The Idaho Commission for Libraries developed a pilot project in early 2013 to implement makerspaces in public libraries across Idaho and had a successful and exciting first year.idaho2 We worked with five libraries including Ada Community Library, Community Library Network, Gooding Public Library, Meridian District Library, and Snake River School Community Library to embrace “making” and push the boundaries of programming with tweens and teens.Idaho Each library exceeded every expectation, and demonstrated innovation, creativity, and drive in the implementation of the project. These successes made us even more excited to open up the opportunity to libraries for a second year.

We were overwhelmed to receive eleven applications representing libraries from many regions across the state. After careful review, we are pleased to announce that the following libraries have been invited to participate in the second year of the project:

* Aberdeen District Library
* Buhl Public Library
* East Bonner County District Library
* Jerome Public Library
* Portneuf District Library
* Twin Falls Public Library

Each of the libraries has committed two staff to participate in the year-long project. The first workshop will take place on February 24-25 at the Commission, and will focus on developing a foundational understanding of the maker culture and the design process. Participants will also develop skills in building with FischerTechnikâ„¢ manipulatives to explore construction, simple machines, engineering, and architecture. A second two-day training in May will focus on Robotics, and a final two-and-a-half day training in November will cover 3d design, 3D printing, and e-textiles.

Libraries from the first year of the project have also committed one new staff member to participate in the second year of the project in order to broaden their base of support and expand programming in their libraries. We are excited to welcome all of the libraries and new staff to the project and look forward to watching the learning, the making, and the creativity start to happen.

If you would like to read more about what we are doing in Idaho, please visit us at:
To follow our progress please *LIKE* our Facebook page:

This project has been made possible through funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.imls

Submitted by Erica Compton, Idaho Commission for Libraries

Wowsers is right, the ALA Annual meeting was an action-packed few days for the YALSA Board. Several Board members will be sharing background and information on select proposals that were brought forth over the course of the next few weeks, so please stay tuned. Obviously I’m a bit of a governance nerd myself, but I hope you’ll find that the processes and paths that the Board follows to come to these decisions are almost as thoughtful and interesting as the results themselves. I said it once and I’ll say it again: your YALSA Board volunteers are awesomesauce.

Part of my follow-up over the course of the next few months will be to madly appoint to some amazing new taskforces. Either as a newer member looking for a way to get more involved or as a seasoned vet ready to share your expertise, this could be you! Check out the taskforce descriptions below and if interested, please fill out a volunteer form.’ ‘ The more information you can give me related to the group(s) that you’re interested in serving on, the easier it will be for me to place you. And remember, if you aren’t selected in this round of taskforce appointments, President-Elect Chris Shoemaker will soon be perusing selection committee volunteer forms which are due September 30th.’ ‘ Thanks for considering!
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image from flickr creative commons user luradsRecently I was talking with library staff that work with youth and heard “Maker spaces are dead.” With an amazed look on my face, and since I know that many libraries are still developing these types of spaces, I said, “What?” And, it was repeated, “Maker spaces are dead.” The person who stated this was actually repeating something heard at another meeting. So, I contacted someone else I knew that was at that meeting and she confirmed. She’d heard that too – the idea was that in a few years the whole maker/DIY movement in libraries was going to be dead. Say by 2016.

This really bothered me, and at first I couldn’t figure out why. Then it came to me. People are missing the big picture here. Maker spaces aren’t about the space or the equipment in those spaces. They are really about a philosophy of service related to libraries and the community. Libraries and youth. Libraries and teens.
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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. Read More →