All My Valentine’s Day Posts in One Convenient Place


I’m here for your Valentine’s Day programming and display needs, whether they are of the “Love is Great” or of the “Love Sucks” variety.

♥ Remember when I put Amanda Lepore in a YA display? Here’s LGBTQ titles you’ll love.



♥ Several posts on preparing for and throwing an Anti-Valentine’s Day party. Playlist included! Click here, here, and here.


And last, ideas for throwing a toddler valentine’s dance.


~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Cover Your Library in Glitter and Lights: An Interview with Rachel Moani

One of my most lurked on librarian blogs was run by the very talented Rachel Moani, a Youth Services Associate in Washington state. She posted the most beautiful and breathtaking library displays I had ever seen. Rachel’s library was populated by dinosaurs, massive flying dragons, candy-colored castles big enough to hide in, glittery lightning storms, and twinkling lights. I was totally enamored by the library atmosphere she created and could only imagine how captivated her child and teen patrons must be.

One day, that website disappeared, and I spent a while searching for where her work was now displayed. I found a Pinterest page, thankfully, but I set to work trying to actually find and contact Rachel. Through the magic of social media, I tracked her down for an interview. I want all of you to become super Rachel-fan-girls, just like me.

I hope you find Rachel’s work as exciting and important as I do.

Ingrid Abrams:  Which came first, the art or the librarianship? How did you come to combine them?

Rachel Moani: Art came first, though during the past five years in libraries I’ve attacked projects and learned skills I never would have thought to acquire if I wasn’t putting up a seasonal book display. I’ve been having a wild and enthusiastic love affair with cardboard thanks to libraries.  Before, I’d always been more of a doodler/painter. Working in a children’s section of a library with very neutral décor, adding color and vibrancy where I could made sense to me.

IA: What was the most complicated display you ever pulled off?

RM: I like a challenge, so most of them push my limits in some way, but if I had to choose I’d say my stegosaurus, I think. It’s in six parts, all together she’s 35 feet long and 15 feet high. Hanging each piece individually while making it look like it’s hung as one piece was a challenge. I looked up a picture of a little balsa wood stegosaurus toy model and blew it up x1bazillion. Mathematical. Though the thing that cracks me up is: I spent all summer perfecting the dinosaur skeleton (for the “Dig into Reading!” theme) and then Banned Books week totally surprised me. So I whipped up a little banned books display in a few rushed, distracted hours – and that was the one that hit it big. Practically no one noticed the dino- Lolz!

Dinosaur Construction (Rachel Moani)Banned Books Display At the Lacey Library

IA: How in the WORLD did you get that dragon to hang from the ceiling?

RM: I’m pretty lucky to have a really supportive Lacey City staff, they put in a set of pulleys for me, so I can lift my crafts into our vaulted library ceiling.  Figuring out dimensions/weight/material quantity is a fun way to brush up on all that high school math I never thought I’d use.The Dragon

IA: What kinds of reactions do staff and patrons have to your displays?

RM: My castle right now is really fun, because kids can tug and touch and pull on it. I’m surprised by how long it’s lasted, and that it seems to be dying so gracefully. I thought it would go in a blaze of ripped up glory after a month or two, but it’s been up almost a year! I am obsessed with Yayoi Kusama, the greatest polka dot artist of our time, and I wanted to make something inspired by her installations. So every time kids come to the library, they put one sticker on the castle. My regular patrons, even the babies, now automatically come to the desk to choose their sticker. Which means I get a patron interaction with every visit, even with the ones who have always been too shy to talk with me. Just look at some of the adorable things they write on them!

Put a sticker on the Castle!)

stickers castle

stickers castle 2

IA: Tell me about your favorite display.

RM: Oh, I loved my ‘Dream Big’ chapter book display. But it was all glitter, twinkle lights, and fairy tales, so no surprise there.


IA: What advice do you have for non-artsy, non-craftily talented librarians who strive create stunning displays like yours?

RM: I get so many great ideas from other creative people out there, and I love helping a fellow book displayer out! I know Pinterest isn’t an ideal place to comment and get responses, but I do try to always  respond if someone has a specific craft question. Craft! Have Fun! Take suggestions from the children at your library! Be bold!

There are so many librarians I admire and aspire to be like, and Rachel is definitely one of them. It was such an honor to get to talk to her. If there’s a library in heaven, it looks like this. Click here to check out her gorgeous Pinterest page.

 ~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
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PS: Rachel keeps a visual diary, and she was kind enough to share this with me:

I Have too Much Crap to Carry: Behold, my new storytime box! (Inspired by Shania Twain)

My storytimes require a lot of…stuff, as I’m sure yours do as well. There’s a flannel board, one or two sets of pieces to go with it, maybe a puppet, at least three books, a stamp and ink-pad, handouts, signage, some sort of prop like scarves or shakers, and sometimes a boombox and/or MP3 player. I load my arms up with all that nonsense, then trek to the other side of the Youth Wing, and often up a flight of stairs, where I try to wrestle with the lock on the program-room door. It typically takes two trips and it usually ends up with me dropping everything on the floor while some super-hip Brooklyn dad says, “Do you need help?” and I’m like, “No, no, I’m cool. I’m TOTALLY fine!”

This is an actual GIF of me trying to look cool and casual.

I made a couple of make-shift storytime boxes out of cardboard with shiny paper stapled on, but they weren’t very sturdy and/or cute. I was simply trading an arm full of crap for a box full of crap!

A solid attempt, but these temporary boxes always fell apart!
A solid attempt, but these temporary boxes always fell apart!

I still didn’t have my hands free to open doors and wave to babies, and objects were still feeling pretty precarious. Sure, I could throw all the storytime supplies on a cart, but that didn’t sound very fancy, and how was I going to lug said cart up the stairs? #childrenslibrarianproblems

One night, my partner/euphemism and I were at a show his friend’s band was playing in, and I saw a dude carrying a bass drum/floor tom case. It looked perfect! It was sort of circular, sturdy-looking, and it had a handle. A HANDLE! I could throw all my crap in it AND still have one hand free. It reminded me of the hat-box in that Shania Twain “That Don’t Impress Me Much” video. Yes! That video! I’m old! Whatever!

See! Her hand is free! Doesn’t that look so much better than a stupid cardboard box? Plus it matches her leopard print snuggie!
It’s sturdy enough for you to stand your leg up on it so you can properly survey your haters!

Tim, being the good boyfriend/euphemism he is, got me a drum case for Hanukkah:

I, of course, hauled over to the craft store to pick up some stuff to gussy up my new storytime box. I came back with plastic dinosaurs, keychains, eye screws (screw eyes? These things.), gold spray paint, two kinds of glitter spray paint (in “Posh Pink” and “Sparkling Waters”), glitter letter stickers (are we sensing a pattern here?), and sealant.

First, I sprayed down all the dinosaurs with gold spray paint and laid them out to dry. Once they were unsticky, I screwed the eye screws into their little dinosaur bodies. I attached the dinosaurs to the keychains and they now hang from the handles.

Continue reading “I Have too Much Crap to Carry: Behold, my new storytime box! (Inspired by Shania Twain)”

I’m Crafty and I May or May Not be Your Type: Shranky Danks Forevah

At my place of work, we’ve been talking about projects we can bust out during our Teen MakerSpace/DIY program. We remembered that we have a toaster oven and have been thinking about using it in different crafts. Shrinky Dinks came to mind, so I thought I’d do a test drive at my apartment.

You might remember Shrinky Dinks from when you were a kid, that is, if you’re as ancient as I am. You colored in little pieces of plastic, your mom bopped them in the oven, and they came out smaller but sturdier. They probably looked something like this:

I had Smurf ones, too, and they were the jam.
I had Smurf ones, too, and they were the jam.

You can buy plain sheets of Shrinky Dinks at craft stores. The good thing about the plain sheets is that you can decorate them however you want, instead of being stuck with Smurfs and Rainbow Brite (who are rad. Don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think my teens are interested in those). I got mine at Michael’s crafts, which I understand is a regional chain that not everyone has access to. They didn’t have a great selection. I really wanted white sheets, but they just had clear.

It’s good to have lots of paint markers and Sharpies and acrylic paint. Any kind of marker that is too watery will just bleed everywhere (you’ll see that go down in some of my finished pins). I started by making some pins based off ones I’ve seen on Etsy. You have to draw your design super giant because they shrink down super small (Shrinky Dink is NOT just a clever name):

Riot not Diet is my mantra, and the mermaid pin is for my coworker, Leigh. Don't get attached to it, I end up wrecking it.
Riot not Diet is my mantra, and the mermaid pin is for my coworker, Leigh. Don’t get attached to it, I end up wrecking it.

This one goes out to all the Chatty Charlies on the F train:

The above sentiment is ripped of from this Etsy seller. Please go buy one of their pins and assuage my guilt.

Tim asked for specifically this:

This one combines my love of cats and feminism and pastel colors:

Here’s where I wish I had the white sheets and not the clear ones. You can see straight through the middle of the symbol.

Everything was ready for the oven. Theses things don’t bake for long. I just followed the instructions on the Shrinky Dinks and it was pretty easy. Sometimes they curl when they come out of the oven. In that case, I just take a spoon and press them back down until they’re flat.

Here’s what came out:

Continue reading “I’m Crafty and I May or May Not be Your Type: Shranky Danks Forevah”

I’m Crafty and I May or May Not be Your Type: Glitter, Cats, and Liza Minnelli

Gluing things to other different things is good for my soul. I’m not the most innovative or skilled crafter; I usually pick around DIY blogs until I find something I think I can actually pull of without accidentally sewing my face to the floor. Though not exclusively crafty, one of my favorite bloggers is Marlena from Self-Constructed Freak. She whipped up these awesome pins/buttons/badges/whatever you wanna call ’ems:

Aren’t these amazing? Look, I’ll have Marlena give you the step-by-steps, as she’s very good at explaining how to make these. What I will tell you is that I didn’t use resin as a top coat. You have to mix two parts and if you add extra steps to my crafting process, I’ll screw it up. Instead, I used Aleene’s Jewelry Pendant Gel. It’s one step and it doesn’t stink up the joint. It dried clear and made the buttons extra shiny.

Here are some of the buttons I made:

In addition to images, I used acrylic paint, rhinestones, and glitter.
In addition to the main images, I used acrylic paint, rhinestones, and glitter.
These images come from a ratty old Liza with a Z program I found at a thrift shop. Some of the images were in good condition. I really like the way the Aleene's Gel dried over the holographic glitter.
These images come from a ratty old Liza with a Z program I found at a thrift shop. Some of the images were still in good condition. I really like the way the Aleene’s Gel dried over the holographic glitter. That’s Liza and Judy inside the heart button.
The cat and the weird pink bear are from some weird book sale find. The pink boy and flower print is from vintage wrapping paper.
The cat and the weird pink bear are from some weird book sale find. The pink boy and flower print is from vintage wrapping paper.

I used this project at work with the tweens (I was filling in for Tween Art Club, a program I don’t usually do). I had varying results. The tweens who could really concentrate and think out their pins made really cool little wearable art projects. Kids of the squirrelier sort just ended up with a gloppy mess. If you do this project at the library, veer towards an older crowd. I was way too permissive in letting the younger kids into the program. I’m such a push-over.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

Discover Hidden Treasures/Dig Into Reading

Here’s a little something I’ve been working on for a big Summer Reading display. It’s based on our Discover Hidden Treasures/Dig Into Reading theme this year. Meet Shanice:

She's a pirate! I was afraid that she looked like a baby Nicki Minaj, but my coworkers assured me she doesn't.
She’s a pirate! I was afraid that she looked like a baby Nicki Minaj, but my coworkers assured me she doesn’t. Her skull and crossbones are made out of (tempeh) bacon and eggs. She has amazing eye makeup because, unlike me, she’s not afraid of poking herself in the eye with eyeliner.
She’s got braces, but she’s rocking them.
I’ve given her a Frida Kahlo shirt, because Shanice is the kind of chick that has a good grasp of art and history.
I added extra flowers to her crown.
I added extra flowers to her crown.

I’ll work on Shanice’s arms and legs in the next couple of days. I also hope to bust out a glittery gender-queer mermaid if I have time.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid