At first glance, it would appear that a technologically advancing society is challenging that traditional role that libraries have played. How do dusty book shelves keep up with the growth and learning that libraries try to foster in the communities they serve? Enter the makerspace, an innovative and exciting way that some libraries are meeting the challenges and embracing technological changes head on.
The makerspace movement in libraries are the catalysts from innovation, advancing entrepreneurship by spotlighting making, and facilitate hands-on learning and quick prototyping. These spaces contain equipment like laser cutters, embossers, scanners, digital cameras, button makers, sewing machines, digital modeling and fabrication, crafting, woodworking, Legos, and 3D printers, essentially turning the library into a laboratory.
Libraries have always been the place for learning, and should include digital and technological literacies. That indicates the library is the ideal place for new technology and community instruction.
Libraries with makerspaces are not only offering information for consumption, but generating new content and research. Community members learn new things, work with peers, invent, explore, make and create.
In an academic setting, 3D printers and makerspaces can contribute to STEM-related fields like the hard sciences, video game design, and robotics, as well as anthropology, archeological collections, engineering, and art. The equipment offers possibilities for teaching, research, exploration, and experimentation.
A nodmura virus printed as a manipulative for a biology class at Victoria College.
Before libraries can move forward with makerspaces, they should take several things into consideration. Among the things that need to be taken in to account are what additional training is needed, establishing clear goals (learning versus entertainment, as well as what equipment will be available), deciding on payment services (will you charge for equipment usage, how much will you charge, etc.), considering what the work flow will be, establishing clear policies, and considering your community’s needs.
Such lengthy preparations and extensive costs might be prohibitive in supporting the needs of a community. However, by providing these resources, libraries and makerspaces are generating new information and research.
Harris, J. & Cooper, C. (2015). Make room for a makerspace. Computers in libraries, 35(2), 5-9. Retrieved January 23, 2017 from CINAHL Complete database.
Kim, B. (2016). Building blocks of an innovation space. LibraryJournal, 42-43. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from Literature Resource Center database.
Media Center VC/UHV Library (2016, June 13). 3D print nodamura virus time lapse [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/UdZ9FBoibH4
Messner, K. R. (2015). Library as collaborator: Partnerships, knowledge transfer and dialogue in library-based 3D services. Bulletin of the Association for Information Sciences and Technology, 42(1), 21-25.
Nowlan, G. A. (2015). Developing and implementing 3D printing services in an academic library. Library Hi Tech, 33(4), 472-479.