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A Crafty Special Library – Do we need one?

Hi Everyone,

When you first hear the word ‘library’ , do you think of architectural master pieces, places that are cosy and warm, a community hub or places of torture (because you really didn’t like school or study)?

In this digital age, what if we had a library dedicated to all things crafty? I’ve been mulling around with this idea and question for a little while now. If it is possible, how would it work? If not, why? Alternatively, do we really need one? Before I go any further though and ask a lot more questions, I need to specify what a special library is, so that we’re all on the same page!

A special library focuses on a specific subject such as law, town planning and design, architecture, medical science, astronomy etc. and that library provides services that are specific to that subject. Also, the library can be part of an organisation such as a hospital or law firm or government department. Or it can be a stand alone library, relying upon community and government support. For example, employees at a hospital that has a library, can access it to aid their diagnosis of a patient or increase their knowledge and awareness of improvements and changes in their fields through the consuming of sources provided by their library. Additionally, some special libraries are open to the general public.

For the most part, special libraries work much like any other library with regards to the services and variety of formats the information you need and want. For example, you can borrow various items from the library for a set time period and you will be required to return the item by the due date. Or if it’s a digital item, your access to that item expires on a set date. You can also request information from other libraries if your library doesn’t have the item you want/need. Additionally, the staff can assist you with your information gathering requirements by assisting with your searches or conducting the searches upon your behalf.

Special library questions

So, with these things in mind, I have a lot of questions about how a special library would work for all things crafty:

  • Would there be physical locations in community spaces to enable people to catch up and do stitch ‘n’ bitch, learn new crafty techniques, monthly stitch-a-longs etc?
  • How would the collections be developed? E.g. donations, purchases.
  • Who would run it? E.g. volunteers or paid employees or both or another variation?
  • How would copyright issues be taken care of?
  • Would people be able to make acquisition recommendations?
  • How would culling/weeding the collection be handled?
  • Would patrons be able to purchase the culled items or would they be donated to places like the National Library of Australia?
  • Could there be a need for branches around the world that are regional specific or country specific?
  • If yes, how would inter-library-loans work – especially if copyright comes into play?
  • How could social media help?
  • Do we use the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress way of organising the collections?
  • How would it be funded?
  • Is it necessary for it to be funded?
  • Could community grants help in any way?
  • Does it even have to be called a library? If not, what would it be called instead?
  • How would it be marketed/promoted?

Have I missed anything? What questions do you have?

Why would a crafty library not work?

  • Copyright over various jurisdictions?
  • Other legal issues I’m not aware of.
  • Issues with over-due fees and currency differences between countries?
  • Time zones?
  • Miscommunication due to language barriers and slang? E.g. Needle minders aka needle nannies, floss aka skeins aka threads etc.
  • Funding could be an issue.
  • Long-term there could be issues with employee turn-over.
  • Lack of interest or support from communities?
  • Cost of insurance covering public liability?
  • Work, Health and Safety issues relating to glues, hot objects, sharp objects, choking hazards (to name a few) – which could be covered by placing age restrictions on who can do what?
  • Upfront and ongoing costs associated with security, temperature control, location, accessibility, fit-outs, maintenance and equipment purchases to name a few?

Do any crafty special libraries exist already?

I’ve conducted some searches online to see if there’s anything out there and I’ve had very limited success. The search terms I used were:

  • Embroidery Library – which brought up a website with the same name. Which turns out to be an online shop, rather than a library in the traditional sense.
  • Craft Special Library – which brought up sites for various libraries who have or are conducting a variety of craft programs for children as part of their school holiday programs.
  • Cross Stitch Library – This search term brought up The Antique Pattern Library and my heart skipped a beat when I clicked on this site! The way this website is setup is what I’ve had in mind for how a special crafty library would look.

Does it have to be a crafty library in the traditional sense?

As I’ve been drafting and preparing this post, one of the key things that has been sitting in the back of my mind, is that all of us have our own versions of a crafty library – we just happen to call it our collections or our stashes! Additionally, we have a variety of different ways of organising our collections and many stitcher’s have shared with us, their ways of organising their collections. Below is just a sample of how:

YouTube clip by Ardith Deisgn published on 6 September 2018
YouTube clip by Harvey’s Corner published on 20 March 2015
YouTube clip by Stitching Mae published on 3 July 2014
YouTube clip by The Evergreen Needle published on 3 February 2016

I am however, stumped on how would we share our collections in terms of the patterns and kits that we no longer want or need? Would it be in the form of gifting them them to those who want them? What about the patterns and kits we have already stitched, that others really want to stitch, but the patterns are out of print and are no longer commercially available? Could a monthly catch-up work and we do a stash trade or swap? E.g. I’ll give you that pattern if you give me that fabric or I’m missing a particular floss colour and I’ll give you a lesson on something for that floss colour.

Final thoughts – Lots of questions. Not many answers.

Thank you for bearing with me for this post. I know I’ve asked a lot of questions with very few answers. I’ve also just scratched the surface for how all of this could work if it were considered to be possible and practical. A one-stop-shop could be a cool way of bringing people together like general libraries do. I appreciate that we are already connecting via social media and sharing our stories and passions and to some extent we are organised in the way that we go about it. I’m just curious about whether there is a revamp needed or a different way of pooling our resources. So I am very interested in what you think about all of this and I will greatly appreciate any comments you can provide.

Until next time, happy stitching!


I am an avid cross stitcher. I was first introduced to cross stitch when I was primary school age. Paused for while during my teens and then took it up again in my early/mid 20's and I haven't looked back. To mitigate the amount of time I'm sitting down stitching, I'm a regular member of the gym and I'm a runner. To keep me motivated, I participate in short to medium length fun runs. Which at times feel torturous, but I feel really good at the end of them! With these activities in mind, this blog is about the combination of my experiences with running and cross stitch and encouraging people to think differently about cross stitch - it's not just Grandma's who do this anymore!