On Sunday, April 21 (Easter), Hennepin County libraries are closed.
Every Monday morning from 10:30 a.m. to noon patrons gather in the Commons room at Minneapolis Central for Craft Club. This newer program gives patrons the opportunity to learn and develop crafting skills. The creator of the program is librarian Mirra Neiman. Neiman says that the reason for starting Craft Club was “in direct response to patrons’ desire for a space to craft.” The program started as a small group of five to eight people crafting in the atrium twice a month. As interest grew, the group moved into the Commons. Minneapolis Central Library’s Monday Craft Club now sees an average of over 30 crafters a week.
Craft Club began in 2018 with funding through a library seed grant and Friends of the Minneapolis Central Library. The funding and donations allow for Craft Club to provide tools and supplies to patrons to complete their projects at no cost. Neiman explains that providing the tools, supplies, and storage for projects are part of the club’s purpose to “remove barriers by providing this service and to create equitable opportunity to re-unite or learn the ability to create new skills through crafts.” Several crafts are available including sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, beading, and paper crafts.
From its beginning Craft Club was made to be a welcoming and accessible environment. Craft Club sees a diverse group of patrons including New Americans, patrons experiencing homelessness, and adults with developmental disabilities. All levels of abilities and experience are welcomed to join. Neiman notes that there have been “new crafts and tools to adapt to varying abilities.” The majority of those who come in have little to no experience in crafting but learn as they go. Staff and volunteers help patrons start and check-in with them as they continue working on their projects. Patrons have also taught and guided one another through crafts.
The sense of community and empowerment from crafting keeps patrons coming back. One patron, Tahiti, shares, “The people who operate the craft club are so nice and they love helping us, and make all the arts and crafts fun… They [staff] encourage you and ensure you can do it. Where there is a will, there is a way. I love it!” Tahiti is not alone in this feeling. Many patrons comment that their joy of going to Craft Club comes from the passionate staff and the sense of empowerment they feel when they learn and complete their projects. For some patrons the empowerment generated by crafting has carried into other parts of their lives.