Librarians Being Proactive in “Post-truth” World

Additional  contributers Cathy Rettberg and Erinn Salge

“Child Trafficking Ring Tied to Hillary Clinton Campaign”*

“Russians Hacked Democratic National Committee Emails to Lead Voters To Trump”**

“Miracle Herbal Remedy to Cure Cancer”***

So many of our news stories sound like sensational news. Remember that ice-breaker game two truths and a lie. In today’s media landscape of sharing information rapidly it seems that the ratio has turned to two lies to a truth, and our students are struggling to tell the difference. There has been a flood of fake news, conspiracy theories, and click-bait, etc.; especially in this election cycle, but thankfully there has also been a host of articles drawing attention to the critical need to reveal the lies and teach our students analytical evaluation skills. Many of us in the library world and specifically several librarians in the AISL group have been discussing and sharing ideas about addressing this through our role as information literacy leaders. I am sharing some of the links that have bounced around and some of the lessons we generated to continue to the do the work we always do but in this new context.

In this “Post-Truth” climate we have the potential to reinvigorate our lessons of information literacy, sources awareness, and website evaluation skills. There are several layers of information literacy to delve into around the recent media buzz calling attention to the recent “fake news”; I see an opportunity to collaborate with subject area teachers on topics like identifying bias, analyzing authority, evaluating websites,and fact-checking etc. There is a way to reach every subject area and share the librarian lens of critical and discerning approaches to sources. Here are several links I found valuable in shaping my thoughts on the lesson I delivered last week:

Truth, truthiness, triangulation: A news literacy toolkit for a “post-truth” world by Joyce Valenza

I refer to Valenza’s work frequently. She frames the complex topic thoroughly and categorically. There are ample examples, great tips for students,and an exhaustive list of resources. The vocabulary list is a great tool to approach a social studies teacher to create collaborative lesson together.

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources by Melissa Zimdars

Consider looking to professors of media studies since it is their concentration and expertise. A local professor of communications tipped me off to this document that went viral on Facebook feeds. Valenza also includes her on her list, but I am drawing attention to it because it helped me fill the gap in current new media tips. It is straightforward and accessible for students to understand. Additionally, another AISL librarian shared a libguide search of college librarians also updating their sites and lessons as well.

Students Need Our Help Detecting Fake News by  Frank W. Baker

This example was posted in Middle Web. It is another variation of the examples above but I like the focus towards the middle school arena to help middle school teachers and librarians scaffold news media literacy to their students. There are numerous more, but Valenza’s site covers many more.

Website Evaluation and News Media Literacy Lessons and Presentation

With the many general discussions about the topics several AISL librarians shared the work that we are doing and gave me permission to share so that we have some specific examples:

I’ll start with mine because I can explain my process with it.

Evaluating Sources: Luck of the Draw or Skilled Play-Lesson by Courtney Walker delivered in a social studies class specifically the 9th grade Global Studies with Mr. Daniel Asad at Shorecrest Preparatory School.

Mr. Asad started the class by referring to the recent Pizzagate situation that had happened over the past weekend. He used this example to show how “fake news” can have dire consequences in extreme cases. This set the stage for me to share the importance of critical analysis skills with web resources. This lesson starts generally with looking at sources on a spectrum of scholarly sources to the sensational. It is not a stand alone lesson on news media literacy, but a retooling of the process of web evaluation with the inclusion of the tips to identify of fake news and current updates. I adapted resources that I had used before along with a current article I came across in Knowledge Quest to put recent fake news proliferation in a broader context of website evaluation. We planned for one class period, but I found us running out of time at the  end of class. We also delved some into bias, click-bait, and conspiracy theories, but only scratched the surface– a follow up lesson is possible to continue the discussion. This is in a document form that was projected and shared with the students. After going over the document and discussing the concepts students were given a checklist sheet which was the “card” they had been dealt. Links to these “cards”/websites is linked on the document underneath the image of the cards. I didn’t have those linked or projected during the lesson- I have only added for others to see the handout and the sliding scale of the websites. I repeatedly stressed that even though we are using these charts that these are not hard fast rules, but tools to filter through the many shades of gray in sources.

Link to Evaluating Sources Lesson

Reporting the News: Is it Real or Fake? Lesson By Cathy Rettberg, Head Librarian, Menlo School Atherton, CA (reprint permission from shared email exchange)

The following example comes from librarian Cathy Rettberg in an email discussion with AISL Librarians about news media literacy. The opening timeline of twitter posts coupled with the number of times the tweet was viewed and shared illustrates the how quickly misinformation is spreading.  Included is her powerpoint and the active lesson her students completed to embody the reporter role and spread their “news.” Make sure you check out their final headlines at the end.

In her words,“Yesterday I did a lesson in 8th grade. We looked at the Eric Tucker story that was outlined in the NYT, talked about fake news in historical perspective (propaganda), discussed the echo chamber concept, clickbait, how to look at bias in news sites. I had them evaluate news sites by looking at coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline, then place their site on a grid (photo attached). Finally I gave them the “facts” about a made up 8th grade ice cream protest (students walked out, disrupted 6th grade, teachers got angry, MS director came out and smoothed the waters). The students then had to write a news headline about that event in the style of the news website they had investigated. It was fun! And their headlines showed they really understood the concept. It’s so important for each of us to do this with our students, in some way.”

Link to Reporting the News Lesson

“Some of their headlines, if you want to use them:

The Blaze: Childish 8th Grade Protesters Disrupt School Environment for Ice Cream

WSJ: Student Protesters Put on Hold by Middle School Principal

Daily Beast: Students Fight for their Rights!

NYT: Peaceful Protesters and the Battle for Ice Cream”

News Literacy:Truthiness and the truth and everything in between presentation by Erinn Salge Head Librarian Morristown-Beard School (reprint permission from shared email exchange)

Finally, hot off the presses from Erinn Salge. Erinn started the email thread that many of us chimed in on because it was on our radar or we were in the process of designing our own lessons. Just today she shared the powerpoint that she presented to her upper school. While many of us have the example through our email I wanted to also cross-post here for future reference and because it is relevant to the discussion. She has provided both slides and her notes for others to see how she tackled this contemporary topic. She defines some important new terms in news media literacy and has clear steps for students to use to identify false news.

Link to News Literacy Presentation

Link to New Literacy Notes for Presentation

I am grateful to the dedicated librarians that are always seeking ways to inform their staff and students through constant engagement and outreach to their community. And while we have always taught careful inquiry into all kinds of media staying abreast of the new forms and iterations of this skillset and sharing it is vital to our learning communities. I hope this post is just a start, and I invite others to comment and share the ways you have retooled your own lessons. I know there were many others on the email thread as while as others of you in the trenches covering this as we speak. There were rumblings that there may be another post coming up that might scaffold it to a younger audience so that this information might reach all levels of instruction ( Wee might see that real soon?).

Thank you, David Wee, for noticing— in a perfect storm of propaganda, perfidy, and the press just yesterday the Washington Post shared the article, “After Comet Ping Pong and Pizzagate, teachers tackle fake news, about how educators are responding to “fake news.” Because I had shared a snippet of my lesson on Twitter last week a reporter picked up some of my lesson as well as other teachers around the country addressing #fakenews. I am honored, but more importantly thankful that the reporter included a librarian to show how important our role is in fostering critical users of information in our schools and communities.

Here are some of the books I have read to inform me-

Using Sources Effectively: Strengthening Your Writing and Avoiding Plagiarism by Robert A. Harris

A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age by Daniel J. Levitin

UnSpun:Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel

Additionally, these are some of the articles that I have bookmarked/outlined in Diigo that I am continuing to collect on this topic. Digital Bookmarks on Website Evaluation, News Media Literacy, Fake News

*Revealed as fake news recently known as Pizzagate or Comet Ping Pong because armed man was about to act on this fake news story.

**Still under investigation by the FBI and CIA to verify the truth

***Recent news story in which a man named Adeniji created a fake website and office to collect money on fraudulent claims of a miracle herbal remedy for cancer.

Diversity through Library Makerspaces: An Example of Community Collaboration of Girls in STEAM

photo by M. Murphy

photo by M. Murphy

Many of us in the independent school realm are continually striving to reflect and foster multiple perspectives for our community through diversity initiatives. Past AISL conventions, professional development, and blog posts have featured diversity, equity, and multiculturalism to our collective knowledge. I want this post to be a complimentary bookend to the diversity post Christina McClendon wrote for AISL, “Best Practices for Creating (and Using!) a Diverse YA Collection.” I found the information in her post rich in scope for collection development and useful to my thoughts of creating a well-rounded and represented collection. I would like to delve into how library programming and facilities can also mirror this focus on diversity and equity in our libraries through my experience with makerspaces, STEAM initiatives, and collaboration with the our technology and science departments.

I have chronicled the journey of creating, growing, and sustaining a makerspace at the Shorecrest Preparatory School’s library; and just as our book collections can serve, support, and foster a diverse community I have learned that the creative spaces in our libraries are powerful resources for equity and access to the tools of creativity and innovation. The digital divide has been a common topic in education circles in which there are segments of our society that are without access or are underrepresented in tech and innovation. Libraries of all sizes and scopes are beacons of resources to narrow this divide. As the research and design program has grown at our school through our makerspace and with our collaboration with the technology department I have witnessed how creating a creative space generates a ripple effect in self-efficacy, personal empowerment, and community engagement. I want to share how a focus of STEAM themes and programming grew organically at an individual level, then to curricular level and now has expanded into community partnerships because we updated our resources to include materials and machines for making over the past three years. I am honored that I played a minor supportive role to a collective endeavor initiated by a pair of students. This seems apt to share  today on ADA Lovelace Day-attributed as being the first computer programmer, but has only recently been recognized.

Co-Founders of the Girls' STEAM Club

Co-Founders of the Girls’ STEAM Club

About two years ago two upper school girls noticed that they were one of the few females in the computer programming and robotics class. The pair discussed this and then talked to a few more of their friends and decided to form a club with a diverse group of girls that focused on STEAM for girls. They approached several teachers: our Director of Technology, Dr. Baralt, because she is the leader of STEAM and her exhaustive knowledge of technology; Lisa Peck, a science teacher that heads our medical science program alongside environmental initiatives too. I think they reached out to me because they had seen the development of the makerspace in the library and the outreach our library program was doing to promote innovative and design thinking. I want to stress that because there was a specific creative space and a push to offer different materials of learning in the library the students sought a librarian to join on as one of the mentors. Additionally, our upper school art teacher, Charla Gaglio, rounded this group of mentors to encompass all the areas of creativity and subjects of STEAM. The great part about this grassroots development was that it started to develop at the same time as the national focus on underrepresented groups in tech and commerce through the awareness raised by organizations like Lean In, Code.org, and Girls Who Code.

STEAM Ambassadors lunch meeting for planning

STEAM Ambassadors lunch meeting for planning

In the early stages of setting a mission of the club to encourage and support girls in technology, robotics, and engineering the girls recognized that reaching girls younger than high school would be instrumental in growing the numbers in STEAM fields and classes. So from this focus the high school girls of this club emerged as STEAM ambassadors to the rest of the school. The goal was to share stories of women thriving in STEAM fields and generate activities for middle school girls that give them skills and experience with coding, game design, engineering, and science concepts, etc. As the structure of the club was taking shape a local school had been communicating to Shorecrest about both our robotics program and makerspace program. Dr. Baralt saw the opportunity to share our experience and invite Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg to be a part of our STEAM for girls club. She was instrumental in setting up the logistics of bringing our middle school girls together with the middle girls of Academy Prep while under the guidance of our high school STEAM Ambassadors. The upper school girls were responsible for searching, designing, and delivering the lessons to the middle school girls. For the first couple of sessions the mentor teachers explained lesson development, modeled activities, and helped gather instructional materials, but as the upper school girls gained confidence and experience they began to shape their own lessons. Now in it’s second year once a month the science teacher at Academy Prep, Latasha Seay, brings middle schools girls over after school and collaborates and celebrates STEAM activities with our girls in the library.

Wireframing for Game Design on the iPad

Wireframing for Game Design on the iPad

Electronics and Circuitry

Electronics and Circuitry

 

 

 

This school year in addition to the Girls’ STEAM club using the resources in the library one of the original student founders of the club also saw the opportunity to involve the National Honor Society to do more outreach and service through our makerspace. She contacted PACE Center for Girls in Pinellas whose mission involves,”PACE began as a community response to the lack of female-specific programs for girls involved in the juvenile justice system, at risk of dropping out of school, or facing other serious risks. Since 1997 PACE Pinellas has served more than 1,500 girls by offering them and their families hope and opportunity for a brighter future.” The experience of setting up programs that she learned from Dr. Baralt and the mentors gave her confidence to create more community outreach and reach more girls. I noticed that when she was planning this meeting she only needed a little consulting with me, but then she lead and organized the first activity of paper circuitry activities with a few high school girls in the program along with a different group of girls at our school.

SPS Tech Director, SPS Science teacher, APC Science teacher

SPS Tech Director, SPS Science teacher, APC Science teacher

My role as a librarian in all this is was as a host space, resource collector, and subtle support. In many ways this program borrows from the ways public libraries offer programs and resources to their communities. It is a joy to see all the girls together being creative, curious, and empowered with new knowledge. Honestly, programs like this in which students lead the inquiry are the epitome of what library strive to attain: self-sufficiency and efficacy. On the days when I am struggling with the balance of all the realms of librarianship: collection development, reader advisory, research and information literacy instruction while sustaining a makerspace the experience of being a part of Girls’ STEAM club affirms my goals as a librarian. I feel as equally empowered as the girls do.

Through this process I have learned of some sites and organizations that support girls and other underrepresented groups in STEAM:

Girls Who Code

She++

Ada Lovelace Day

Black Girls Code

Black Nerd Problems

Blacks In Technology

Latina Geeks

10 Inspiring Women in Tech from Asia and the Middle East

Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show

Project H

Out In Tech

Start Out

Lesbians Who Tech

Additionally, here are a few businesses that were founded by women that supply resources for tech and makerspaces-

Adafruit founded by Limor Fried

Littebits founded by Ayah Bdeir

I also want to highlight a program that brings together all STEAM elements but is anchored with the author Octavia Butler. I loved how sci-fi literature was added with the arts and tech so  natural integration for libraries.   The Octavia Project

Finally, this story is just one example of library programming and facilities supporting diversity and inclusion. I would love to hear how other libraries may be supporting diversity, affinity groups and service organizations. I would like to learn more ways of reaching and supporting many different voices.

 

Libraries and Museums- A Perfect Partnering

Photo credit: Tim Arruda

Photo credit: Tim Arruda

Photo credit: Tim Arruda

Photo credit: Tim Arruda

Libraries and museums share similar DNA; public institutions holding artifacts of human knowledge and creations.  In fact, many MLIS programs cover both library science and museum studies since both are in the business of information just in different formats. So it is no surprise that our museums can be great allies for the work we do with our students. Museums with their troves of primary sources can expand a student’s understanding of history in an engaging, multi-disciplinary way. Librarians can show concepts of scholarship, documentation, archiving, and displaying information through museum experiences. I recently had the opportunity to help organize a museum field experience in collaboration with the social justice studies of our upper school teachers.

The field trip experience was a collaboration between the Florida Holocaust Museum and artist Ya La’ford, who uses installation murals as a creative space to hold storytelling events. In the museum, students saw photographs, artifacts and documents about both the Holocaust in Europe and the Civil Rights movement in America. In addition to The Florida Holocaust Museum permanent collection, they viewed the special exhibits “This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement” and “Beaches, Benches and Boycotts: The Civil Rights Movement in Tampa Bay”.

Students headed to the mural site, the tunnel adjacent to Tropicana Field which travels under First Avenue, for “Blue Sunnel”, a storytelling series featuring a panel of speakers focused on gratitude, creativity and perseverance. The panelists were Holocaust survivor Jerry Rawicki, artist and philanthropist Beth Morean, and City Council member Amy Foster – all organized by artist Ya La’ford. The site itself is a transformative 85-foot, blue lighted tunnel, wrapped floor to ceiling in hand painted geometric lines paralleling the rise and fall of the sun on St. Petersburg. Students see what the artifacts and photographs mean when there is a person to give a first-hand experience about it. Image, narrative and conversation converge in a new context for the students.

Back at school students followed up with reading and discussions. This type of educational experience lets student see librarians in another light as a person that can connect them to people and places in their community. They can see that research and documentation can take a creative shape that impacts their community and larger world. I also found that students were seeking out more books and information about both time periods because the multi-layered presentation piqued their curiosity to learn more. One of the English teachers shared that some students want to collect donations and write thank you letters so that these stories are continued to be told. The whole experience reminded me of the poignant resources we all have in our communities and how we can build partnerships to broaden learning resources beyond our shelves. Even if we cannot all attend a field trip it made me think about how the librarian can facilitate learning liaisons like these.

Museums as learning media ideas:

  • Find out what museum field trips your school might already do and share resources or offer a mini-lesson as either formative or summative learning experiences connected to the event.
  • Volunteer as a chaperone for school field trips.
  • Investigate local museums and following their social media for changing exhibits that correlate with your school’s curriculum to share with your staff.
  • Consider virtual field trips if you are not able leave your library- share with your art and social studies teachers the Google Cultural Institute which aggregates collections from museums, cultural centers and libraries from around the world. The Smithsonian Museum has educator resources and Smithsonian X 3D captures artifacts in 3D form.

Creative Loafing published a recent article about the event- if you would like to see more details-http://m.cltampa.com/artbreaker/archives/2015/11/20/light-in-the-tunnel.

Inviting Creative Experts to the Library Mix

Librarians are always connectors. We see the intersections of subjects in the curriculum. So now that many of our schools are fully immersed in project-based learning, STEM to STEAM, Guided Inquiry, Design Thinking etc. we can take our role of finding authors and add a new spin to finding subject experts. This is a way to add curricular support to the kinds of programming that are happening in schools adopting creative commons, makerspaces, and design labs…

I was inspired by the Libraries as Incubator Project (LAIP) that guest-presented at our AISL Convention last spring; They highlighted library programs that bring artists, musicians, dancers to integrate with the collection and space of the library. I have begun to invite experts to work with teachers and students on the projects they are undertaking. Teachers have appreciated this addition to our collaborative relationship because it is often too time intensive for them to add this element to their courses. I have noticed the student engagement increases when they get to see someone share the real-world examples to the topics that are studying. Here are some of the experts I found in our creative city.

One of the first speakers I brought to our school was industrial designer to share about his profession and the creative things he has made. I choose him because at the time we were promoting our Makerspace. Chris Barrs of O8O Studio shared about the design process and showed the iterations of many of his products. I choose him specifically because I had learned about the NASA’s first 3D print in space challenge for students and knew that Mr. Barrs had designed for NASA when he was a student in college. Read more about his presentation here

The next speaker I invited to our school helped the second phase of our makerspace programming: curricular connections. Jon-Paul Taylor is part of the St. Pete Makers organization in St. Petersburg. When I learned from the technology teacher and art teacher in middle school that the students were designing games for their Spanish class I saw the opportunity to bring in a person with a passion for game design history and making. Mr. Taylor was a perfect match because not only does he understand coding for game design he also builds arcade style consoles to play the games on. This mirrored the work student were doing because they were coding in technology class and creating cardboard consoles in art class. See him sharing with our students here.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to bring experts to the school related to a city-wide cultural event in our community- the SHINE Mural Festival. This was the most ambitious iteration of engaging local experts with our students. I had learned about this event at the end of last year and shared with the art teachers on campus. The middle school art teacher was excited to get involved with this city event and made a point to start her art classes with mural and street art concepts at the beginning of this year. Since international, national, and local mural artists were painting the town we took the students on a field trip to Bloom Art Center, an art studio covered in murals by our local mural artists. After the festival, mural artists visited our middle school art studio to help the students design a new mural for our school and brought an art car along for more examples of street art in our community. See more details here and here

In combination with procuring experts I make a point to pull books and materials from our collection to show our holdings in a new light. This way both traditional functions of the library and progressive educational trends are represented in the programming.

Some tips I have learned through the experience-

  • Often finding experts in community is a frugal route as very often they are willing to share free of charge or for a smaller compensation than an author.
  • Have informal conversations with your teachers to see what they are working on and offer to bring outsiders in.
  • Tap into your own personal interests and organizations that you are a part of- I joined with the St. Pete Makers to grow my own skills and now I know experts in several maker fields.
  • Volunteer outside of you school- I met local artists this summer when I volunteered to help with the educational side of a local arts programs.
  • Talk with your alumni departments as they have farther reaching contacts with experts across many fields and with a vested interest in your school.

Finally, I still look for authors to promote a love of reading, but I have enjoyed adding subject experts to the mix too. These are just some of my thoughts. I would love to hear if others have also brought in experts for the programs at their schools.

 

Design Thinking in the Library

The onset of the internet ushered in us into the Information Age. Now the with access to unlimited information, video tutorials combined with new personal fabrication machines (3D printers  and laser cutters) we are now entering the Innovation Age. Co-working facilities, fab labs and makerspaces are popping up in cities all over offering a place to create and collaborate to spark new businesses and industries. Our libraries can parallel this real-world trend by assisting and promoting a framework of creative thinking through the design thinking model with or without a dedicated makerspace.

As the focus on creativity and innovation in education increases, libraries can bring design-thinking into their programs. Librarians can implement design thinking into their programming to advance creative thinking alongside the critical thinking for our schools supporting the pedagogy and curriculum of project-based learning and STEM/STEAM initiatives of recent years. Fast Company defines it as, “the methodology commonly referred to as design thinking is a proven and repeatable problem-solving protocol that any business, or profession can employ to achieve extraordinary results.*” There are different variations of the design thinking model, but generally in falls into 5 categories:

 

  1. Discovering or Defining a problem
  2. Ideating or Brainstorming approaches
  3. Prototyping and Tinkering
  4. Test, Analyze and Refine
  5. Feedback loop and User-Studies

The transition to adding a design-thinking approach should be easy for librarians as we have taught research frameworks like “The Big 6” and “Guided Inquiry” and other methods to simplify and organize the complex processes of research.  Now librarians can help teachers experiment with the design process for their next creative project with students. An easy entry point with the curriculum would be outreach to capstone programs and project-based learning. Offer sessions on each step of the process as students work through their design problems. Employ the same questioning skills you used with the reference interview in traditional research, but with the new focus of looking at the form and function of what the student trying to achieve. An added benefit of incorporating design thinking in your regular programming is that there is organic, on-the-spot research, so you can continue to reinforce research skills. Additionally, the librarian can help the teacher focus on documentation throughout the creative process by referring to Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks and others as examples. The documentation is not formal like MLA or APA, etc, but it underpins the necessary skills of documenting the progress of a major work. Take it a step further by suggesting students create an “Instructable” in which they share the steps of their creative process in a public forum in which effective documentation is a core competency.

The library with the access to all disciplines of knowledge is a great place to incorporate creative thinking processes. Modeling design thinking in your program can invigorate your teaching practice as an added tool in your teaching toolbox.  Offering your skills and time as a teaching-partner on PBL teams within your school makes you a linchpin in your organization. Have fun and enjoy the creative process with your patrons by offering design challenges in your library alongside reading initiatives. If you are looking for more about design thinking the following resources can help you dive deeper into design.

 

Design Thinking Comes to Independent Schools by Peter Gow

Recasting Teachers and Students as Designers by Mindshift

Iterating and Ideating: Teachers Think Like Designer by Tina Barseghian

Putting Power In the Hands of Kids Through Design Thinking by Tina Barseghian

What Does ‘Design Thinking’ Look Like in School? by Katrina Schwartz

Design Thinking for Educators by IDEO

Scaffolding Creativity Through Design Thinking by Mindy Ahrens

How to Apply Design Thinking in Class, Step By Step by Mindshift

*Design Thinking…What is That? by Fast Company

 

 

Makerspaces Going Mainstream in Libraries

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.13.06 PM

Many of us have been reading about Makerspaces over the last couple of years as an emerging trend in libraries and school spaces. No longer is it a fringe, underground trend, but it is becoming mainstream with events like the Maker Faire at the Whitehouse, Home Depot selling 3D printers and materials, and general magazines like Newsweek sharing that, “ The Maker Movement Reinvents Education.” Whether your library decides to include a Makerspace or not we all can be a part of the “Maker Movement” and promote what libraries have been doing well for centuries- helping patrons explore their personal interests and gain knowledge on all subjects in all types of media.

Some of us have makerspaces or are currently developing them, so we have a great community to share our experiences. Others of us may have tech centers or innovation labs going into our schools so as librarians we want to provide research and resources on new media in the maker realm. Last year, we ventured into creating a makerspace at the Shorecrest library and we are moving into year two of development. We hope to share what we have learned in the process and elicit your experiences too.

If You Build it, They Will Come, but Now What?

Most of the professional library journals have been writing about what you need in a makerspace and how to design it. So as to not to reinvent the wheel, but 3D print it, I found the following articles to be great guides to help start outfitting and planning a makerspace. The hit list entails 3D printing, laser cutters, CNC machines, micro-controllers, robotic equipment and electronics.

     Makerspaces, Participatory Learning, and Libraries by the Unquiet Librarian

     Manufacturing Makerspaces by American Library Journal

     Geek Out by Greg Landgraf in American Library Journal

     3D-Printers: a revolution headed for your library by Betha Gutsche

     The Making of Makerspaces By Lauren Britton on Digital Shift

     Makerspace Playbook School Edition by Maker Education Initiative

     Why Your Library May Soon Have Laser-Cutters and 3D Printers by Clive Thompson

 3P is More important than 3D- People, Programming, and Process

Of course, 3D printers are grabbing a majority of the attention, and they definitely get people in the door, but the heart of the movement is creating a collaborative environment, guiding creativity with programming and modeling the hands-on- trial and error approach to making. Many students will think a 3D printer is magic and can print anything. But just like the computer or iPad, it starts with human creativity with a purpose that drives real creation and the utility of the equipment. There are limitations too. Some of our earliest requests were for cell phone cases and favorite characters from entertainment, so anticipate your responses for these requests. This new technology is another opportunity to teach original content creation vs copyright. We have developed the policy that states the use of the 3D printer is for learning 3D design and tied to curricular projects. Just like a reference interview we conduct a design file interview, so we know what a student is attempting to print and why. If a student starts with a base design from someone else we remind them to cite their source. Recently, ALA published an early exploration into the implications of 3D printing in the library in the document, “Progress in the Making

Low-tech can be just as powerful and exciting for students as high-tech gadgets for developing creativity; think of Cain’s Arcade and the multiple uses of cardboard. Duct tape and pipe cleaners are good materials for early prototyping in the design process. Additionally, I’d like to stress that you can teach 3D design without a 3D printer. Now there are easy entry-point apps and computer programs for designing objects. Teachers can asks students to illustrate a concept in their classes with through Sketchup or 123D Design without the need to physically print it. For some librarians this could be the advocacy route to take in order to add a 3D printer or makerspace to their library.

Building the Maker Community

As with all library programs and materials, sharing and educating the staff is a major component to integrating into the curriculum. The maker movement is a great opportunity to forge new partnerships with teachers that may not have ventured into the library in awhile.   Tap into current curriculum paradigms- PBL-STEM-STEAM to introduce to your faculty if they are not already on board. I created a Venn diagram to share with my administration team to show how makerspaces support PBL and STEM.  Pull in your tech and art teachers because they tend to be early adopters of innovative projects and have experience teaching in a studio-model, design-thinking process. This outreach process takes the most time to develop, but is the most important to build a maker foundation. Here are some articles that can bolster your support.

     Are School Librarians Part of Your PBL Dream Team? by Suzie Boss

     Project-Based Learning Through a Maker’s Lens by Patrick Waters

Be a Maker-Media-Specialist

Have fun in the creative process yourself. Use sites like Make Magazine and Instructables to try you hand in some fun projects that interests you. Join the larger Maker Movement in your area. Check if your public libraries have opened a makerspace or are in the processing of making one. Look for meetup groups for hackerspaces and makerspaces to build your own skills and find experts to bring to your school. Add design challenges alongside your reading contests to give students a reason to use the makerspace. If you get the opportunity to visit a national or local Maker Faire go see what makers are are creating and see equipment in operation. See or submit creative programming to Makeit@yourlibrary. While libraries have always served as institutions of learning and hubs of collaboration there is new energy from the Maker Movement generating a new community of users in our libraries.