If the empty arts and crafts shelves in some local stores is any indication, people have turned to art projects to help keep themselves busy during the stay-home order prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Spokane County Library District is helping address the need for creative expression by adding a new program to its online offerings – Creativebug. The online service offers instructional videos for everything from painting to knitting to jewelry making. The new offering is expected to be popular.
“We do have a really strong creative community in Spokane,” said Digital Service Manager Carlie Hoffman.
The library district was approached by Creativebug, which is co-owned by Joann Fabrics and Crafts, last year to see if the district was interested in offering it to its patrons, Hoffman said. “We did do a trial of it and our staff really liked it,” she said.
At the time, however, the district couldn’t afford the program, Hoffman said. But voters approved a levy lid lift at the ballot box this year that included extra money for digital offerings. “We looked at it again this year and did another trial,” she said.
The trial started about the time everything shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Hoffman switched to high gear on a process that usually takes at least six weeks.
“I hurried up and purchased it as fast as I could,” she said. “I think we got everything done in three (weeks).”
People may visit the district’s website at scld.org/digital-library and use their library card number to sign in to Creativebug for free. The classes available can be searched by topic and filtered by experience level.
Once someone has signed up, they can customize their experience by telling the service what topics they are interested in and get notifications whenever new content is added in those subjects.
“They’re updating things constantly,” she said.
Creativebug is class-based, and each class is broken up into video chapters that vary in length.
“You can jump in and jump out,” Hoffman said. “You can watch as many times as you want. There are also patterns you can download.”
The experience can also be interactive. People are able to ask questions and have discussions as well as post photos of projects when they are finished. It’s tapping into this community of other members.”
The site has something to interest just about anyone, including quilters and those looking for home decor projects. There’s also a special section for children and a calendar people can check to see what classes are coming up that they might be interested in.
The instructors are all knowledgeable and the videos are well done, Hoffman sad. “They’re professional videos,” she said. “it’s really good production. These are definitely experts in the field.”
Some classes are organized a bit differently and have daily practice sessions that can stretch over 30 days, Hoffman said. “Every day you go in and build on a skill,” she said. “Some days it’s only a few minutes. It’s definitely a deep dive, but piece by piece so it’s less daunting.”
In the first three weeks after Creativebug was launched on the district’s website, 230 users signed up. Those users watched 324 class sessions during that time. Since library branches are closed Hoffman said she hasn’t received much feedback from library patrons about the service, but she has gotten some rave reviews.
“Staff are loving it,” she said.
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