Connect, Create, Collaborate: Sparking the Maker Movement at your Library

A makerspace (sometimes also referred to as a hackerspace, hackspace or hacklab) is a location where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, electronics, engineering, and/or digital or electronic art, can connect, create and collaborate. Makerspaces can be viewed as open community labs incorporating elements of machine shops, workshops, and/or studios where hackers and makers come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things.

Many libraries have embraced the maker movement and have incorporated makerspaces into the services they provide as they both encourage community building, skill sharing, participatory learning and the concepts of scientific and technological savvy as 21st century literacies.

Photo of Arduino, breadboard & blinky LED

In the past year and a half or so, encouraged by my fiance who is a hardware prototyper by day and a hackerspace member as a hobby, I’ve gotten involved in Null Space Labs (NSL), a hacker/makerspace for adults a few blocks from the library where I work. Some of the cool projects that NSL members have worked on include trying to create a theremin and a quadrotor helicoptor robot from scratch.  At NSL, I learned how to solder LEDs to a circuitboard. The device I made is called a Cylon because the LEDs are reminiscent of characters from the original Battlestar Galactica TV series. While the Cylon is kind of small and doesn’t do very much, I felt amazingly empowered knowing that I now had the ability to make an electronic device work. It was definitely the kind of feeling that I wanted to share with patrons of all ages, but especially with my teens.

Through my interactions at NSL and after hosting two popular programs – one featuring a local high school robotics club and another showcasing a friend from Blizzard Entertainment who spoke about careers in gaming, I started thinking more seriously about how to cultivate science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) programs and spaces in the library. Continue reading