Working the Web: Makerspaces

By Kim Belair

Working the Web

Makerspaces are places where people work collaboratively to learn something new and/or share their expertise in order to make something new. Makerspaces meet the mission of a modern library in that their purpose is to foster social and creative endeavors. These gathering spots, also known as hackerspaces or fab labs, have been around for less than ten years but have grown immensely in popularity.

The original makerspaces were in private businesses or underused empty buildings. Over the past two years, public libraries have increasingly become a likely site for makerspaces. Similarly, it is becoming more commonplace for schools to offer classes and dedicated rooms for these kinds of hands-on group projects. If you have ever considered putting together a makerspace or have one that you would like to expand, read on for inspiration and ideas to start making.

OVERVIEW/GENERAL INFORMATION:

Invent To Learn

The Invent to Learn website is a great starting point because it links to sixteen different resources (directory, maps of locations, meetups) that are maker and hacker related. The second section has links regarding the maker movement in museums and libraries including a helpful article called A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources.

MakerSpace Playbook

This SlideShare presentation has 84 slides of excellent information broken down into twelve segments including a section of “Snapshots” featuring maker projects in public, private, and charter schools. There are also entire chapters addressing planning, funding, and design considerations. The last section called “Resources” is particularly useful in that it provides sample templates for things like liability waivers, job descriptions, mentor applications, and a recommended purchases spreadsheet.

Two similar resources to the MakerSpace Playbook are the Libraries & Maker Culture: A Resource Guide, which links to websites for well-established academic and public library maker spaces, and, for secondary education resources specifically, the High School Makerspace Tools and Materials presentation.

PROJECT IDEAS:

Make It at Your Library

Once you are ready to begin working with these types of hands-on technology projects, the Make It at Your Library website is a perfect place to start. Most helpful is the search by tool options such as searching by age level, time involved, and cost. This website is powered by Instructables, a website with even more projects to consider. These projects are posted by community members and generally list required tools and equipment. Some even feature a video to help illustrate the process from start to finish.

Library as Incubator

Library as Incubator states that their mission is to “promote and facilitate creative collaboration between libraries and artists of all types, and to advocate for libraries as incubators of the arts.” The Artists Library: A Field Guide is the publication based on a school project at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies program that led to the creation of this website. This site is an excellent reminder that makerspaces are not just for techies and engineers, but for all types of creative and collaborative endeavors, including those that involve writing, art, and design.

MakeZine

The online version of Make Magazine has links to the Maker Shed store (linked below), project ideas, Maker Faires events, education about the maker movement, and, of course, information about their print magazine.

Maker Bridge

For those who realize that it makes sense to collaborate on combined endeavors should look no further than the Maker Bridge site. Here you can read their blog or post to their forums about makerspaces. The section on the bottom right of the Home tab called “Makerspaces and Maker Culture in the News” is a great way to stay informed about how others in the community are embracing the maker movement.

SUPPLIERS:

There are plenty of places to get the batteries, LEDS, circuits, boards, and other supplies you will need for your projects. Some to consider include Sparkfun, Digikey, Adafruit, Maker Shed, Evil Mad Science, andAmazon. Projects do not need to be very expensive or time-consuming so don’t let these worries stop you from making – since making makes your library a better place for community building.

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