on #macgyverlibrarianship…

One of my favorite things about the AISL Annual Conference is the opportunity to visit the libraries of friends and colleagues from different places and act on my nosy tendencies. I like to look in the workroom cupboards and I often peek behind the circ desks, and in the closets and drawers (Hahaha! Now none of you will ever invite me to your homes…). The opportunity to spend time wandering about in someone else’s “library home” is invaluable. I like seeing how people organize their work flows. Seeing what kinds of books they order. Seeing the kind of book stops they use. Seeing  the wording of their signage. Seeing what supplies and things they put out for students to use. I like seeing all of it.

To be very honest, sometimes the opportunity turns me green with envy–I really, really want the NanaWall that I saw at The Willows School. #ShakesFistInAirAtCathyLeverkus


The Nanawall at The Willows School

Sometimes it sparks appreciation–Wow, I am SO fortunate to have as many small group-study rooms as I do.

Sometimes the opportunity sparks inspiration–Hey, I never thought of doing that. I can do that!

One of the challenging things about the conference is that we, very understandably, typically see gorgeous, newly renovated spaces that are architectural showcases. The vast majority of AISL librarians, however, have to find innovative and creative ways to meet the evolving needs of our school communities in our existing facilities, and typically, within existing budgets.

Upon returning from #AISL16LA, I had a fun exchange on Twitter with @emmalibrarylove (Katie), @researchwell (Tasha), @bonnieubarnes (Bonnie), @annalynnmartino (Anna), and Sara from Milton Academy. Through this tweet thread, I learned about the #macgyverlibrarianship movement.


As far as I can tell, the #macgyverlibrarianship hashtag is the brainchild of @jenniferlagarde a librarian in North Carolina who blogs at The Adventures of Library Girl. Basically, the #macgyverlibrarianship movement is a whole bunch of librarians sharing budget-friendly, creative hacks they have used to wring more functionality from their spaces and from their budgets. They share their creations and ideas on twitter and add the hashtag so it can be found.

If you are not a Twitter user or you haven’t searched hashtags much before, take a moment and click on the link below to give it a try.

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How cool is that, huh? Be careful, though, if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself drilling down through the tweet stream and it’s a rabbit hole. You could be lost for hours… #YouveBeenWarned

Things these librarians are doing with paint, fishing line, a glue gun, and some nails is astonishing.

#macgyverlibrarianship Wannabe

I must say, that I have never been able to count myself amongst the smartest kids in my classes, but my two saving talents to this point in my life have been my ability to choose good people to hang out with and my ability to steal borrow appropriate use steal the ideas of other people and find useful ways to incorporate them into my work.

Aside: Since returning from #AISL16LA I’ve been madly stealing incorporating @FSHALibrarian ‘s (Nora) research scope and sequence as well as her source literacy concepts into our program and instructional goals for next year. It’s a work in progress so will probably be a post down the road.

Here’s what I’ve stolen so far (apologies, but some of this is a retread of stuff that’s been shared in various places previously):




After: 4″ locking casters from Home Depot

Note: If you make your furniture easily moveable, people will move your furniture around. It makes total sense, but you need to be mentally prepared as users of your library will do what you have invited them to do. Teachers are polite and move tables back where they belong, but plan on getting over obsessing about the precise placement of tables and chairs in the places where they “belong.” #IfISayItIWillEventuallyBelieveIt



English teachers like seminar-style seating. And that’s the whole point, right?


While we’re not a designated “maker space,” kids are making stuff in our library all the time. We repurposed one of our student-built carts and turned it into our supply station. Just in time for end-of-year display board season.


Rolling white boards


On a budget…


Before. Sarah Richardson from HGTV would not approve…

After! Who knew what could be done with fabric and a staple gun before Youtube?

After! Who knew what could be done with fabric and a staple gun before Youtube? Not sure if Sarah would approve, but it’s a lot better than it was a week ago! Hahaha!


There is something about writing on the walls that appeals to kids of all ages. Not cheap, but maybe some of the best money I’ve spent. Gets FAR more use than white boards mounted in other rooms.

A number of people have asked about an idea that got shared on using time lapse video to show library use as a tool for library advocacy. There are many time lapse apps available, but I use the Lapse It app for iPad  largely because it was free and it was first on the list. #BadLibrarian

Here is a short sample from a random day last April.

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My price-is-right video rig!

I would experiment with the duration between shots in order to best capture the ebb and flow of students in your space. Haven’t used it myself yet, but I just discovered this handy Timelapse Calculator that might be worth a try. #ThisIsExciting

I hope something in this very random mix of things has been helpful to someone out there. If you’ve got any great #macgyverlibrarianship ideas to share, post them to Twitter! #SharingIsCaring

While you’re at it, go ahead and also try searching #AISL16LA The great notes, ideas, and pics make it a great hunting ground for ideas whether you were able to attend the LA Conference this year or not!

A final note on hashtags: If you’re not a big Twitter user, hashtags, while typically used very much like subject headings to make like-content searchable in the Twitterverse, are also commonly used to give context to/for a Tweet.



6 thoughts on “on #macgyverlibrarianship…

  1. I got many laughs from your informative post, David. Thanks for the tips. I have a coat hanger, a Sharpie, three inches of tape, and a stray sock. I’m on my way to Google #macgyverlibrarianship and see what I can do with this stuff.

  2. Favorite line from the 2016 AISL membership survey, when asked what more a respondent would like to see/learn about via the blog: “MORE DAVE WEE!”. If I had a nickel for every time I said “yes!” or giggled aloud while reading this blog post, I would be a whole lot richer.
    So interesting that your students prefer drawing on white board painted walls rather than wall mounted boards. I live with three who for years now have scratched that itch–why I didn’t apply it to my work environment is beyond me. Thanks Dave! Love your game cart, adore the emotional advice about feeling like a victim of our own success when people move the stuff we intend for them to move. I was a little perturbed (where’s my strike out in posting a blog comment?), a lot perturbed, when I came in on Monday morning and found the remnants of what looked like a terrific frat party that had taken place in the library over the weekend. Then I thought to myself, “Wait, I want them to use the library. This is evidence of heavy usage. It’s a painful, trashy, measure of our success in creating a warm, welcoming study environment.” And I can almost make a paperclip chain to count the number of days I have left before the little darlings leave for the summer and I recharge my batteries to smile and calmly pick up again in September.
    Other post crush worthy moments: carpet gliders, hand cream mentions, time lapse videos, and my boy MacGyver in all his glory at the beginning. You’re a #genius, Dave Wee. Thanks for making me laugh and for making me feel understood. I’m going to build in a special field trip at the Summer Institute for you to visit our never used downstairs workroom which is a time capsule to 1980’s librarianship. You’ll go nuts. It’ll be fun to watch. #iwillbringthepopcorn #youbringhandsanitizerandamask

  3. There are so many great ideas in this humorous Blog, per-usual in a David Wee Blog. I agree with Katie, more David Wee Blogs are a must. Also, you must know, that the Nana Wall is great, but I envy your small group study rooms and the maker cart. Please keep sending more Blogs.

  4. Count yourself as having another member of the #macgyverlibrarianship group. As always, entertaining and informative.

  5. Awesome as usual, David! One thing I’d point out, as someone who had this at one time, is the issue of ergonomy when you add casters to table legs. If they’re the perfect height at first, when you add 1 to 2 inches of casters on, suddenly they can be a hair too tall to work at comfortably. The remedy for this is to just take a little of the legs off – MacGyver has a table saw, right? – and it’s all good. Now I’m going to go home and reupholster my dining room chairs – thanks for the inspiration!

    • Really good point! We tested two tables with casters for a couple of weeks before we did the whole lab and you are absolutely right that the tables feel an inch or two high. We decided to live with them for now because we are hoping that our capital request for new chairs will come through for our 16-17 budget and if we get new chairs we wanted to see how they felt with the tables before taking them down. Table sawing is beyond my MacGyver skill level (you’d be calling me “Lefty” at AISL in New Orleans), but out facilities folk are super supportive and go out of their way to help us out with our beyond DIY projects.

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