As the Maker Movement starts to gain momentum, schools that are trying to find ways to foster the do-it-yourself environment can learn a few lessons from another nexus in the universe: public libraries.
Dale Dougherty, founding editor and publisher of Make Magazine — and the de factor leader of the Maker Movement — has a vision to create a network of libraries, museums, and schools with what he calls “makerspaces” that draw on common resources and experts in each community. Libraries and museums, he said, are easier places to incorporate makerspaces than schools, because they have more space flexibility and they’re trying to attract teens with their programs.
“Schools have already got the kids,” Dougherty noted wryly, at the recent American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. One day during the conference, dubbed Maker Monday, focused on the Maker Movement, which emphasizes learning by engaging in tech-related projects. Two packed sessions, one standing room only, were filled with librarians clearly fascinated by the potential of attracting teens (and even parents) to Maker activities in libraries.
Schools can learn from libraries that participated in the inaugural Maker Camps last summer. The librarians speaking at ALA proffered seven lessons that apply beyond libraries to schools and other potential makerspaces.
1) KNOW YOUR SPACE.
“Why are you here?” That was one of the most common questions asked of the staff at the Make Magazine booth at the ALA. The answer: one of the hardest things for people interested in making is finding an appropriate physical space, and libraries actually have that space.
But not every space is alike, or even appropriate. Carla Avitabile of the Novato branch of the Marin County Free Library in California found some projects just aren’t suitable in certain activity rooms. For example, she said, they couldn’t do a glow-in-the-dark candy project because of the potential mess caused by boiling sugar directly above carpet.
Travis Good, the co-founder of the Maker City Census, said he visited 68 makerspaces to develop his criteria for readiness. At the top of list for libraries? “Tolerance for noise,” along with the Continue reading