3. Prepare

In the weeks leading up to the first meeting of your creative aging workshop, there are several logistic details to organize.

Reserving space for the workshop

You will need to determine where in your library the creative aging workshop will meet. The type of space required will vary depending on the nature of the workshop and the number of participants involved. You will also need to secure a place to store supplies and works-in-progress in between sessions. Discussing needs with the teaching artist and reviewing the spaces available together ahead of time is strongly advised.

In addition to finding the right space in your library for the creative aging workshop, it is also a good idea to let other staff know about the location of workshop series so that they will know how to answer questions about it and direct patrons when asked.

Visual Arts Prep

For workshops that focus on visual arts, you will need to provide space and furniture (tables, chairs) which will allow the group to have enough room to work comfortably. It is important that the room selected have ample light, ideally natural. The teaching artist may request A/V equipment so that he or she may show slides during lectures.

Performing Arts Prep

Workshops that teach vocal, musical, or theatrical arts will likely require a space where the teaching artist and participants can feel free to make noise that will not disturb others in the library. While holding these workshops in an auditorium may seem like a natural fit, please keep in mind that auditorium seating may not be conducive during the teaching sessions — something to discuss with the teaching artist. Depending on the discipline and available chairs, the stage itself can be used as the classroom.

For workshops that involve dance and movement, please know that concrete or tile floors are not optimal as they are hard to stand on for long periods of time and can be slippery. Again, discuss options with your teaching artist.

Literary Arts Prep

For workshops that focus on literary arts, in addition to providing space for participants to write, you may also need space for them to gather in break-out groups. Chairs that can be moved around the room easily may be a good idea.

Acquiring Materials

During the planning and budgeting stages, you will have determined with the teaching artist what types of materials are necessary for your workshop. Often the supplies required for visual arts workshops will require more budget than literary arts ones. Frequently, the teaching artist will know of vendors from which to purchase bulk quantities of art supplies at discount prices, and depending on your procedures, the artist may be able to procure the supplies for the workshop.

[VIDEO CLIP of A Village Vision students/Josh talking about materials.]

Drawing on Your Library’s Collection

One of the most obvious benefits to conducting arts instruction in public libraries is the opportunity for librarians and teaching artists to work together to provide additional materials for the participants to use during the workshops, and to provide access to resources that reflect the interests of the patrons as they explore the medium they are studying and their own creativity.

Pull Titles with the Teaching Artist

Ideally, the librarian and the teaching artist will discuss relevant resources that the artist might use during instruction and that you might pull from the stacks to share with the group.

Develop Finding Aids

If they don’t exist already, it would be great to provide finding aids/pathfinders on topics related to the workshop topic and artistic discipline or medium.

Create Displays

Both as a service to the workshop participants and as a passive way of advertising that your library is offering creative aging programs, creating a display of materials related to the workshop in a prominent place in your library and labeling it clearly is a good idea.

Be Present, Help Participants Access Your Collection

Participants in creative aging programs in libraries are often extremely grateful for the opportunity, and it often brings them closer to their libraries and the librarians who administer the programs. If you are able to make yourself available to the participants during the course of the workshop series and provide them with a form of personalized reference service, the effort will surely go a long way toward relationship building.


  • If the library is able to make purchases directly from vendors, the library’s sales tax-exemption can be used which will mean more materials can be purchased with the same budget allocation.
  • One thing that has really made a big difference in participants’ ability to learn and excel is the use of top quality visual arts materials, i.e. good paints, brushes, and high-quality watercolor paper, for instance. Poor quality materials can frustrate and dissuade budding artists. Something to keep in mind.

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