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 (thank you, employer!!!).
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.