spend $3 on a little bit of spackle and you check out the drywall kit,” Hollister said. “We are trying to provide the tools to go along with the information.”

Those who visit the space can also experiment with their own Do It Yourself project during Open Shop, which takes place 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

An example for other communities

The idea garnered not only a response from the community, but also the University of Michigan. The partnership helped to transform a portion of the library’s basement into a thriving workshop space.

Kristin Fontichiaro, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, first took an interest in the project about 11 months ago. Fontichiaro had visited the library to host a workshop of her own, when she struck up a conversation with Hollister about the vision for SkillShare.

“We were really captivated by the scope and the scale of what Laura was trying to share with SkillShare,” Fontichiaro said.

Through the partnership, Fontichiaro said the university donated about $1,000 in funding and some of the tools residents can find in the Library of Things.

To help, Fontichiaro said the university served as a “peer and thinking partner,” while those involved also studied how the Niles District Library got the project off the ground. Now, SkillShare in Niles will serve as an example for other communities, Fontichiaro said.

On Friday, university students shot a commercial at the Niles District Library and captured the project. The footage will debut in a couple of weeks and be used on the university’s social media platforms and YouTube.

“It was exciting and humbling to have them identify us as an example of what they are trying to help communities accomplish,” Hollister said. “It was exciting for them to be able to be in place where the community was so active in this space. This is not an example of us doing something for the community. It’s an example of us doing something with the community.”

Hollister welcomed people to contact the library and teach a workshop or make a suggestion for something they would like to learn. People are also asked to donate their unused tools or decorations for the Library of Things.

Without community support, Hollister said SkillShare would not exist. Volunteers’ desire to teach classes and the community’s donation of tools are aspects that will help to keep it going and making it a success.

Additionally, SkillShare is part of a larger transformation to utilize the basement space of the library. In the future, Hollister said the library hopes to have adult education classes and even a café and vocational training space in the downstairs space.

As for the overall goal of SkillShare, Fontichiaro said she could see it serving the community.

“Laura thinks about not just what any library could do, but what Niles District Library can do for the community of Niles,” Fontichiaro said. “She’s being very intentional about using this thing to solve real challenges that Niles citizens face every day.”

Our friends at Benzonia Public Library featured in this May 2018 School Library Journal article!

In getting organized for the new school year, I realized that we had never blogged about our friends Finn McLaren and his mom, Benzonia’s director Amanda McLaren, being featured in School Library Journal! Enjoy the excerpt below, and click here if you have an SLJ subscription and want to read the entire piece!

Kristin


Making the Difference;
More than cool materials and DIY learning, makerspaces build confidence, expand worlds, and teach life skills
by Marva Hinton
School Library Journal, May 2018

FINN McLAREN WAS A SHY TEEN who never showed an interest in sports or school clubs. He hadn’t quite found his place or an activity that sparked his interest. But when a group from the University of Michigan conducted a maker workshop at his local library in the summer of 2016, his mother saw “a total transformation.”

“It lit something up in him,” says Amanda McLaren, Finn’s mom and the director of the Benzonia (MI) Public Library that hosted the workshop.

Now 15 and a high school sophomore, Finn runs the Benzie Guild of Makers, a club he created consisting of mostly fourth to sixth graders. He is also thinking about his future.

“Because of the maker program and working with the younger kids, I have thought of a career teaching math and science, so I could incorporate making,” he says …

Makerspaces and the maker-centered educational philosophy of open-ended, student-driven learning through discovery and experimentation can change kids’ lives. Like Finn did, many children build confidence in a makerspace. They find a place where they belong. Children who are without many friends can develop a social circle of those with like-minded interests. Students who struggle in a traditional academic setting experience success. Those who are afraid to try and fail discover how much can be learned when things go wrong. They feel the satisfaction of perseverance and problem solving …

 

 

 

 

Finn McLaren is the mentor. His group meets at the library twice a month and … one of their favorite things to do is deconstruct mechanical toys.

“They learn how things work,” Finn says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Finn’s mom finds joy in seeing his confidence and emerging personality.

“The kids are so drawn to him, and he is so patient and lovely with them, that I could not be more proud,” she says. “He’s just completely come out of his shell.”

Our colleague Kayla Carcucci’s work featured!

We loaned some MML equipment we wouldn’t be using this summer to Kayla Carucci, a doctoral student at U-M School of Information. Check out what she’s doing with it! From the article on My Central Jersey:

You might think that a nursing home is the last place you will find an innovative workshop where people can create works of art, on their own schedule, using some pretty high-tech gadgets.

But think again, because that’s exactly what’s going on at Reformed Church Home in Old Bridge this summer.

The brainchild of Kayla Carucci, a Middletown resident and PhD student at the University of Michigan, “Creations with Kayla” has found great traction among RCH residents as they explore traditional crafting using some pretty cutting-edge technologies — ones that might even surprise some millennials.

And the best part is, they are creating mainly on their own, with little instruction from Carucci herself.

The concept is known in popular culture as a “makerspace,” but Carucci has added her own spin by applying the fundamentals of the maker movement in the senior, long-term care setting. Her goal is to determine if the well-being of long-term care residents can be improved by offering self-directed sessions using low- and high-tech tools to create whatever the participant chooses …

 “I hope to empower residents to make the decision to come at their convenience and create to their hearts desire. It’s a chance to do something different and challenging. There’s no reason seniors can’t take advantage of spaces that are in place in libraries, schools, and commercial settings,” Carucci said.

Indeed, the makerspace model has been around since the early 2000s, fueled mostly by an interest in computer science and robotics. It has evolved to become a hands on learning environment for children, DIY-ers, crafters and entrepreneurs. Equipment used in some makerspaces include 3D printers, iPads, digital embroidery equipment and even sewing machines, all of which are in place at Reformed Church Home for the residents to explore …

“I could do this all day, I really enjoy it,” says Mary Puskar, an assisted-living resident at the Home. “I’m learning so many things, like candle making and how to paint on an iPad using a stylus. We even digitally embroidered my name on a sweater so I wouldn’t misplace it again.”

Nursing home resident Sabina McCarthy agreed. “I have arthritis and can’t write or do much with my hands, but I can design something on the 3D printer and watch it print,” she said. “I can finally do crafts again.”

Great job, Kayla! Be sure to click through to the original article to see the photos!

Workshop in Frankenmuth: Digital Art

At Pam’s suggestion, we spent our afternoon in Frankenmuth working on three digital genres: photo editing, video editing, and graphic design. You can view the slides and resources here and find event photos here.

This was a one-time event being offered only in Frankenmuth this summer, but we have lots of other great events going on around Michigan — check out the events list here!

Here are a few photos from the afternoon:

photo of screen of picmonkey.com

Dog photos!

Group of collaborators

Hope to see you at one of our upcoming events!

Workshop in Frankenmuth: Selling Handmade Goods Online

We premiered a new workshop in Frankenmuth today — a workshop on how to support patrons in turning their interests into online craft businesses. This was a lot of fun to put together and to run today!

{Decorative} Skeins of embroidery floss

We gave everyone embroidery floss and some Make charms so we could keep our hands busy while we talked. Here’s a work in progress …

Hands making a floss and charm object

We went exploring on Etsy to do some market research; then Alyssa showed us how to help patrons take better photos of their creations.

Instructor pointing at display screen

Armed with new strategies, we went throughout the library and garden to photograph our new creations:

Smartphone with photo on it
We swooned over Spoonflower and other online stores and swapped ideas we had for how to use it in libraries:

Photo of the book The Spoonflower Handbook

And explored several Etsy- and craft business-related titles.

Books about Etsy on a table

etsy book

If you missed this event, check out our remaining events throughout the state this summer. We’ll be repeating this workshop!

You can also view our slides and resources here.

And check out Pixabay.com, Wikimedia Commons, or SnappyGoat.com, which Ben recommended for stock images for creating your store brand!

Photosphere tour of Niles District Library

Panoramic photo of children's area of Niles District Library

We just acquired a 360-degree video camera after learning about it to prep for our Google Cardboard workshop earlier this month.

Check out Ben’s efforts — saved to Flickr as auto-play panoramic videos but inserted here as still images — and check out the wonderful atmosphere of the Niles District Library! Put this library system on your must-visit list for its beautiful layout, inviting furnishings, and engaged staff.