Erik Berman subscribes to a “teen run, teen led” mentality, according to senior librarian Sharon Fung at San José Public Library (SJPL). “He works tirelessly to get to know his teens, build their confidence, and guide them into taking an active role in the library.” Hand in hand with local teens and professional designers, Berman is responsible for the creation of the new teen center, TeenHQ, in San José’s central Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library.
Before December 2014, when she stepped into the new role of San José Public Library’s (SJPL) technology and innovation project manager (now innovations manager), Erin Berman launched SJPL’s first Maker faire, which introduced 200 people to after-school STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] programs. She believes Making can empower her community and help close the digital divide. Statewide, 25 percent of Californians in 2014 lacked broadband Internet access at home, according to a Field Poll. “When someone walks into one of our libraries and says they want to learn something, we don’t just hand them a book; we hand them the tool and teach them how to use it,” Berman says.
A finalist for School Library Journal’s 2014 School Librarian of the Year Award, Colleen Graves has made her mark developing top-notch Maker spaces at Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, and her current school, Ryan High School, in Denton, as well as lesson plans and other resources applicable to many Maker spaces. When Graves began her career in education 14 years ago, though, it was as an English teacher.
The maker movement and 3-D printing technology catalyze innovation and promote entrepreneurship by emphasizing “making” over “consuming” and facilitate experiential learning and rapid prototyping. To many, library Maker spaces are also often the only facility within their reach that offers open access to 3-D printing and scanning equipment. For these reasons, creating a Maker space for patrons is often an attractive project.
Can I take this home? is a question I would hear every day while in the Hotspot at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s (FLP) Village of Arts and Humanities. The “thing” in question was a MaKey MaKey, and the answer was always, “No, but you can take home what you are plugging it into!” Working with youth aged seven to 18 years old we were creating computer-connected mazes with Play-Doh, homemade Dance Dance Revolution dance-pads using copper tape, and novel game controllers operated by licking ice cream.
Since its grand opening in February 2014, the Orange County Library System’s (OCLS) Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation, and Creativity has offered patrons access to high-tech tools ranging from 3-D printers to flight simulators. In the past year and a half, the center, located in the library’s central branch in Orlando, FL, has become a locus of creativity within the community, helping patrons connect and collaborate with others who share their interests. Ormilla Vengersammy, Melrose Center manager and Technology and Education Department Head for OCLS, described the center’s growing video game design program as one such example.
While the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) is largely concerned with policy on the legislative level, an OITP-sponsored program at ALA’s 2015 annual conference, Hacking the Culture of Learning in the Library, focused on what libraries themselves need to know to function as outside-the-school-walls learning zones. Moderator Christopher Harris, school library system director at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and ALA OITP Fellow for Program on Youth and Technology Policy, began the interactive session by noting that public, school, and academic libraries have a great opportunity to frame a common theme to work around—Libraries Are Education—and set about exploring some of the issues at stake.
On June 11, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in collaboration with the Congressional Maker Caucus, Maker Media, and Nation of Makers, hosted its first Capitol Hill Maker Faire, featuring a series of panel discussions and an expo open to the public, including members of Congress. Held in conjunction with this year’s National Maker Faire at the University of District of Columbia and the White House National Week of Making, June 12–18, these events indicate the growing interest in our nation’s capital in the Maker movement and its potential implications for education, workforce development, and community building.
It wasn’t your average ribbon-cutting ceremony. In place of the traditional ribbon, a length of ivy. Instead of an oversized pair of golden scissors, pruning shears, hedge trimmers, and garden loppers. And on September 26, 2014 (Johnny Appleseed Day), with a quick snip of the shears, The Shed at Arlington Public Library’s (APL) Central Branch, VA, packed with tools for planting and digging, weeding and cutting, raking and watering, was open for business. The business of borrowing, that is.
It isn’t surprising that 3-D printers are often mentioned in the same breath as library Maker spaces. “Additive manufacturing” technology is about 30 years old, but as it becomes more refined, as well as more affordable, its growing importance to engineering and prototyping appears to be inevitable, as well as its use in everything from medicine to haute cuisine. Meanwhile, during the past few years, dozens of small desktop units have become available, most priced out of reach for casual users but within the means of many libraries interested in offering their communities access to new technologies.