This past weekend, the MakerBridge team attended LITA Forum in Louisville, Kentucky,, an annual conference for professionals involved with new and developing technologies in libraries. We planned to attend in order to present a poster about MakerBridge and to speak to librarians about the benefits of bringing making into libraries. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that a good portion of the conference aside from our poster was dedicated to talking about making and makerspaces. We loved hearing about so many different experiences and came away having learned a lot. Make sure you check out our takeaways after reading these brief descriptions of the sessions we were able to attend.
Travis Good, “Making Maker Libraries”
Travis Good of Make Magazine presented the opening keynote, speaking about the evolution of making, the importance of maker ecosystems, and the need to share best practices and information with each other.
Charlton Braganza, Nicole Dixon, “The Maker Movement and the Library: Creating, Collaborating, and Learning at Louisville Free Public Library”
These two librarians spoke about many of the interesting maker projects that have been explored at Louisville Free Public Library, and gave advice to others based on their own experiences creating a makerspace.<
Nate Hill, “The 4th Floor Project and Library Transformation”
Nate Hill, Assistant Director of the Chattanooga Public Library, shared his story of transforming a dusty storage space in the library into a highly successful makerspace with and giving a sense of ownership to the community.
Dan Alexander, “Digital Creation: In 3D!”
Dan Alexander of the Northeast Kansas Library System covered a number of interesting technologies for creating in three dimensions (3D printers and beyond), gave his advice on useful tools, and shared a number of helpful resources.
Jason Griffey, “Making Our Futures: How Hardware Could Further Free Libraries”
Jason Griffey from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga excited LITA attendees by including hands-on making during his session as he talked about why librarians should be makers, too, and how libraries can make their own hardware and tools for much cheaper than purchasing them.
Charlie Bennett, “Tinker, Teacher, Maker, Space: Two Co-working Experiments in the Academic Library”
Charlie Bennett presented about two makerspace experiments at Georgia Tech’s library, how makerspaces are about a philosophy rather than specific tools, and the importance of listening to a makerspace’s community to find out their desires and needs.
Matt Barinholtz, “Making Makers – Developing Maker-Educators for Library Programs”
Matt Barinholtz of Future Makers emphasized the importance of creators and artists to a makerspace, defined the idea of makerspace readiness, and spoke about the need to create rosters of maker educators in our communities.
Women and people of color are still very underrepresented in the maker community, and gendered language oriented toward men is often used when talking about maker culture. Check out this good blog post by Eric Phetteplace: thanks to #libtechwomen
Makerspaces are more than just tools and more than just 3D printing. People collaborating and creating is the most important element to a makerspace.
Sharing and collaboration! This was a huge theme that kept recurring. Sharing and collaboration lie at the heart of the maker movement and include many different types of important relationships: makers to makers, community to librarians, libraries to partners, and so on.
Makerspaces should grow directly from community interest. Let your patrons define how your makerspace should function and what goes on there. This will make the space much more successful and will give them a sense of ownership.
It is important to share what we are doing, to make things open source, and to help others learn from our experiences.
Don’t be afraid to show your mess. Encourage risk taking and just trying things to see what works. You don’t need to present a finished product before you let people start using it. It’s a good idea to take small steps and do things gradually so you can test out what works and what doesn’t.
Librarians need to join the maker community instead of just facilitating it. It will not only improve your makerspace but can help you improve your library, as well.
We had a great time and were glad to see so many people talking about these topics and sharing so many important insights. Did you attend LITA Forum? Tell us what you learned or what your favorite session was! Do any of these lessons speak to your own experience? Share your comments below or on Twitter.