Which Cricut machine is right for my school library?
Are you wanting a Cricut machine for your school library? Maybe you’ve heard others talk about how helpful they are or the displays they’ve created with a Cricut. Maybe you already have one and are wanting to upgrade. If you are not sure if a Cricut machine is right for your school library, you might like to start with my Cutting Machines post, where I explore what a Cricut is, what you can do with it and why you might like one for your school library.
But, if you are ready to purchase and just not sure which machine to choose, read on.
I love having a Cricut machine in my school library. Over my time in school libraries I have had and used all the different types of machines, from the very early and now outdated Expression, to the tiny but powerful Joy and the super Maker 3 and a few others in between.
In this post, I’ll explore the current Cricut machines and help you decide which one you should purchase for your school library.
Which Cricut machine should I choose?
Well, you are spoilt for choice. Don’t forget, Cricut is a brand. There are other cutting machine brands out there. You might like to explore what Silhouette offer. I’ve always used Cricuts, so I’ve always stuck with Cricuts.
Cricut currently has three main cutting machines – Joy, Explore and Maker. Cricut also produces heat presses, mug presses and other tools.
Canva for School Library Staff – Getting Started
Working in a school library is busy. Never a dull moment and a job that can see you doing everything from sharing the new resources you’ve just catalogued, writing a newsletter, posting to social media or creating displays. To get everything done, we need great tools to help. If you are looking for an online tool that will help you manage all the above plus so, so, so much more then you need Canva in your life.
What is Canva?
It might be easier to tell you what Canva isn’t than what it is because it does so much! Every time I use it, I learn about a new tool or feature. But basically, Canva is an online graphic design platform. Using the online platform, you can create anything, with templates for everything from social media graphics to resumes, posters and websites. Canva is also a publishing tool – it allows you to plan and post content to social media channels, share with others for online collaboration or will print products for you. Did you know that Canva was started by two Australian design students? Their goal was to make design easy and accessible for everyone. You can learn more about Canva here.
If you work in a school library like I do, you are probably always on the look out for tools and software that make your life easier. When I am limited in time but want to achieve big things, I need great resources to help me get things done. That’s why I jumped at the chance to trial and review Visme. I was provided with four months access to a business account in exchange for an honest review. I’ve looked at this platform from a school library staff member’s perspective.
What is Visme?
Visme is an online platform for creating graphic designs, presentations, documents, charts and survey results, videos and anything where you need to combine great design with visual communication. You can find out more about Visme here.
Supporting Wellbeing in the School Library
How do we support wellbeing in our school libraries? When I started to put together a webinar and article on the topic I discovered there were far too many aspects of supporting wellbeing, too many resources and tips to be able to fit into a short webinar or article, so here is a collection of links, webinars, podcasts and more on the topic. Have something you want to add? I’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch.
Dr Margaret Merga offers many wonderful insights into the importance of school libraries. Her article How Can School Libraries Support Student Wellbeing? Evidence and Implications for Further Research explores how the school library is a safe space, offers resources to support mental health and wellbeing, and how reading for pleasure can have great effect on wellbeing.
Refurbishing a Cricut Machine
I have been fortunate to have a Cricut machine in each of my past 3 libraries. I love them. I love getting creative, love how these machines can make displays, signage and crafting activities easy. So, I was excited and – let’s be honest – relieved when my new library said they had a Cricut machine.
However, I was a little shocked when the Library team mentioned that they didn’t use it and found it easier to cut things by hand. Seriously? That didn’t make any sense to me. It only took the first time me getting it out to use it to understand where exactly they were coming from and why they were finding it so frustrating. I found it frustrating! It took longer than it should and even making a simple project wasn’t easy. Why? The machine had been given to the team without the proper tools and with no training or instruction. The mats were old and either had left over paper struck to them or had lost their stick altogether. And the team had only ever been told to use it with an iPad rather than on a desktop. It was like trying to use the machine with our hands tied behind our backs. Completely impractical and a waste of time.
Thanks to having used a Cricut before, I knew what it could and should be like. And I knew I could refurbish the machine to make it fun and easy to use. Here’s what I did.
How to update a machine
If you’ve decided to purchase a secondhand machine or have inherited an older machine for your library, here’s a few simple steps and tips to get the machine running again smoothly and so you can enjoy using it.
These tips are not going to help a machine that isn’t functioning properly – I leave that to someone with technological and mechanical knowledge, but these should help you get the basics of the machine working well.
Not sure if a Cricut is right for your Library? Check out my post Cutting machines in the Library which goes into the pros and cons.
New Shelf Dividers
It was time for an upgrade. Our library has been using cardboard boxes as shelf dividers for a while now. As our collection grows, the shelves get tighter and the boxes were taking up valuable real estate. They were also looking a little tired, not to mention the empty boxes made the perfect hiding space for students to stash books, rubbish or Easter eggs (I kid you not, the whole thing was in there all crumbled up. What a waste of chocolate!!).
So, we invested in some new acrylic shelf dividers. We purchased them from Syba Signs. While Syba sell the vinyl to stick on the dividers in a range of colours and labels, we wanted to completely control the font and colours, and customise them to our collections. Fortunately, we have a Cricut machine in the library, which can cut vinyl.
Library Display Furniture and Equipment
If you have had a look around my blog you know that I love creating displays in our school library. Colourful, interactive, fun – whatever gets the books off the shelves and into the students’ hands. I am always on the lookout for new ways to present and create displays and I recently put the call out to my fellow librarians and asked them what their favourite display furniture and equipment was. Here is a quick list of things I and other librarians have used in libraries to create and present library displays.
Electronic Cutting Machines in the Library
Cutting and crafting machines are all the rage in crafting circles. But can they be used effectively in a library? Library displays, decoration, events, marketing, makerspaces – the library is ripe with perfect opportunities to utilise such a machine.
Our library has been very fortunate to have had the use of a personal Cricut machine and has now purchased a new Cricut machine for use in the library.
So, is it worth it?
2017 Penguin Random House Teachers’ Catalogue
The Penguin Random House Australia Teachers’ Catalogue is a fantastic resource. As a librarian I am always on the lookout for new resources to better improve my own practice, as well as ensure that the literature that I am recommending to readers is both up-to date and first class. The Penguin Teachers’ Catalogue offers that and more.
The catalogue is divided into five main sections. The first, Feature Articles, offers a range of articles about reading and publishing trends, from short stories to coding.
The second section is divided into reading stages, from Early Years right up to Years 11 and 12 in Stage 6. Each of these Stage chapters presents newly published titles, reviews, author/illustrator insights and even activity ideas.
The third section of the Teachers’ Catalogue offers a comprehensive guide to the DK book range and new titles, grouped by subject. The short fourth section offers a range of titles for professional development, while the fifth and last section, Curriculum Resources is a curated titles lists by subject or focus, such as titles with Indigenous themes or those that feature STEM themes.
I have found the curriculum resources lists particularly helpful, especially when designing promotions for special events or compiling resource lists for particular topics. And the activity ideas, such as the the Hungry Caterpillar finger puppets, are also fantastic resources.
For a limited time, teachers and librarians may subscribe to the Penguin Teacher’s Newsletter and receive a free copy of the Teachers’ Catalogue. See the Penguin Teachers’ website for more information.