Category Archives: Deep Dive: Benzonia

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 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.”

Spring Fair @ Benzonia Public Library

On March 18th, the Benzonia Public Library hosted a spring fair with the student athlete from the local schools. The children in the community got to try their hands on crafts, face painting, and t-shirt painting. These were accompanied by fun activities like reading, Corn bag tossing, bowling and a photo booth made possible by different members of the community.

Here are a  few images from the event:

Spring Fair
Spring Fair
A good Friends t-shirt
A good Friends t-shirt
Handpainting a t-shirt
Handpainting a t-shirt
Header that reads "Getting Started with Design Thinking"

Getting Started with Design Thinking (Benzonia)

Flyer for Getting Started with Design Thinking. You can view the details in a machine-readable version at https://www.eventbrite.com/edit?eid=30226120139

Hello! Kamya and I are tickled to be back in Benzonia today, hosting a half-day workshop on design thinking for librarians and educators working with teens.

You can find the slides here.

If you’d like to try your hand at our prototyped design thinking game, click here for a word-based version and here for a pictorial version.

If you’d like to join us on Saturday, March 11, for another variation of this workshop in Saginaw, click here to register for free.

Benzonia Holiday Party

We were so excited to spend the weekend in Benzonia for meetings with our colleagues from Benzonia Public Library (BPL) and Grow Benzie and to get to be part of the BPL Holiday Party!

Community carols, the perfectly-advertised hilarious puppet show, and then lots of time to make stuff!

The Repurposeful Librarians set up several craft stations for kids, and we had a gift-making and wrapping station consisting of:

Blank certificate paper so kids could make coupons (“good for one back rub”) or certificates (“Best Mom!”), roll them up, tie them with ribbons, and present as holiday gifts.

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Recycled suede bookmarks, with the last-minute addition of similar recycled suede bracelets (we bought suede jackets for $1 at thrift stores and cut them into standard shapes that participants could then fringe or trim into their preferred shapes) that kids of all ages could stamp, draw on with Sharpies, and gift:

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

QuestLove-inspired LEGO pins. We threw some ornament hooks into the van at the last minute, and LEGO ornaments were way more popular!

 

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Buttons and magnets made with our donated vintage button-maker and our brand-new 1″ buttonmaker from American Buttons! We had blank circles for DIY original artwork, plus a vintage dictionary, picture book galleys, and magazines for those preferring to hunt for art:

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

And you can’t hide your gifts from family members unless you take them home already-wrapped, right? So we also had an easy-for-kids gift-wrapping station, complete with lots of bows rescued from a local thrift store:

 

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Benzonia Holiday Magic

Sadly, we had to return to the campus world of semester-end cramming, projects, and grading, but not before we caught a glimpse of the Holiday Magic parade!

Benzonia Holiday Magic

We have been deriving so much pleasure from our ongoing partnership with BPL. Benzonia is 4+ hours from Ann Arbor, but we chattered the whole way there and back, inspired and full of new ideas. We cannot wait for our next trip there in January!

To see more photos, as well as what the Repurposeful Librarians had up their sleeves for kids to make, check out our Flickr photo album!

Kristin

Benzonia Craft Fair

Kamya and I have had the Benzonia Craft Fair marked in our calendars since August. We’ve been dying to see the work of the Repurposeful Librarians, Michelle and Cathy’s fundraising-through-crafting arm. Proceeds benefit programs at Benzonia Public Library.

We came up the day before for some meetings, then were bowled over by what we saw at the Fair. (Let’s just say we did much of our holiday shopping, too!)

Getting off the elevator, I saw this (left to right):

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(Middle school spirit swag, plus jewelry, homemade jellies, balms, and lotions)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016(
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More homemade concoctions, then a booth raising money for education in Borneo by repurposing shoe leather scraps, then a booth selling upcycled wool mittens, hats, adn clothing.)

Here is some of what drew our eye at the Repurposeful Librarians’ booth:

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(See that lamp on the left? It now belongs to me.)

BPL Repurposeful Librarians: Art pages from a donated coffee table book for sale $1/page -- better than selling the book at a Used Book Sale
(These are actually carefully excised from a donated coffee table book and sold for $1/page. So many sold while we were there. What a clever and profitable alternative to selling the book itself at a book sale!)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016(
(
Ornaments from recycled materials.)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(
Rolled up print = snowman)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(
Having bought many gifts at the booth, I realize these photos are full of what I did not buy but yearned for!)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(
More rolled paper designs)

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016
(
Everything sold by the Repurposeful Librarians is designed and made by library staffers on their own time. All profits benefit programs at the library. This is the only library I know of that has a program like this!)

Beyond the Repurposefuls, Sophie had Charlie Brown trees for sale:

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

 

Jimmy’s booth featured one-of-a-kind Harry Potter wands. If you were really lucky, Sophie was working the booth and could help you pick one just right for you. Then she’d tell you what was inside the wand (mine had a phoenix feather). Service right out Diagon Alley!

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

 

And this booth of art, batik art (including a book!), and lavender treats from the Flynn farm:

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

Benzonia Craft Fair 12/3/2016

We were so inspired by the artistry we saw in this single small room — we got lots of, err, “holiday” shopping done. If only there had been enough money for a custom upcycled wool jacket … the basket woven with an antler handle … the quilt … the stuffed dragon tail for kids … the jewelry worthy of an episode of The Tudors …)

Enjoy the visual feast!