Library Programs, Youth Services

Makerspaces for Kids!

What is a makerspace?

Simply, they are community workshops – a space for DIY projects, from writing to jewelry making to robot construction to 3D printing.  For younger kids, it might be building block houses. For teens, it might be a computer hooked up to AV equipment to make a “studio”. For adults, it might be a place to build a model or a prototype for a small business idea.

Sometimes they are called hackerspaces or fablabs.

Why makerspaces in libraries?

Libraries already are community hubs. Sharing resources and tools in a community environment, allowing for experimentation in with a wide array of tools and materials without a huge expense for an individual, makes sense. In a community space, people can collaborate and share ideas.

What does this mean for the future of libraries?

Libraries have traditionally been a place to collect ideas and resources — and then put them out for consumption. These days, a library can expand its role to allow for the creation of ideas. The foundation of knowledge is already there at the patron’s fingertips in the physical and virtual space of the library. A makerspace just adds the tools and a workspace, allowing patrons to engage that knowledge in a creative way.

Why have makerspaces for kids?

Hands-on, experiential learning is key for children and teens in learning. Play is key for children and teens in learning. Being able to apply intellectual concepts to the physical world makes learning real. Being able to experience a maker space in an open, non-threatening space such as a library makes it all the more fun for kids. Connecting play to learning will build lifelong learners.

How do I get a makerspace started for the kids that visit my library?

Start small now, and think big for the future. Do you do a craft in your free time? Are you an artist? A writer? Do you sew? Like model planes? Origami? Beading? Can you get some Legos at a yard sale? Know a friend in the community who “tinkers” and can help you? Can that craft, hobby or “tinkerer” get the ball rolling on starting your first makerspace? Set aside a table in your library, organize the materials, and get a sign with simple instructions up.

Next, expand upon it. Research what is right for your patrons. You could take it up a notch by adding in simple robotic kits, jewelry-making materials, or a computer attached to a tv where kids can create and mix music or movies. Involve community members to gather and share resources or DIY knowledge.

And visit this site – it’s a useful guide for when you’re ready to do some deeper research!
 http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/a-librarians-guide-to-makerspaces/

About Ryanne

Ryanne Cooper, former Bureau Chief of Library Development at the New Mexico State Library, is now a freewheeling library supporter, advocate, and fan of New Mexico's libraries from afar.

1 Comment

  1. Sure could use any suggestions! We are recruiting for the Youth Maker Fair on December 28.
    Thanks for the article! Looking forward to all the possibilities!