Makerspaces – All the rage?

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Creating Makerspaces in school libraries has become quite a hot topic and has become hotly debated by SLMSs.  Those SLMSs deeply rooted in tradition find it difficult to imagine while those who have progressive views of the library see the creation of makerspaces as a natural development.  I’m still up in the air about it, but thought it would be interesting to do some further research into the creation of these makerspaces and what the advantages might be for our students, since after all, the development and nurturing of our students is the most important.  According Teacher Librarian The Journal for School Library Professionals,  educational makerspaces “have the potential to revolutionize the way we approach teaching and learning.  The maker movement in education is built upon the foundation of constructionism, which is the philosophy of hands-on learning through building things” (http://www.teacherlibrarian.com/2014/06/18/educational-makerspaces/).  Makerspaces are calling for increased technology, such as computers, 3D printers and 3D design software, but I can’t help but question how do school districts without limitless budgets join the makerspace movement?  “Makerspaces provide creative time and, well, space for people of all ages to build prototypes, explore questions, fail and retry, bounce ideas off one another and build something together. These spaces don’t always include technology, since some prototypes and designs can be built out of anything or may include various stages of design that move from analog to digital and back again” (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/creating-makerspaces-in-schools-mary-beth-hertz).

The American Library Association supports makerspaces in libraries because they “allow everyone to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills; they facilitate opportunities for collaboration and community engagement that will aid in entrepreneurial thinking as well as the next generation of STEM jobs.  they provide access to tools (from books to 3D printers) and, most important access to each other” (http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2014/06/american-library-association-supports-makerspaces-libraries).  Further, the ALA’s president Barbara Strpling says that “Makerspaces are enabling libraries to transform their relationship with communities and to empower community members of all ages to be creators of information, not just consumers” (http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2014/06/american-library-association-supports-makerspaces-libraries).

The fact that the ALA supports the creation of makerspaces in libraries is convincing and the benefits of makerspaces can’t be ignored.  The fact is, students would have access to books and databases for research and then be able to immediately create based on the research or try out a new hypothesis.  The question that I have is about logistics.  School libraries can have a lot going on all day long.  For instance, at any given time in my library I could study hall students in, classes going on, and students for independent reading.  With classes and independent reading which one would assume require a quiet atmosphere, how could you also have a makerspace going on with 3D printers and tools?  Who would supervise these makerspaces?  I would assume that someone, such as the librarian, would need to supervise students using the makerspace, but if she has classes to teach how would that work?  I can completely see the value of the makerspace and support it; I just need some more convincing regarding how to operate it within the confines of school.  We used to have a wood shop room in our school.  Isn’t that like a makerspace minus the computers?  It seems that we are reverting back to a class we had years ago.  Perhaps a makerspace could be built in a classroom, complete with computers which would provide students with access to the school library’s databases for research.  Maybe students could utilize the makerspace before and after school or during lunch or study hall?  I’m just trying to think of alternative places for the makerspace to be that would still allow for all the benefits but not take physical space from the actual library.  For a school library, I’d like to think that ours is pretty big, but at times it feels cramped when we have 70 kids in there.  I’m not sure where I would put a makerspace if I wanted to.  Further, does that beg the question about getting rid of print materials?  This is getting crazy to think about!

Hopefully, I’ve given some food for thought here.  If you’d like to do some additional reading about makerspaces in libraries, you can check out these links:

http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/a-librarians-guide-to-makerspaces/

https://teamhughmanatee.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/preddy-creating-school-library-e2809cmakerspacee2809d.pdf

https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=103&category=ISTE-Connects-blog&article=Create-a-school-makerspace-in-3-simple-steps

http://www.slj.com/2013/10/programs/make-it-your-library-launches-maker-space-project-website/#_

http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2013/10/k-12/low-tech-high-gains-knitting-arts-and-crafts-bike-repair-anyingall-are-maker-activities/

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