Makerspaces in Academia

Makerspaces in Academia

Makerspaces, coding/programming, and DIY activities are quickly gaining traction and momentum in mainstream culture. As more people become interested in making and hacking, places with the space, equipment, staff to assist in these endeavors and to encourage collaboration and sharing between makers, become necessary. Public libraries in particular have been quick to recognize this need and step up to provide these services to their communities. While public libraries all over have started makerspaces/hackerspaces, academic libraries seem to be less vocal or even visible in the maker movement as a whole. Below, I exhibit a few of these spaces as they exist in academia, as I have yet to see examples of academic library makerspaces that haven’t been touched on by the ACRL TechConnect blog post, “Makerspaces Move into Academic Libraries.” Please let me know if I’ve missed any makerspaces in academic libraries or other makerspaces in academia in the comments!


The 3DLab at the University of Michigan is located in the Art, Architecture, and Engineering Library. It offers services in 3D printing, motion capture, data visualization, and 3D scanning, as well as training, workshops, and help with project development.




The Maker Lab in the Humanities at the University of Victoria in BC, Canada, explores the intersection of digital humanities and makerism. The design of the Maker Lab is a unique result of combining a “humanities research lab with a collaborative makerspace”. Projects at the Maker Lab range from studying “how interpretations of literature change in the digital age” to exploring “tacit learning” through, at a basic level, making and doing. Check out the Maker Lab in the Humanities website to learn more about their projects, research, and team!


The Output Shop at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation is another example of an academic makerspace that is attached to a particular college/area of study within a university that happens to have a subject library (Art and Architecture) connected to it. Output Shop offers services in 3D printing, laser cutting, and “plotting large drawings”.


Similar to the Maker Lab at the University of Victoria, the FabLab at Western University’s Department of History, aims to support digital history and digital humanities research while also encouraging the students and faculty of the Western University History Department to engage in the collaborative making culture. Services and software offered in the FabLab include GIS software, A/V production software, laser cutting, 3D printing, 3D scanning and modeling, among others! To learn more about the FabLab at Western University, read this blog post by a faculty member from Western University!


Looking at the types of services and spaces offered in academia, I am struck by the difference between the popular maker movement and the movement taking place in academia. It seems to me that these services and spaces aren’t necessarily makerspaces but instead are fabrication labs, with the Maker Lab at University of Victoria and the FabLab at Western University making connections between the two. I would like to explore this further in a later post but I’m interested in hearing what others think about this! Comments and feedback are always welcome!

Image Credit: “NYC – Columbia University – Alma Mater and Low Memorial Library” by Flickr user Wally Gobetz

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