“I love all the maker programming ideas, but I just don’t have the time in the my day to make it work.” This phrase has been uttered by so many library staff, all of whom wear way too many hats in their daily jobs. So, instead of sharing out ideas for developing programming, today we’re going to focus on different ways to implement maker programming into our schedule.

If you are the type of library worker who is looking for new maker ideas, don’t forget to check out YALSA’s maker resources.

Students creating “galaxy pinwheels”

Before we begin…

Remember that library staff develop programming based on their community needs. Maker programming may be a need in your community, but there may be another organization filling that need. There also may be library staff who have embedded STEM programming in their library programs, but they may not be labelling it as STEM (children’s librarians are amazing at doing this during craft time at story hour). Knowing what your community needs will help you work it in the right way.

Option 1: Embed it in a program/lesson you already do.

Starting a new program can be a challenge. The best way to start a maker program is to start small. For some stakeholders, hearing an idea about a maker program doesn’t mean anything, but seeing a small maker program can make stakeholders understand the library’s goals.

Work with a group that you meet with already, such as a TAB group, book club (ex: challenge them to make a popsicle stick harmonica when discussing Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo), story hour, study halls). Throw in a quick challenge that they will like and make them come back for more (My favorite is the duck call challenge).

Option 2: Use a study hall

Schools are constantly pulling students out of study hall for progress monitoring, remediation, and other academic help. Some of your teens are sitting there and are bored. This is a great time slot for library staff to offer STEM programming as an incentive to keep grades up. Not only do you get them out of a quiet room, you allow them to do group work and work on their problem solving. This programming can be advertised as an “enrichment for all” or a “personalized learning” time.

This is how I was able to start my maker program. I started with one study hall group during one period of the day. As student enthusiasm grew, we then expanded to other study halls and lunch programs.

Librarians may be worried about the planning aspect of this, but sometimes maker programming is messy. You can set the following rules to help save time:

  • There will be no teacher/librarian created example
  • We succeed together or we fail together
  • Sometimes our projects don’t work as planned- how can we learn from it?

In addition, if you have teens that are showing great leadership and vision, ask them what programs they want to see. Sometimes, they can find a challenge on pinterest or youtube and show off their leadership skills.

Option 3: Passive Programming

Setting up a passive programming station could be a great way to get started. Based on patron response, library workers could gather data about patron usage and use that data for future programming. This data could also be used when advocating for more time for maker programming.

Option 4: Lunch and Learn

Teens love a chance to get out of the lunchroom. They are willing to work on a maker challenge during lunch. In the school library, some of our teens are over scheduled (because they’re accelerated classes or are pulled to work on remediation). These teens still want to participate, and lunch may be their only timeslot.

Option 5: Team up with an expert

As stated above, library staff need to look at community needs and community resources. If you have someone in the community who is more qualified/more experienced in the topic you want to develop programming on, see if they are willing to come and team up with you for a program.

Option 6: Use successful examples of programming to advocate for more time

It is always useful to watch current trends in education. If your library is providing programming that in line with current trends, your administration may be willing to help you improve your programming with more time or resources.

One initiative that has been helping library staff improve their program is the Future Ready Initiative. This program allows library staff to reflect on their programs and develop programming that moves their institution into the future. If you are advocating for a maker program in your library, there are webinars and resources on this page to help you think about how to structure your program.

Images pulled from Future Ready Librarians: http://1gu04j2l2i9n1b0wor2zmgua.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Library_flyer_download.pdf

Another trend is “Personalized Learning.” The goal of personalized learning is to grow students based on their interest (which is something that libraries do incredibly well!). Education Week developed a working definition of personalized learning that involves flexible learning environments, a strong understanding of where a student is at, and responding to individual student needs. Some districts have started this in small doses with personalized learning class periods. Librarians are able to work with teachers to generate ideas for expanding student interest, accommodating student learning styles, and providing opportunities for students to become more independent as they learn.



(2010). Personalized learning: A working definition. Education Week. Retrived from https://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/personalized-learning-special-report-2014/a-working-definition.html

Future Ready Schools (2018). Future ready schools. Retrieved from: https://futureready.org/program-overview/librarians/

Jakubowicz, C. (2017). Makerspace centers in 40 minutes. Retrieved from: https://awrinkleintech.com/2017/12/28/makerspace-centers-in-40-minutes/

Redina, D. (2015). Logistics of makespace scheduling). Retrieved from: http://renovatedlearning.com/2015/09/15/logistics-of-a-makerspace-scheduling/

YALSA (2017). Maker and DIY programs. Retrieved from: http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/Maker_%26_DIY_Programs


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