Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cricut and Libraries Part II: Electric Boogaloo

I wanted to share what I think are the must-haves for a public library wanting to use a Cricut in the youth department. Hopefully this will be helpful to some of you who already have one or those of you who might have one on your wish list.

1. A Cricut machine. For library use, you're definitely going to want to get the largest size they sell. Currently that is the Expression, which is capable of cutting items at up to 12" by 24". I have the original Expression but they recently released a 2nd version of the Expression. You will have to compare them yourselves as I haven't seen the new one anywhere, but it's something to keep in mind.

2. Cutting mats. All Cricut accessories and cartridges are extremely expensive so you are going to want to shop around for a good deal. The mats don't last particularly long either, although some users have had good luck "resticking" their mats with various techniques. You can Google around for some ideas and experiment for yourself. I have found it somewhat cheaper to buy a bunch of the 12" by 24" mats and cut them in half with our paper cutter. Definitely shop around for a good deal.

3. Cartridges. Most likely your Cricut will come with Plantin Schoolbook and a shapes cartridge. For youth departments, I would strongly recommend picking up another font cartridge (we use the Seasame Street Font "Sunny Day" on almost everything) and several shape cartridges. I think Create-a-Critter is my favorite shape cartridge. We have also heavily used Carousel (a Walmart exclusive) for making projects to promote our biggest program: our annual Carnival at the end of summer reading. I also recommend Paper Doll Dress-Up and Every Day Paper Dolls for making people (I prefer dress-up, so if you can only get one of the two, get that one!) I would also take a look at Locker Talk and/or My Community. Again, check different stores to see where the best deals are.

Another option for a good deal is to look at Cricut's page for educators. Right now they are offering a Cricut Expression with 10 cartridges for $399. Of course, this deal is only a good one if you will use all the cartridges enough. This would be a wonderful purchase by a Friends group.

You may have someone in your patron circle who has a Cricut so ask around, particularly if you have a local scrapbooking store or club. They might be willing to bring it in and let you try it. The other nice thing about the Cricut website is you can look at all the options online with their digital handbooks as there isn't enough room to have all the images on the back of the cartridge boxes. They also have a wonderful message board (including an Educators section, which I haunt) full of ideas.

Don't miss yesterday's post about my experience with my Cricut Expression at home and at work. Our completed projects are tagged with Cricut.

**I am not being compensated in any way for writing these posts. These are my personal opinions. If you have any further questions, please email me. **

I know some of you commented on yesterday's post that you have a Cricut or are thinking of getting one. I'd love to hear from others.

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