Cups Are All They’re Stacked Up To Be

Library stacks of a different sort

Adam Chaib in the ready-to-stack position.

At the Traverwood branch of the Ann Arbor District Library on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the room at the back of the building was awash with the colors of blue, purple, red, orange and green cups. On entering the room, the ock-ock-ock of cups getting stacked into pyramids then rapidly collapsed by small hands became audible. There were 20 or so kids from kindergarten through eighth grade at the event – enough to fill the room without making it feel cramped – which culminated in a competition with prizes awarded in the form of gift cards to Target.

Youth librarian Elizabeth Schneider, who organized the event, warmed the kids up with a little bit of cross-training: “You’re going to do it with your eyes closed, and when you’re done, do two jumping jacks!” Cup stacking itself just involves stacking and unstacking cups in various prescribed patterns. Competition is based on time.

Although the event was featured prominently on the events section of the Ann Arbor District Library website, we found plenty of people stacking cups who had just happened upon the activity on an ordinary visit to the library. Among them were Mirna Chaib and her son, Adam, who recognized the activity from his gym class at school.

Omairiana Chandler and Talaya Mathews prove that cup stacking can be a team effort.

Also there initially to visit the library’s regular stacks – of books as opposed to cups – was Karen Hague, with her granddaughters, Omairiana Chandler and Talaya Mathews. After an encounter with the cups, the two girls were ready to head off to find princess books, which is what they had really come for.

And Randy Clepper, who was documenting photographically the cup-stacking efforts of his two daughters, didn’t drive his family all the way from Columbus, Ohio, just to stack cups at the Traverwood branch of the Ann Arbor District Library. They were spending Thanksgiving weekend visiting his sister-in-law’s family in Ann Arbor, and the visit to the library seemed to have been planned independently of the cup-stacking opportunity. Clepper said that his daughters, who had been introduced to the activity at school, had a set of cups at home and practiced from time to time, but not every day.

Still, in the two categories of competition – with places 1-2-3 for each – representatives from Clepper’s clan took three of the six placings: Erin Clepper, 3rd place for the cycle; Gina Clepper, 2nd place for the 3-6-3 stack; Teresa Grijalva (the Cleppers’ cousin) 1st place for the 3-6-3 stack.

Incidentally, there were some folks there who did find out about the event through the library’s website: John and Celeste Choate, who were there with their daughter, Kathryn. Celeste is associate director of the Ann Arbor District Library, but said it wasn’t some internal memo, or special insider word of mouth that led her to discover the event. She actually found out about it by looking at the website.

Kathryn Choate completes a purple pyramind to match her sweater.

Gina Clepper practices the cycle stack after her competitive effort in the 3-6-3, which earned her a second place.

Erin Clepper's hands turn blue cups into blue blurs as she competes in the cycle stack. Her 16.8 second effort earned her third place.

Kathyrn Choat concentrates on her cups.