Maker Space Maker
Lauren Britton is “transforming the role of public libraries and inspiring a generation of librarians,” says nominator Joe Murphy. She’s among the first librarians to launch a Maker space in a library, and her efforts have laid out a model for other libraries to follow. She’s also helped lead an international dialog about libraries, creativity, and empowerment.
As a student intern, says Fayetteville Free Library, NY, director Sue Considine (also a Mover & Shaker, see p. 28), Britton proposed the idea for the creation of a “Fab Lab.” Then, in October 2011, she pitched the idea at the Contact Summit, where individuals can compete for one of three $10,000 awards. She walked off with $10,000 for her library; a free campaign on Indiegogo.com raised $5,000 more. When the Fab Lab opened in January 2012, it was a mobile operation with MakerBot 3-D printers donated by a local computer company (see LJ 10/1/12, p. 27ff.). A permanent space is under way, thanks to a $250,000 New York State Library Construction Fund grant. The lab features soldering irons, sewing machines, a green screen, and a video camera, among other items.
At the Clinton Global Initiative: America conference last summer, Britton joined a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) working group to discuss “Maker spaces as an informal learning opportunity for America’s youth,” she says. In October 2012, she brainstormed Maker space ideas with librarians and government officials from Ethiopia during the Beyond Access: Libraries Powering Development conference. “These libraries weren’t purchasing 3-D printers, they were developing paper- and soap-making kits, but they were true Maker spaces—giving their community members the tools and resources to create something, to work together,” says Britton. That’s her goal, too.