Libraries as Makerspaces: October #STEMchat Summary

American Library Association LogoThe October #STEMchat on the topic of libraries as makerspaces was quite energizing. There’s a summary below, followed by links. You may notice the summary is presented in a different format than in the past. Let me know what you think of it.

Libraries as Makerspaces #STEMchat Summary

Our opening talk was inspiring as we discussed what we love about libraries. It was interesting to learn that many librarians take their jobs seriously and see themselves as an important part of a free, democratic society.

They are!

Libraries are educational equalizers, they provide information and opportunities for all. Libraries provide books, magazines, classes, technology and craft projects for free or very low cost.

There was a bit of reminiscing over getting our first library cards and it’s heartening to know that, even in the age of Google and Siri, getting that first library card is a still an important rite of passage for young children and their parents.

For many of us, our first library card was made of cardstock. They did not last through the wash! Now that cards are plastic, kids will never know the sadness of seeing a wadded up piece of now worthless paper tumble out of a clean pocket.

Libraries today are much different than those of even a few decades ago. They are much more high-tech now, compared to the days of microfilm and microfiche. Information may be easier to find on the internet today, but lacks the “remember when” amusement of old store ads and newspaper stories still visible on the microfiche roll.

Today’s libraries are focused on being places of learning. How that learning happens (books, internet, makerspaces) varies. Participants in the chat shared the different kinds of programs their libraries offer.

Programs include:

Makerspaces in libraries
“Making” classes (how to write a book, stamping classes)
A “How It Works” series
Graphic design classes
Bicycle repair
LEGO classes where kids are let loose with bricks
Tech classes
Arduino classes
Using 3D printers.
It seems that more libraries are doing Science After School classes with hands-on STEM activities.

Ideally, libraries would offer a makerspace where STEM professionals or local makers could lead talks and hold hands-on workshops. Libraries can create a space where kids can do things that aren’t easy to do at school and they may not have the space or guidance to do at home.

How can libraries get started? How can patrons help?

Start small and inexpensively. Gather interested community members and just start. Show your library what other libraries are doing as inspiration, and partner with local makerspaces. Just give it a go; even if it doesn’t take off, just try it once.


Detroit Public Library HYPE Makerspace

DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Review of Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games

Articles on libraries and makerspaces

The Coalition for Science After School, promoting high-quality afterschool science education

STEAM: science, tech, engineering, ART, math. Talk by Adam Savage from the Maker Fair 2012

Find a makerspace

Learn more about the October #STEMchat panelists here.

November’s #STEMchat will take place on Tuesday night, November 13 at 9 Eastern, 8 Central, 7 Mountain, 6 Pacific. We’re going to discuss Tweens and Engineering thanks to our fab sponsor Design Squad Nation

Sign up here. for a monthly #STEMchat alert.

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