Libraries and Maker Spaces
|I need to write an essay about an innovative technic in libraries... and I need at least 750 words. I have 650. Help? It's due 10/15
The first public library in the United States opened in 1743. Although though there were libraries before then, this was the first one that fits the definition of a public library (Sturgis Library). Since that year, libraries have changed from just a place to lend books to community centers and learning centers.
One of the changes to both public and educational libraries (college and public-school libraries) has been the introduction of Maker Spaces, starting in 2011 when the first one was opened in Fayetteville Free Library in New York (McCue). Maker Spaces are defined as “a place to tinker with technology and explore arts and crafts” (Hardenbrook). What better place to explore new experiences than in a library? Libraries are historically places to learn and grow. From the very beginning, libraries have been welcoming spaces that have allowed patrons to explore ideas. The introduction of Maker Spaces just allows students and the community to grow their skills, not just their minds. This “recent trend (of) the adoption of the “maker movement” by libraries (focuses) on the do-it-yourself learner, from hobbyists to entrepreneurs, who tinker with new technology such as 3D printing and Raspberry Pi, or traditional items such as crafting supplies and sewing machines, to collaborate with members in their community, university, or school” (Hardenbrook). These spaces allow people to meet and exchange common ideas and concepts as they learn new skills.
While no two libraries have the same Maker Spaces, the ideas do transfer across the libraries. All Maker Spaces offer an area to create and learn with hands-on activities. While some may offer 3D printers, others may only offer crafting space. Still others offer “crafting and art supplies, toys (e.g., Lego blocks), technology (e.g., laser cutter), and mechanical equipment (e.g., sewing machine)” (Hardenbrook). The public library in Columbus, Georgia also offers STEAM kits that can be checked out by patrons to explore at home. The 3D printer that is also offered by the main branch in Columbus must be run by the librarians, but patrons can design items to be printed.
There are benefits to Maker Spaces for anyone who chooses to participate. Instead of being stagnant, Maker Spaces create places that “keep (makers) in the present” (Barron). Maker Spaces “keep their blood flowing…foster independence” (Barron) while allowing passion to drive a project and keep the person creating interested in it. Maker Spaces “spark the brain boost that comes from using one’s hands… (while improving) people’s moods (and offering) …a sense of community (and breaking) the habit of wastefulness” (Barron). While some people may not think they are creative, a Maker Space allows everyone to explore their creative side and find that part of them that is creative. It allows them to express themselves, even if they have never been able to before. It also allows them a safe space to explore their creativity.
The original definition of a Maker Space which is “a place where people come together to create and collaborate, to share resources, knowledge, and stuff” (Davis) is almost the exact definition of a library. By focusing on the “philosophical ‘fit’ or intersection, of public Maker Spaces with the principles of librarianship” (Davis), librarians can see how Maker Spaces can become an integral part of their libraries; making those libraries a more community encompassing place. These “hands-on, participatory, and intergenerational features… (have) the potential to bridge the digital divide. Still others identify areas of literacy, innovation, and STE(A)M skills where library makerspaces can have a broad impact” (Davis). By giving people these spaces, libraries can actually improve literacy and reading as people create projects. For schools, the Maker Spaces can be used for project-based learning as librarians help teachers guide students to problem solve.
By adding a Maker Space to a library, more patrons can be enticed in. The more resources that are offered, the more classes offered, the more patrons will use the library resources.