What Role Can Blended Librarians Add To The Library Makerspace

If your library doesn’t already offer a makerspace, it will probably will in the next few years. Even without such a dedicated space, you can organize a maker event for your community members. Here’s an example of a maker event I organized in collaboration with our College of Engineering.

There are no hard and fast rules on what members of the library staff participate in creating or operating the makerspace. Libraries with large staffs may have a dedicated managerial position assigned to operate the space. That individual typically has experience with 3D printers, building electronic devices or leading workshops on using maker technology. At smaller libraries it may be a mix of staff members who keep the space in operation or there may be collaboration with community members who come in to help create and manage maker events.

To what extent could blended librarians be contributing to the library makerspace? The most obvious level of involvement would relate to the design of learning products such as tutorials or guides that would help community members to learn how to use maker resources. To some extent, that might miss the point of a makerspace where the goal is to create experiential learning by giving people opportunities to learn by doing – not by going through tutorials. It probably makes more sense for blended librarians to work with the makerspace administrator and event developer to learn where there might be learning gaps that could be improved or eliminated through better instructional design.

For example, when we conducted our maker event in which we had non-engineering students learning how to use soldering irons and other tools to build a small electronic device, there were a number of pain points for the participants owing to a lack of a well designed path for getting them to the skill level where the could comfortably handle the tools. With some better design we could have planned out the maker event to help the participants gain confidence with a basic skill or two that they’d need later to complete the project. There were definitely opportunities for a better design approach to how the program was organized for learning through making.

Wherever your library happens to be with makerspace development, the folks at EdSurge have organized a guide to makerspaces, “How to Build a Maker Community“. It’s a reasonably good conglomeration of articles about makerspaces, from getting started, to teaching within the space and even offers an inventory of tools and supplies for a makerspace.

If you are bringing your instructional design skills to the library makerspace please share your experience. What other roles can blended librarians play in the library makerspace?

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