Adult coloring books come to Rutgers Art Library
In less than a month, the Rutgers Art Library gave away 500 coloring books to University students.
Megan Lotts, the University art librarian, illustrated and wrote the Art Library Coloring Book to educate students and faculty about the resources made available by the art library, she said.
“This is a hands-on, self-driven way for students, faculty or staff to learn where they don’t need me to be present,” Lotts said.
The project educates people about the library and lets them have fun at the same time, she said.
Coloring book activities at universities have taken the country by storm.
Harvard University hosted a “freshman health week” incorporating coloring book activities to much success. Pennsylvania State University has also praised the benefits of coloring books, The Daily Collegian reported.
Two studies from the National Institute of Health found that art therapy helped decrease physical and emotional distress and comforted cancer patients, according to medicaldaily.com.
Lotts described the feedback from the initiative as "spectacular."
Before the books were even released, students asked to be sent copies if they could not make the event, Lotts said. Copies were sent to all five University campuses during their distribution run.
Lotts created the coloring book as a part of her research to create engaging activities within libraries. Her focus in particular is the idea of post-consumption, how products are created and consumed by individuals.
Her research also includes universal design learning, which is an all-inclusive way of learning and thinking. Lotts said it is clearly present in a project like this.
Lotts has a master’s degree as a painter and installation artist. This project involves a fusion of her two interests, which she said are especially rewarding.
“This is for me, a really interesting intersection between who I am as an artist and who I am as a faculty member and librarian,” she said.
The coloring books are not exclusively for the Art Library. Lotts has partnered with the Douglass Psychology Child Study Center and donated about 30 books for the children to use. Through this, the kids are coloring and learning about the Art Library.
What makes this initiative unique, Lotts said, is that it is not “up in your face” and intrusive.
Lotts recognized that a lot of students on campus receive a “one-shot” bibliographic course where librarians lecture students about databases and resources, which she said is difficult to learn from.
“If you’re a student here on campus, I’m sure you could tell me all about some of the boring classes and lectures you sit through,” Lotts said.
The coloring book program is a way to “have fun in higher education,” which Lotts said is sorely needed.
Rutgers is a top 10 research institution but lacks room for experimentation and play, Lotts said. The library is one place where that can be made possible.
Lotts wants an all-inclusive community for the Art Library, so more students use the library as a resource including a place of respite, she said.
Lotts said she hopes to share the "maker and creativity culture” with more students at the University.
“If I gave you the option, would you want to read this 20-page essay or would you want to sit down and color for about an hour and learn about the same topic through coloring?” Lotts said. “I think it’s a no-brainer.”
Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @bushrafhasan for more.