Building New Skills and Creating Community

by Sarah Kuntz Jones, Adult Programming Coordinator, St. Louis County Library

Patrons often ask for beginning painting or drawing classes, but with the limitations of a library branch’s time, space, and budget, it can be difficult to find an instructor. Creativebug’s multi-part classes have been a great way to meet those community needs without straining branch resources or requiring programmers to be experts in a given area.

Lisa Congdon’s Basic Line Drawing works well for a library drawing program. Lisa’s approach is perfect for beginners, and the supply list is adaptable to almost any budget. At a minimum, the class requires a pencil and paper–from there, the possibilities are broad.


In preparation for this class series, for which I set the registration cap at 16 people per session, I evaluated how best to approach the supply list. I wanted to allow participants to have good paper and the chance to check out some of the supplies Lisa recommends. I familiarized myself with the tutorials to understand how the supplies were used to see what could be subbed out for materials we already had.

Ultimately, I bought:

  • Two mixed-media sketchbooks with perforated pages
  • Pink Pearl erasers
  • White gel pens
  • A couple of micron pens for patrons to test out

The rest I borrowed from the branch stash:

  • Fine-tipped Sharpies (instead of micron pens)
  • No. 2 pencils

I also printed the reference image PDFs for each of the four parts. Part 3 calls for vintage black and white photos, so I printed images from Creative Commons for the participants to work with. To support the class, I built a bibliography of drawing resources, including Creativebug classes, and a survey.

It can take about 8.5 hours to prep for this class series:

  • Watching/skimming the tutorials – 5 hours or less
  • Shopping for supplies – ½ hour
  • Finding vintage photos – 1 hour
  • Prepping the resources PDF and pulling drawing books – 1 hour
  • Printing reference images and making copies – ½ hour
  • Room set-up – ½ hour


This class was promoted through our monthly brochure and other branch programs. This proved to be a good strategy to manage the demand for spaces since the program registration caps were lower. 


For each program session, the room was set classroom style with an additional table of drawing books available for checkout and marketing material along with a laptop, projector, and screen. Each week, I walked through the steps to accessing Creativebug through the library’s website before starting Lisa’s tutorial. The video was paused occasionally while the participants completed the exercises, and I would move around the room, offering encouragement and suggestions to help everyone feel more comfortable. About 10-12 people routinely attended, and they were mostly the same faces. This gave the participants the chance to get to know each other and build connections while also adding to their drawing skills.


After each program, I emailed registrants a PDF of the resource list, including the links to the Creativebug courses and the post-program survey. Participants were encouraged to explore the Creativebug class gallery and upload their own work, too.

The multipart classes are a great way to help library patrons grow more comfortable with their creative abilities and allow them to get to know one another in a supportive, creative environment.

This formula works well with multi-part and daily practice classes. Some other classes that would work with this formula are…