Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lego Builder Club

I have been a fan of the Lego building system since I was a kid. So you can imagine my surprise when I read the July 2009 School Library Journal article about Lego Clubs in the library. This is my area of expertise, I thought, I should put together a Lego Builder Club. But I was already running multiple programs and could never fit it in. About a year later, a colleague mentioned her success with a Lego Club and I was inspired to finally put my idea into practice.

The biggest challenge to starting a Lego club is getting your hands on some Legos. Legos are notoriously expensive (they’re all shipped in from factories in Europe) so don’t plan on buying them at retail outlets unless you are well funded. The best way to acquire Legos is by soliciting for donations. This doesn’t always work because many people have a hard time giving them away, but sometimes parents don’t mind because they’re tired of stepping on them. I didn’t have much success with donations at first, and my start date was approaching, so I went with my second option. My Friends of the Library group purchased some bulk collections that I found listed on Craigslist. You can usually find people selling Legos by the pound and can get a good deal on large quantities. I learned that if you go this route you really have to move quickly because I called a couple people and they’re collections had already been sold. If you absolutely have to purchase Legos through a retail outlet, always buy the basic brick sets. These sets have no theme and usually only include different size bricks in varying colors.

When I started soliciting for donations, I also put up a sign giving the start date of the club. I built some of my old Lego sets and put them in a display case to help promote the club. The display turned into more than I originally intended as I had kids approach me about displaying their own Lego collections. So now I rotate the kids’ sets and have great promotion for my Lego Builder Club every month. The kids love to see their stuff on display and to watch the other patrons admiring their collection.

I started my Lego Builder Club in November with a limit of 25 participants, and was full at every session. After Christmas, I received some very generous donations of Legos so I expanded the club to 40 participants and I am still maintaining full capacity. The kids (and parents) truly love the program. They love to build together and share their creations with each other. And the great part is that the program practically runs itself: put the Legos out and turn the kids loose. But be prepared for the noise. The sound of Legos clattering around can drive some people crazy, but, after 30 years, it’s still music to my ears.