Interview with Megan Lotts about Art Library Coloring Books

During the Fall 2016 semester, the Art Library distributed a unique coloring book to introduce students to the library’s services and spaces. Drawing on her fine art and graphic design skills, Megan Lotts illustrated and wrote the Art Library Coloring Book to connect in a creative and fun way with students and to educate individuals about the resources and possibilities available at the Art Library. I touched base with Megan about the inspiration behind this project and the response so far.

Jessica Pellien: What inspired you to start this project?

Megan Lotts: There are several reasons I undertook this project: I’m always looking for ways to connect with the departments that I liaise, and 3/4 of the individuals that I liaise to are makers, so this is a great way to connect with them. I’ve also been researching a fair amount about play and how to incorporate playing educational experiences inside and outside of the classroom. I would also say that I LOVE to color. I’m an only child, so I’ve spent a lot of time coloring, making, etc. And lastly, I’m tired of hearing students talk about how boring their one shot bibliography session was. I’ve never heard anyone walk away from a library session saying, man life is going to be great now that I know to use the EBSCOhost database. I believe it’s important to share in a conceptual way what the libraries are about & what can happen in a library.

JP: What was the process like to create the coloring book?

ML: I came up with an idea of what I thought patrons should know about the Art Library. Then I began making drawings, based on the space. After the initial drawings I worked with a variety of individuals, including faculty, students, and staff at Rutgers, as well as colleagues from other universities to fine tune the coloring book. I also worked with New Brunswick libraries administration to get approval and funding for the project and with the communications department on proofreading and the placement of the Libraries’ logo.

JP: How did your background in art help you?

ML: I’ve been an artist for over 20 years, trained as a painter, but I would consider myself a conceptual or installation artist, because I generally make site specific works, or conceptual projects that engage the user. In the case of the Art Library coloring book, the viewer or participant add the color to the artworks.

JP: Did this project require any special skills or resources?

ML: I used, pen, paper, and when needed I referred to images of the library I had taken or to the physical space. To put the book together, I used Microsoft publisher, because that was a program that I knew the Libraries’ printing department would be able to work with.

JP: How did you promote the coloring book to your users?

ML: All total, we printed 500 booklets and we also purchased small crayon packets which I labeled with stickers. We hosted a free, public pop-up making event in October at which we handed out coloring books and crayons. We also had some snacks to further entice people to participate. We encouraged users to share their coloring with us on social media, using the hashtag #RutgersColoring. We posted pages from coloring books, as well. Rutgers Today made a video about the coloring book and there were a lot of positive responses on social media from other Rutgers and library groups.

JP: How has the response been so far?

ML: I work in a very organic fashion and I never assume that a project I undertake will have a positive impact. However, I can report, that since I started this project I have had nothing but positive feedback from faculty, staff, and students. Many individuals have indicated they would like a similar coloring book for their library or campus department and have asked me how they would go about making one.

If you have a unique project to share, please let us know. We’d love to feature it in an upcoming issue of The Agenda.

Jessica Pellien