Connect, Create, Collaborate: A Makerspace Serving New Adults

HaroldWashingtonLibrary-004There have already been several posts on this blog about Maker Spaces. Remember this one from October where blogger Candice Mack describes her own experience at getting more familiar with the Makerscene?

Among up-and-coming Maker Spaces, one new kid on the block is Chicago Public Library. I had a chance to speak with Ruth Lednicer, Director of Marketing on Press, on plans for their new hands-on learning environment. If you will be attending ALA’s upcoming annual conference this June, you should get a sneak peak if you visit the Harold Washington Library, the central library for the Chicago Public system.

Let’s take a look to see how this space will work and who the audience will be!

The Maker Space at Chicago Public will be located on the third floor of the Harold Washington Library Center (YOUmedia is on the first floor). While the space will have activities for all ages, there will be a emphasis on the ‘new adult’. Their targets will be those that have graduated high school (and thus moved beyond YOUmedia) and are seeking  to further build skills, even developing those that could lead to a career.

In December 2012, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced a grant to support a Makerspace at Chicago Public Library. Major partners include the Museum of Science and Industry, the STEM & Entrepreneurship Exchange and a host of other organizations, many in advisory positions. Also involved are Chicago Public Library’s, YOUmedia, Pumping Station: One, Free Geek Chicago, Northwestern University, Columbia College, Ann Arbor District Library, New York Public Library, and Westport Public Library.

Lednicer says that the intention for their Maker Space is to be an entry level introduction and stepping-off point for interested people who can then connect with other organizations in Chicago to further their making experiences. Since product manufacturing and development is a great skill to have, and YOUmedia gives teens the opportunity to practice their digital media interests, this new Maker Space seemed a logical extension on the library’s part.

The opening of the Maker Space is planned for the summer of 2013. Attendees of ALA (as well as anyone that might want to visit this great city!) should have the opportunity to visit this dynamic new area there.

What new takes has your library taken on the Maker Space environment? Let us know in the comments.

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