Library Journal Maker Workshop

View of sound recording equipment in the Imaginarium at Port Macquarie Library

The Imaginarium at Port Macquarie Library 


I have been fortunate to participate in the Library Journal Maker workshop which is delivered as online training.  It had four sessions, with a very interesting range of presenters.  I will only be providing some of the information here, as for the full benefit it is neccesary to participate in this workshop.  The work shop took place over four one and one half hour sessions, and an active online forum.

Highlights of week 1

The Children's Museum in Pittsburg is involved in an IMLS grant of over $400,000 to research library and museum maker spaces, and explore what is best practice.  The final report is not yet available. You can sign up for alert about it here.  

To quote from announcement of the funding The project aims to provide museum and library professionals with a suite of tools and resources, hands-on professional development experiences, and a community of practice. The project’s website and online publication will share the framework, makerspace studies, research and evaluation reports, as well as resources for field wide replication.

Some of the key thing learned from the research are that maker spaces in libraries and museums are about learning experiences, they need community anchors and there is a key issue of collection stewardship.  The focus is on the learning and community and not the tools. A key question for each library to ask is 'how do we support learning for the audience we serve".

Congressman Mark Takano spoke about the importance of maker spaces, from the perspective of an elected representative.

Highlights of week 2

Mark Frauenfelder gave a useful historic overview which raised some of the same points Cameron Morley did at the Maker and craftivsit seminar at the State Library earlier in the year. Mark Frauenfelder showed making as necessity and making as a choice. The resource of Make magazine was discussed.  You can subscribe. There are many free resources and great ideas for libraries as well.

Spoons across America combined reading and food.  The focus is on teaching children about food and healthy eating in a fun way.  They have some useful resources as does the Growing minds site.  You may want to combine some of these ideas with a aquaponics garden with Arduino

Highlights of week 3

There was a presentation about Littlebits, which many libraries are using for introducing people to making their own electronics.  This is an easy to use system which gives fast results

Nick Taylor shared a quote from Richard Kong about libraries moving from being grocery stores to being kitchens (from places where you pick stuff up, to where you make things). Nick then showcased some of the things made in the Arapahoe Library maker space.  They have videos made in some of their libraries as well.

They had program where people brought in their own hoodies and made turn signal bicycle jackets. Nick suggested people document (photographs and videos) what is made (with permission from the clients) as this helps make the case for further funding as well as helping to tell the story of what is made.  They had a bride who laser cut her wedding invites, and a replica of Mjölnir was made too.  This replica (of Thor's hammer) helped show possible partnerships with cosplayers. At Arapahoe Library they have staff working with volunteers, but have recruited staff for a wide range of skills. All use of their maker and recording spaces is free. It is also critical to talk about the end results not the tools as people want to be inspired by what they can make.


Tricia Fuglestad, an art teacher had some great examples of programs for younger children.  There is very detailed information available on her blog.

Highlights of week 4

Mick Jacobsen and Amy Holcomb spoke about the Skokie Library BOOMbox (maker space) which has changing programs and changing equipment. They use the quote from R David Lankes the mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities, as part of their rationale. For more information about this quotation follow this link or this one.  Jackobsen and Holcomb were encouraging people to 'make everywhere' with make having different shapes. It is about a mix of staff/stuff/spaces.  They also said if you're not failing you are not trying enough different things.

Oli Sanidas, from Arapahoe Libraries talked about how to develop buy in for senior staff for maker spaces. His advice involved:

  • take time
  • build on what is happening
  • learn from patrons

Working with local groups and experts as well as having staff buy in were critical areas. You have to align with the strategic plan.

School Library Journal has a detailed overview of the final session.

As well as the presentations there is an active forum, and each participant is assigned to a group. There is moderator for each group encouraging the discussion. I was in Oli Sanidas' group.  Some of you would have seen Oli's presentation with Nick Taylor about Google glass at the 2014 Reference at the Metcalfe seminar.  They are both moderators and presenters.  It has been very interesting participating in this workshop for the content as well as the methodology. 

Other useful resources from the workshop:

The timing of this recent workshop was evening in the USA, with start times of 9.00am or 10.00am here.