Skip to main content
Color Me Calm: Adult Coloring and the University Library
Kansas Library Association College and University Libraries Section Proceedings
  • Heidi Blackburn, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Claire E. Chamley, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • university,
  • library,
  • academic library,
  • higher education,
  • adult coloring,
  • outreach
An activity often reserved for children, coloring books for adults rose from hipster trend to global phenomenon beginning in 2013. Adults flocked to the activity for a variety of reasons, including stress relief, socialization, a way to unplug from technology or even as a way to gain social status by appearing trendy. Participants reported enjoying the tactile, interactive nature of the books as a respite from constant screen time. Coloring books became big business for craft suppliers and bookstores by 2015. Coloring books shot to the top of the Best Sellers list on Amazon and were prominently displayed in book and craft stores. Titles with colorful mandalas, abstract designs, flora and fauna, fantasy characters, and intricate patterns took over prominent endcap and best-seller displays. Librarians responded enthusiastically to the adult coloring trend by offering programming that attracts a wide age range of patrons. Public libraries across the United States started offering monthly coloring programs and some even hosted coloring clubs that meet regularly. In early summer 2015, a local newspaper reported on adults in the Omaha-metro area joining in on the coloring fun. While a student coloring club formed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the fall, no such organization existed the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). Capitalizing on the growing adult coloring trend and local interest, Criss Library held several events entitled “Color Me Calm” during the 2015-2016 academic year, both independently and during an campus-wide event known as “De-Stress Fest.” A brief history of the adult coloring trend, the organization, and assessment of the events are shared as well as campus partnerships that were formed and recommendations for future events.
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0

Adult coloring book craze gets social tweak. (2016, January 20). CBS News. Retrieved from

Adult coloring book fad transforms into new UNL club. (2015, October 22). The Daily Nebraskan. Retrieved from

Alter, A. (2015, March 29). Grown-ups get out their crayons. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Amazon coloring books for grown ups. (2016). Books. Amazon. Retrieved from

Arnold, A. (2016, January 29). Local taproom links coloring and beer. KSN. Retrieved from

Arnold, A. (2016, January 24). Color between the wines program. The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved from

Barber, M., & Levitan, J. (2015). Balancing the books: The impact of university students' outside employment on academic performance and emotional well-being. International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, 21(3/4), 13-19.

Bella Vista Public Library. (2015). Color my world. Retrieved from

Bender, R. G. (2015, August 25). Five unique ways to handle stress that actually work. Business Insider. Retrieved from

Bennett, C. (2015, September 12). Modern tribes: the colouring-in devotee. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Berl, R. P. (2015, March 24). Coloring books for grown-ups can ease stress and calm one’s inner child. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Bridgewater Public Library. (2016, January 23). Bridgewater Public Library to hold ‘Star Wars’ coloring event. Wicked Local Bridgewater. Retrieved from

Bromwich, K. (2014, June 28). Why colouring-in books are the new therapy. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Carolan, R. & Betts, D. (2015, August 20). The adult coloring book phenomenon. The American Art Therapy Association. Retrieved on from

Cift, C. (2015, April 29). Here’s what happens when you color instead of watch TV for a week. Brit+Co. Retrieved from

Curry, N. A. & Kasser, T. (2005). Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association 22(2), 81-85. doi:10.1080/07421656.2005.10129441

Dennis, J. M., Phinney, J. S., & Chuateco, L. I. (2005). The role of motivation, parental support, and peer support in the academic success of ethnic minority first-generation college students. Journal of College Student Development, 46, 3, 223-236. doi: 10.1353/csd.2005.0023

Dovy, D. (2015, October 8). The therapeutic science of adult coloring books: How this childhood pastime helps adults relieve stress. Medical Daily. Retrieved from

Drake, J. E. & Winner, E. (2012). Confronting sadness through art-making: Distraction is more beneficial than venting. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 6(3), 255-261. doi: 10.1037/a0026909

Dredge, S. (2015, August 27). Adult colouring books? Inevitably, there’s an app for that. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Eglash, J. (2015, October 6). Coloring books aren’t just child play: Adult coloring books form hot new trend. Examiner. Retrieved from

Fialkoff, F. (2015, August 1). Dover, others, cash in on adult coloring. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Flood, A. (2015, April 5). Colouring books for adults top Amazon bestseller list. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Frank, P. (2015, July 28). Why coloring could be the new alternative to meditation. Huffington Post Arts & Culture. Retrieved from

Futch, C. J. (2015, August 19). Adult coloring sessions booming, surprisingly popular activity. The Advocate. Retrieved from

Gilan, K. (2015, September 2). What’s the science behind adult colouring in books? ninemsn COACH. Retrieved from

Grant, M. (2015, January 6). 5 Adult coloring book apps that put artistic stress reduction as your fingertips. Bustle. Retrieved from

Hagerty, J. R. & Trachtenberg, J. A. (2015, December 27). Adult coloring books test grown-ups’ ability to stay inside the lines. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

Harris County Public Library. (2014, November 4). Creative coloring for adults. Retrieved from

Hunt, J., & Eisenberg, D. (January 01, 2010). Mental health problems and help-seeking behavior among college students. Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 93, 1, 3.

Kircher, M. M. (2015, July 27). The latest trend in stress relief is adult coloring - and it may actually work. Tech Insider. Retrieved from

Kohler, G. J., Grawitch, M., & Borchert, D. (2009). Dealing with the stress of college. Adult Education Quarterly, 59, 3, 246-263.

Kokalitcheva, K. (2015, December 28). Adult coloring books are among Amazon’s top holiday sellers. Fortune. Retrieved from

Kuperinsky, A. (2015, July 31). Happy National Coloring Book Day: Adults are finding solace inside the lines. NJ Advance Media. Retrieved from

Logan, C. (2015, July 13). ‘People have been doing it. But no one was talking about it.’ Welcome to the world of coloring books - for adults. Omaha World Herald. Retrieved from

Malchiodi, C. (2015, June 30). Are you having a relationship with an adult coloring book? Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Marcotte, A. (2015, August 24). Coloring book clubs cross the line into libraries. American Libraries. Retrieved from

McAffee, M. (2015, April 24). Adult coloring books topping bestseller lists. CNN Living. Retrieved from

McAllister, G. (2016, January 6). Not just for kids: The adult coloring craze hits the Vineyard. Martha’s Vineyard Times. Retrieved from

Mondry. S. (2015, December 30). Alicia Keys is the latest adult coloring book fan. InStyle. Retrieved from

Monson, N. (2015, November 14). Why the latest coloring-book craze can be good for you. USA Today. Retrieved from

Mousey, R, Vendehey, M. A., & Diekhoff, G. M. (2013). Working and non-working university students: Anxiety, depression, and grade point average. College Student Journal, 47(2), 379-389.

Naire, V. (2015, August 27). Coloring books for grown-ups draw worldwide attention. CBS News. Retrieved from

Nudd, T. (2015, November 9). Oreo gets into the trend of adult coloring with holiday packing you can draw on. ADWEEK. Retrieved from

Painter, K. (2015, December 13). Adult coloring books promise stress relief. USA Today. Retrieved from

Palmer, L. K., Economou, P., Cruz, D., Abraham-Cook, S., Huntington, J. S., Maris, M.,…Maley, L. (2014). The relationship between stress, fatigue, and cognitive function. College Student Journal, 48(1), 198-211.

Raphel, A. (2015, July 12). Why adults are buying coloring books (for themselves). The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Ratliff, M. (2015, August 23). Relearning to color inside the lines: Adult coloring books as hobby, therapy. Winona Daily News. Retrieved on from

Roulin, N. & Bangerter, A. (2013). Extracurricular activities in young applicants’ resumes: What are the motives behind their involvement? International Journal of Psychology, 48(5), 871-880. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2012.692793

Schwedel, H. (2015, August 17). Coloring books for adults: We asked therapists for their opinions. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Skinner, S. (2016, January 18). Library hopes to prove coloring not just for kids. Gretna Breeze. Retrieved from

Starr, B. (2015, August 25). Gear guide: Zone out with adult coloring books. Visual News. Retrieved from

Vagnino, K. (2015, December 19). I tried a bunch of coloring apps, and they all miss the point. The Verge. Retrieved from

Van Grove, J. (2015, December 18). Coloring for adults, now without the crayons. The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved from

Williams, Z. (2015, June 26). Adult colouring-in books: The latest weapon against stress and anxiety. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Whitbrook, J. (2016, January 24). Even IKEA has its own adult colouring book now. Gizmodo Australia. Retrieved from

Zamon, R. (2015, July 16). Colouring books are beating out novels on the bestseller list. The Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved from

Citation Information
Heidi Blackburn and Claire E. Chamley. "Color Me Calm: Adult Coloring and the University Library"
Available at: