Stuff Online and in a Box! – CSL Kits – Bag of Tricks

Generally my Bag of Tricks series concentrates on online tools you can use in some part of your library world, be it helping patrons or yourself complete a library-related task. On this outing, I would like to highlight a resource that is partly online, but mostly in the physical realm. Our very own Colorado State Library offers kits that bundle tools and materials so you can roll out new and exciting programming.

There are three types of CSLKits featured on the CSL Kits website (

The Let’s Learn and Play!: CSL Storytime Kits are baby and toddler storytime kits based on Every Child Ready to Read and feature books, songs, rhymes, early literacy tips for parents, and hands-on activities that correspond with the critical early literacy activities of reading, talking, singing, writing, and playing.

The Let’s Learn About It!: CSL STEAM Kits (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) include archaeology, fossils, book folding, music, and special kits designed by NASA. The complete folder of activities and resources, streamable videos, and downloadable templates are available on the website.

The Let’s talk about it! : CSL Big Red Resource Kits are my personal favorite (well, the Be A NASA Detective kit is a close second…Yes, I still want to be an astronaut when I grow up). These kits are designed to help library staff better understand and serve traditionally under-served populations and to give staff the tools needed to host and facilitate critical community conversations. Like the Let’s Learn About It! kits, the complete folder of activities, resources, streamables, and downloadables is available online and the actual borrowable big red box has books, DVDs, games, and other hands-on materials. The most significant part of each kit is the section on community conversations. Each kit includes the book Fostering Dialogue Across Divides and a digital copy of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation’s Resource Guide on Public Engagement. One of the aims of the Let’s Talk About It! Kits is to establish the library as a place for civil dialogue in our communities. There are a lot of methods out there for facilitating community conversations, and having resources on different types and styles can help you find what works for you and your community. As it happens, April 5-13, 2019 is the National Week of Conversation. With the goal of civic dialogue, there are in-person and virtual conversations going on exploring many topics of interest. Learn more about the National Week of Conversation here and about Civic Conversation in Libraries here.

Staff in Colorado libraries may check out kits directly from the State Library through the CSL AspenCat catalog at and we will send your desired kit to you through the courier. You don’t have to be an AspenCat library to take part in borrowing the physical kit, but you do need to create an account for the Colorado Book Club Resource.  Each kit has a loan period of two months and may be renewed if no one else is waiting for it. If you have questions or need assistance, contact (303-866-6900) with questions.

As we talked about in other parts of this Bag of Tricks series, having resources at your fingertips and a basic familiarity with up-and-coming technology can come in very handy for better serving patrons and can also give you a bit more confidence. You might want to put CSL Kits in a different part of your Bag of Tricks than usual. In my Bag of Tricks (, I put it under Hands-on resources.

Kieran Hixon
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