Getting Arts-and-Craftsy with eLibrary Resources

Stock art photo of a variety of craft supplies
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Changing our complete daily routines and schedules, Covid-19 has upended, well, a lot of things. Many of us are spending a lot more time at home, whether working from home if we’re fortunate or through normal social gatherings being curtailed by social distancing. Among the homebound, there’s one group uniquely suited to being indoors, potentially limited to activities and supplies on hand: crafters.

Knitters joke about yarn stash they expect to extend beyond life expectancy. Paper crafters and folks who work with beads or jewelry making have a wide array of tools and components. Quilters, I’ve seen firsthand how massive those fabric stashes can get (and for those of you tapping into those supplies to make masks, thank you!). No matter the crafting flavor of choice, many people probably have at least some supplies buried in a closet by lack of time or energy, perhaps even stashed away because that stuff is ‘too good’ to use.

Well, if there was ever a time that warranted pulling out the good stuff and taking some time for crafty self-care, it’s now. (Unless your brain is just exhausted by this all or fried from trying to juggle work from home and small humans all day, in which case, please don’t feel guilty for thinking “nope,” clicking out of this post, and streaming your favorite show or movie. You know best what you need.) While Pinterest can serve as the gateway to many project ideas, I wanted to highlight a resource some people might not even think about for artsy inspiration: the library’s digital holdings.

If it’s been awhile since you last dusted off those art supplies or you’ve been meaning to learn a new skill, Universal Class is a good place to start. While many of the courses are business and academic in nature, the Crafts and Hobbies section is no slouch with over 70 offerings. These include courses in drawing, sewing, knitting, calligraphy, painting (watercolor and acrylic), scrapbooking, and even starting a craft business. The courses are self-paced, online classes, ranging in length from three hours to longer (many are around 10-15 hours). The courses are broken into modules, so if you already know the very basics, you can skip to a later video.

If you don’t feel like watching videos, another avenue to finding crafty how-to and inspiration is the library’s eBook offerings through Axis 360. You can just do a basic search by hobby if you want to see what’s out there. Just note that this is a keyword search that will turn up anything with that word, including fiction and any children’s books with that term (just think of how many cozy mystery series have a hobby focus like knitting or quilting!). While you can filter those results to find just the nonfiction titles or only show titles currently available to be checked out, there’s a better way to find just the nonfiction selections. Using the browse by subject option (located in slightly different spots depending on how you’re accessing the Magic Wall; it’s under the menu in the top left corner of the website if you’re accessing it from a computer), you can sift through nonfiction categories to Crafts and Hobbies, then select your craft of choice. Honestly, browsing that list of possibilities sparked all sorts of curiosity for me and might send others down new crafty rabbit holes! I started out planning to look at knitting books but then saw a whole section on dyeing that intrigued me. Uh oh. Just what I need, another hobby.

Finally, for the dedicated hobbyist who may already have a decent personal collection of text resources and patterns (or a stack of books they checked out before we closed!), the eMagazine holdings available through RB Digital are available for your artistic inspiration. The magazines are broken down by topics, so you can filter results by genre and peruse Crafts. This was already a favorite section of mine since it included subscriptions to Interweave Crochet and Interweave Knits, two of my favorite magazines for beautiful, contemporary yarncraft inspiration that are not cheap at newstand price, but our wonderful eResources librarian recently added so much more content. The cross-stitch selections alone are inspiring to thumb through. Even more niche crafts like spinning yarn are included now, and some magazines like Mollie Makes include a variety of hobbies, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone. And I’d also like to draw attention to the adult coloring book section, which is another creative outlet some people might be turning to for stress relief. With everything from birds to intricate geometric designs to steampunk ocean scenes, it’s another way to scratch that creative itch; unlike a physical coloring book, if you decide halfway through a picture to completely change up the color scheme, you can simply print off a new copy.

Obviously, disappearing into a hobby for a few hours doesn’t make all the stresses of the world magically vanish. But it can dim that background roar of stress a little, and I don’t know about you, but I’ll take what I can get in that regard. Happy crafting, and if you see me in the library whenever it’s safe to re-open, I’d love to hear what you decided to make during this time.


Written by Hebah A.H.

Fun fact: I once played Magic: The Gathering with author Brandon Sanderson at a local convention.