Our local makers club, Northumberland Makers, held an open house last weekend to celebrate their grand opening in a new, dedicated location (a pretty cool community space, but that’s another story).
It offers access to many tech tools: 3D printers, tool & die cutters, a soldering station, robotics and much more – but what really struck me was that all of the new technology peacefully (and dare I say enthusiastically) co-existed beside their low-tech offerings such as toy hacking, duct tape crafting and collaborative weaving. Below is my duct tape rose and my son’s creation (“I feel like Sid from Toy Story but not as evil”).
I found this very heartening in light of our library’s choice to narrow the focus on our own makerspace this past school year. We’ve seen many inspiring spaces at school and public libraries, but had to face two important facts:
- our current skillset, areas of interest and budget lies more in realm of crafting
- our tech dept is ramping up their student space (3-D printer, rockets, robotics, etc)
And so our Tinker Table was born. It lives at the front of the library (although it makes periodic trips to the Commons), and students can find a new craft or activity each week. While we’ve included Arduino in our arsenal, most offerings involve low- (button maker) or no-tech materials (washi-taped thank you cards).
It’s wonderful to be reminded that while we aim to offer something for everyone, it’s okay not to try to be all things to all patrons. Whew (cue sigh of relief). Off to tinker….
Thanks for the post, Shelagh–and the reminder that when it comes to each library we have to remember (as my 16-year-old would say) “You do You.”
We also have a very prominent IT/Makerspace/Tinkerlab presence on campus–none of which are directly connected with the libraries. That has been great overall, but also somewhat stressful in my mind, just because I feel there is a lot of pressure for libraries to jump on that bandwagon.
Ultimately, I am focusing on supporting what these spaces do with great resources that they can display in their spaces, and with offering to display student work in the library. I am also working on things like a stress-reducing fun table with doodle books, Lego blocks, drawing supplies, bubble-wrap to pop (great during exam time), etc.
Our libraries have to be what our school needs, whatever that looks like–and as long as we are ready for whatever comes next, I think we’ll be fine!
Thanks, Jennifer! I agree with you about the bandwagon – I think we should champion those librarians who are rocking their own makerspaces (I’m talking to you, Dotty!) while also giving ourselves a break for rolling with what works best in our spaces and for our student bodies.