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LEGO-Mania! will feature kids' works at Salt Lake City libraries

Published February 16, 2014 9:44 am

Dozens of children's creations will be on display at Salt Lake City libraries.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Other kids used their LEGOs to build airplanes and cars.

But one 8-year-old boy built a scene he titled "Average Day at School."

It included LEGO figures of SpongeBob SquarePants holding a flame thrower, Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars and an abominable snowman standing in a classroom. You know, a typical day at most Utah schools.

It's just one of dozens of LEGO creations that will go on display at Salt Lake City libraries this week as part of the system's annual LEGO-Mania! event. Kids have until the end of the day Sunday to submit LEGO works for the contest.

Because "The Lego Movie" is the No. 1 film in the country right now, Salt Lake City librarians are hoping for a particularly creative crop of projects this year.

"It's really interesting what kids come up with," said Liesl Johnson, children's services manager for The Salt Lake City Public Library System.

In the six years the library has hosted the event, a few LEGO constructions stand out in librarians' minds: a portrayal of Utah's Golden Spike National Historic Site, an alien landscape complete with aliens, and a house where LEGO figures (known as mini-figs in the world of LEGO) chatted on balconies holding refreshments.

The contest's only rule is that kids, generally up to ages 12 or 13, can submit only one project each.

"We don't want to limit their creativity at all," Johnson said.

In the contest's first year, the library received about 25 entries. Last year, that number swelled to more than 100. Some branches choose winners and others don't, but all participants get personalized ribbons.

"I think it's really fun for kids to get that recognition," said Deanna Romriell, manager of the children's department at the Main Library, "to be able to come to the library and see something made."

Of all the building materials kids could use, Johnson said she's always found LEGOs to be particularly inspiring. She said playing with blocks is a great way for kids to learn, helping them master motor skills and balance.

"I consider LEGOs to be an extension of those early skills," Johnson said.

Many parents have long felt the same way. The LEGO brick, in its present form, was launched in 1958 and has since been named Toy of the Century twice by different groups. Its name is an abbreviation of two Danish words, "leg godt," which means "play well."

Now, more than 50 years after the block was invented, it has inspired theme parks, the movie and artists around the world.

Johnson said her two boys were crazy about LEGOs growing up. Her oldest, 18, still has all his LEGOs and is saving them for his own kids, he told his mom.

Scot Junkin, who brought his kids to the Main Library on Saturday, said he'll definitely bring them back to see the projects on display. The creations will be shown at the Main Library as well as branch locations starting Tuesday through the end of March.

Junkin said his 2½-year-old son is already fascinated by the blocks.

"I took him to see 'The Lego Movie,' " Junkin said, "and he actually sat through the entire thing."

Kathy Clayton, a frequent visitor to the Main Library with her grandkids, ages 3 and 1, hopes to bring them back to see the projects, too.

"We definitely have some LEGO fans in our family so anything LEGO is bound to hold their attention," Clayton said.

Johnson said LEGO-Mania! is a natural extension of the library's goals when it comes to helping children learn and grow.

"When people think of libraries, they think of books, but we think of ourselves as so much more than that," she said. "We want to inspire and spark creativity in kids' thinking, whether it's through books or other ideas." —

LEGO-Mania! at the library

P The Salt Lake City Public Library System will continue to accept LEGO creations from kids through Sunday. The Main Library, Day-Riverside branch, and Sprague branch will be open Sunday and still accepting kids' LEGO projects. All children who participate will get personalized ribbons and their projects will be put on display starting Tuesday through the end of March.