Put the “science” back in library science and help support STEM learning
The most important resource for creating a successful library maker space—whether in a school or public library—is one’s own community, according to librarians Justin Hoenke, Amy Koester, and Michelle Cooper. Strong relationships and community involvement, not big budgets and high-tech gadgetry, are key to reaching children and teens, the trio of makers say.
Has the maker movement taken hold in your library yet? Starting a maker space is easier—and less costly—than you may think. Technologies such as robotics, digital video production, computer coding, and 3-D printing may garner the most attention, but traditional activities instill the same spirit of invention, collaboration, and critical thinking of the maker phenomenon.
Over the past year , the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) has enjoyed the successful rollout of its Fabulous Laboratory (Fab Lab), a Maker space that resulted from the library’s commitment to community engagement and innovation. During this time, the library’s staff have been honored to speak about the Fab Lab and to explain not only its success but also the variety of challenges and assumptions that most libraries will face when developing a similar space.
Over the past 40 years, public libraries have followed popular culture through the ever-more-abstract artifacts of the digital age, offering music and video in every format, public computers for Internet access, online branches, and downloadable content. Now, some libraries are following Maker culture back to things we can hold in our hands.
Maker spaces in libraries are the latest step in the evolving debate over what public libraries’ core mission is or should be. From collecting in an era of scarce resources to curation in an era of overabundant ones, some libraries are moving to incorporate cocreation: providing the tools to help patrons produce their own works of art or information and sometimes also collecting the results to share with other members of the community.