I’ve written before about the Tiny Book Workshops that I was doing at Stony Brook University. In an effort to gauge interest in bookbinding classes on campus, we offered a Tiny Book Workshop to test the water. The Tiny Books are small little journals that fit on a necklace or key chain, and were a fun way to attract people to bookbinding. The initial announcement went viral on a faculty Listserv, and the workshop was booked within a couple days! We offered a second date because of campus interest, and held the workshops during campus lifetime (no classes) on February 10th and 24th.
We only had a couple no-shows in each class, which was really great for us. The first class on February 10th was all faculty and staff, but the second one one the 24th was mostly undergraduates, which I was very happy to see! I prepared the paper signatures and cut decorative end pages and covers in advance. I also poked the holes that were needed, so there would be no mistakes that could waste materials. This saved a lot of time, and the attendees could concentrate on just sewing and decorating the books. I also created reference materials and a survey for every attendee, and we received a lot of wonderful and helpful feedback.
I told the first class, which was mostly faculty, that we really appreciated feedback and constructive criticism so we could improve the workshop. They all helpfully filled out the anonymous survey, and left very positive feedback. They also included some good tips and requests for future workshops. They recommended more demonstrations, and a visual aid for sewing. They also appreciated the ‘prep’ steps I did for them before the class, and requested a workshop for sewing larger books in the future. In general, everyone enjoyed the instruction and content of the class, but gave pointers to improve the structure of the workshop and flow of the workshop.
For the second workshop on the 24th, I instituted some changes based on that first feedback. I divided the bookbinding process into smaller steps, so I knew when to stop and demonstrate for everyone. I also created a visual aid for the sewing portion of the book, so after each demonstration people could refer to it if they got stuck. In between each demonstration, I walked around and helped each attendee one-on-one with their questions.
This structure worked out well for the workshop. Everyone works at different speeds with bookbinding, depending on their personal DIY and craft background. However, breaking the workshop into demonstrated steps was beneficial for everyone. Those who were quicker didn’t have to wait for everyone else to catch up, and those that were slower at least knew what their next step was going to be. I kept each demonstration short, leaving plenty of time for one-on-one help for those who needed it.
The feedback for the second workshop was all positive with no ‘negatives,’ not even constructive criticism. All comments stressed how ‘fun’, informative’, and ‘great’ it was, and everyone indicated they would be interested in more Preservation events in the future. Between the two workshops, 16 of the 17 attendees filled out our survey.
Actual Survey Results
I created a very simple survey for class attendees. We wanted to know how they rated the quality of the workshop, how likely they were to attend another one, and what other types of events they would want to attend in the future. We also asked how they heard about the workshop (for future advertising), and what their role was on campus (faculty/staff vs student). The goal of the survey was to determine how to improve the workshop, and to gauge if there was enough interest to continue offering bookbinding workshops on campus. Turns out, there is!
- 15 out of 16 respondents rated the workshop quality as “Very Good.” One person rated it “Good.”
- 15 out of 16 said they were “Very Likely” to attend another book arts workshop or events. One person said “Likely.”
“Super fun and engaging. Would love to make a larger book, too! Workshop was really helpful and Arielle was awesome!”
“Excellent! Please do more. As a first timer, the items you prepped for us was perfect. If we’d had to do everything, (trim, cut, etc…), it would have been too overwhelming.”
“This was great fun! I loved picking up a new skill over lunch, and the tiny books are immensely cool!”
These workshops proved to be a very successful experiment. This was my first time teaching a craft to a large class, and the first time I taught faculty, staff, and university students. I enjoyed it so much! It was wonderful to share bookbinding with members of the campus community, and I hope to offer more workshops in the future. Preservation Departments usually don’t interact with the public in academic libraries, and it was nice to be able to offer the community something that only we could provide.
In a couple weeks, I will be teaching two more Tiny Book workshops- to the library faculty and staff. Stay tuned 🙂
More pictures of the event are available in the Gallery.
Special thanks to Jason and Ji for being my photographers for the workshops!