What are makerspaces?
Makerspaces are described by The Library as Incubator Project as “collaborative learning environments where people [of all ages] come together to share materials and learn new skills”.
I like to think of makerspaces as places where learning happens, stuff gets made and people have fun.
In a library’s makerspace you might find the following fabricating tools and technologies.
- Vinyl cutters
- Laser cutters
- 3D printers
- Sewing machines
- Robotic kits
- Electronic kits
At a library makerspace you can learn how to make a variety of things.
- Produce an app
- Create a ringtone
- Make a Franken toy
- Build and programme a robot
- Design and print jewellery
Makerspaces and public libraries
Increasingly makerspaces are appearing in public libraries. Why?
- In the 21st century public libraries are community hubs that encourage informal education and participatory learning.
- Makerspaces are a great way for public libraries to engage with their communities.
- Technological savviness is the new literacy objective for public libraries.
Public libraries are by their very nature collaborative places. You can visit a library with an information need and a librarian will work with you to find the answer. What I think is nice about makerspaces is that they encourage collaborative learning between the users of the space. One of the things I have noticed working at a library, with a makerspace, is how often passers-by will step in to help, or to ask questions of, the people using it.
Makerspaces level the technological playing field
Public libraries are helping to bridge the technological divide by providing access to tools and technologies for people that otherwise wouldn’t get to use them.
Makerspaces have the potential to demystify science, math, technology and engineering for women and underrepresented minorities. This year Auckland Libraries ran the Geek Girl Tech Camp during which the girls participated in robotics, electronics, chemistry, engineering and programming activities.
I think the greatest thing about libraries’ makerspaces is that anyone can use them – irrespective of ability, project or age.
What do you think about public libraries offering makerspaces? Add your thoughts below.