Everyone is talking about Makerspaces. When I say Makerspace do you immediately think of a room filled with laser cutters, 3D printers, and teens creating giant programmable robots capable of restacking meeting room chairs? Probably, although the robots may just be me.

The reality for most libraries is that we don’t have a dedicated space in which to make stuff. But we do have the capability to encourage making at our libraries. Making means learning through trial and error, through practical application, and through hands-on experience. Making means giving access to communities to grow and create something better.

As Vicki Rakowski, Assistant Director of Youth Services, Lisle Library District, and co-creator of www.makeitatyourlibrary.org said in a blog post last fall: Empowering our communities to use the library to create things is another way to build the library’s relevancy. Creating opportunities for library users to make something that didn’t exist before strengthens the importance of the old ‘third space’ concept.

As I work to define what Makerspace means for my public library system in suburban Minnesota, I’ve had an ongoing conversation with myself and others about when we are making. My conclusion? Anytime you’re expanding understanding of the world through hands-on experience, you are making.

Librarians are excellent at providing access and giving instruction. To think of anyplace in our library as space where those who want to learn come to share information and create something new is not a big stretch. Making can happen as easily at a table for two in the teen space as in a program room that holds 150 teens.

You are making in your library when you create birdfeeders out of juice bottles and wooden spoons after reading John Corey Whaley’s Where Things Come Back in book club. You’re making when you build the tallest structure possible out of spaghetti and marshmallows because your Teen Advisory Board thinks the atrium looks empty. You’re making when you teach your Anime Club how to sew cat ears, and hopefully, one day, how to program their cat ears to rotate and twitch. ‘ You’re making when you design an update of the TARDIS and print it out in neon blue on the 3D printer. You’re making when your weekly 2-hour Makerspace consists of a plastic tub and a hot glue gun on a cart.

In the future, you may get to design a new facility with a million dollar IMLS grant and a full staff of teen liaisons who can build that chair-stacking robot, but for now, embrace all of it! See the future of libraries and the future of our communities in exploration, collaboration and sharing of creativity.

In ten years or in two, libraries may have a new buzzword, but hopefully it will still be based on giving the community places to discover, to innovate, and make change.

And keep an eye out: during the upcoming’ Teen Tech Week‘ (March 9-15), the Makerspace Resources task force will release its brand-new free Maker Toolkit!

Submitted by Amy Boese
YALSA Makerspace Resources Taskforce

*Rakowski, V. (2013).’  Makerspaces, content creation, and the grand scheme of things [blog]. Retrieved from http://makeitatyourlibrary.org/blog/makerspaces-content-creation-and-grand-scheme-things



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