Midwinter’s Maker Monday Builds New Bridges between Libraries and Communities
A slide challenges librarians with the question "What can you do with what you know?" at a session on makerspaces with MAKE Magazine's Dale Dougherty (standing) and Travis Good. Photo by Steve Teeri.
ALA Midwinter in Seattle highlighted the growing interactions between libraries and the Maker Movement. An entire day, Maker Monday, was devoted to examining the current state of makerspaces in libraries.
Workshops in the Networking Uncommons introduced programming and tools for library makerspaces, including bike workshops, graphic design, Arduino microcontrollers, music electronics, and wearables.
The “MAKE Magazine Introduces Maker Camp 2013” session introduced librarians to the free Maker Camp held on Google+. Maker Camp uses Google+ Hangouts to broadcast live maker workshops to participants around the world, and a number of libraries took part in the inaugural Maker Camp 2012. Librarians Amber Creger, Carla Aviatabile, and Erin Downey Howerton spoke on the panel about their successful participation last year, and enthused about the return of Maker Camp this summer, from July 8 to August 16.
The high point of Maker Monday was the presentation “The New Stacks: The Maker Movement Comes to the Library.” Speakers Dale Dougherty, founding editor and publisher of MAKE Magazine, and Travis Good, contributing writer for MAKE, provided a history of library involvement in the movement and a vision of the future for library makerspaces.
“It’s not about getting 3D printers into libraries, it’s about getting making into libraries,” Dougherty said. Making gets participants excited about learning new skills, he said, and provides evidence of that learning. He added that makerspaces and libraries are about the intersection of information and experience, and suggested that librarians attend a Maker Faire to experience the vibrancy of the Maker culture firsthand. The Maker Movement is now upon us, he said in conclusion, expressing his desire to help libraries offer makerspaces to their patrons.
Good explained that his interest in makerspaces and libraries took him on a road trip around the US. In all, Good visited 10 library makerspaces and reached a number of conclusions. Because libraries are established institutions, they allow the public easier access to the Maker Movement than traditional makerspaces and hackerspaces, which may not be as easy for average individuals to discover on their own. He observed that makers have a tight-knit community and are open, sharing, and love what they do—just like librarians. Finally, Good noted that every library makerspace is different, and needs to have a set of guidelines and best practices to assure that each makerspace integrates into its unique situation.
Maker Monday was a success, and the turnout demonstrated a desire on the part of librarians to seek more information on creating library makerspaces. Plans are underway to provide additional learning opportunities at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago on bringing the Maker Movement to libraries.
STEVE TEERI is makerspace conductor at Detroit Public Library’s HYPE (Helping Young People Excel) Teen Center.