Being a MacGyver Librarian – Creative Problem Solving When Budgets Shrink.

We’ve all been here, right? Shrinking budgets has necessitated many of us becoming Librarian-MacGyvers. We learn how to get creative, crafty, and use our considerable problem solving skills to come up with innovative (and cost-effective) solutions to many of our needs. Here are some of my favorite creative solutions and re-purposing hacks. Hopefully you may find some of these things helpful. And I’d love to hear from you on any great MacGyver-y library hacks you’ve come up.

  1. Repurposing old magazine holders
    1. I don’t know about you, but I have hundreds of these plastic magazine holders taking up storage space. One way I use them, is to put them behind the books, so the books are pushed forward on the shelf (and are therefore easier to see). Since they are plastic, they won’t provide good breeding and feeding zones for pests of any kind!
    2. 64AA9312-2694-4B27-BF6A-5F24AE1CD1D531E437E5-9B48-4ED8-94BA-C1F62D680E60
  2. Clear sticky-back shelves for displaying in unusual spaces
    1. I have this one whole section of my library where there are no bookshelves whatsoever. I was trying to figure out a way to display books back there, and figured I’d have to purchase some kind of display shelving (which would be expensive), when I stumbled upon these clear sticky-back “shelves.” They were super cheap, and worked like a charm creating display areas pretty much anywhere in the library 🙂  Here is the link to the ones I purchased on amazon.
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  3. Brochure Holders as Bookmark Displays
    1. This is one I’m sure many others have figured out as well, but just in case, I’ll share it here. Pamphlet or brochure holders make excellent bookmark holders!
    1. This is the link to the one I purchased
  4. Use Weeded books for … pretty much everything!
    1. We use weeded books for so many things:
      1. Maker activities like book trees, bookmarks, corner bookmarks, building challenges, book folding challenges, “create a book dominoes chain” challenges, etc.
      2. A0127501-A7CB-43B8-B2C4-DAC5FEA6CCE8.jpeg
      3. I’m also intending on using them as shelf dividers/labels in my nonfiction section.  A lot of people use empty magazine holders or binders for this as well! (In the picture below you can see what I mean by “shelf dividers” where another librarian used magazine holders to divide the shelf. I’m going to use some of my big weeded reference tomes for this purpose!)
      4. Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 2.30.25 PM.png
  5. Plastic clothes hangers + binder clips = poster storage
    1. This idea was completely inspired by another librarian on the facebook boards! I cannot find her original post but she shared the idea of using pants hangers to store posters.  I went to purchase a bunch of pants hangers but found they were too costly for me. So I purchased cheap plastic regular hangers and then used binder clips to turn them into “pants hangers.”
    2. I had this extra closet rod sitting unused in my basement, and my storage room had two bookcases that were the correct distance apart from each other to allow me to easily mount the rod between them. And voila! Easy, peasey, poster and display storage!
    3. 3d8da926-d0ae-4e9f-a1e0-33a7bd533471.jpeg 2563FF31-E333-49C9-ACC0-2E1CEB787750
  6. Old bulletin board = excellent puzzle foundation!
    1. When I decided to add brain break activities to the library last year, I knew I wanted to add a community jigsaw puzzle station. I was concerned about pieces easily sliding off to the floor if it was just on a table, though. I also didn’t want to commit a whole table to only ever being able to be used for the puzzle. Luckily we had an extra bulletin board laying around. The frame of the board keeps the puzzle together beautifully, and its really easy to move it around. Many of my students actually like putting it on the floor to work on it, so that works out great.
    2. 83EE4548-D833-4D42-86F7-63E24CA027B7
  7. Use colored duct tape to create borders on displays.
    1. I love using colored duct tape (actually I usually buy 3M) as borders on my displays. Not only does it look good, but it keeps things in place lol.
    2. bef20569-2a0c-4281-9990-34522c36d159.jpeg
  8. Colorful wrapping paper makes excellent backgrounds
    1. When painting is not an option, I’ve found that wrapping paper and colored tape are an excellent alternative for adding bursts of color to the library. I used colored wrapping papers to cover the backs of my bookcases when I genre-fied this year. I can’t believe how much it impacts the whole vibe of the space!
    2. 5E64B4F9-39E5-426A-A025-0665EE20DEA8
  9. Bookends when you don’t have book display stands
    1. This is another one I’m sure many librarians already know, but I’ll share it anyway.
    2. I never have enough actual book display stands, so I end up using our extra book ends for this purpose. The metal ones can be bent back a little bit, which allows it to comfortable prop the display books up.
    3. 748C914C-C3E9-42C3-BD1E-791C9E8E5A16
    4. I use the book ends to display signage as well. For instance, all of my genre signs are standing up thanks to book ends 🙂
    5. Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 2.48.09 PM

What MacGyver Librarian hacks are you using at your library?

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