As making grows in schools, many are discussing how they might utilize their library to facilitate this. In exploring the relationship between the school library and school makerspace, it’s not difficult to see why conversations about the growth of makerspaces are often tied to the conversation about the future of libraries. Both makerspaces and libraries are constructivist learning spaces that share several commonalities:
Libraries have materials spanning wide arrays of subject matter. This encourages constructing knowledge across and outside of disciplines. Makerspaces provide access to physical resources such as materials for crafting, engineering, or media. Both encourage blending these specialties in the service of passion based learning
Libraries provide access to information resources that would not be accessible to many, even in today’s highly connected world. Makerspaces provide access to tools and materials that would be too expensive or impractical for most individuals or classrooms.
Communities of interest and practice are brought together in communal space, promoting sociality and collaboration. Workshops, hackathons, book groups, and clubs, are encouraged to take place or to form in these spaces. These communities serve as an audience of users and viewers and encourage both creation and sharing within the community.
Spotlight on Vancouver Public Schools
In Vancouver Public Schools, libraries are central to integrating making across the district. To begin this process a team of VPS teacher librarians (TLs) who had been experimenting with making in their own libraries have taken on the task of helping their colleagues implement maker education ideas and practices into their school. Before all VPS students and TLs could get started, the team’s first plan of action was to introduce making by providing opportunities for other TLs to experience it firsthand. Spotlight author Traci Chun is the Teacher Librarian at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Washington.
If we wanted teacher librarians to start making in their libraries with their students, we had to start by introducing it to them. We all know a great way to learn is to jump right in and participate. We wanted teacher librarians to know exactly how powerful making could be and why libraries are a great place to start.
How did we do it?
We knew going in that we had the support of upper level leadership at the district level. Knowing we had a permission to be “brave” and to explore a new concept in our libraries allowed even skeptical teacher librarians to try something new. This support allowed us to dedicate valuable district time to provide opportunities for our teacher librarians to explore making. Without this support, it would have been challenging to reach all teacher librarians.
Willingness to try
Not all teacher librarians were ready to jump in at first but all were willing to listen and learn. This can be powerful; most teacher librarians are ready to evolve and change when it comes to providing the best program for students. Providing them with time to play, resources, and allowing them permission to fail was crucial. Teacher librarians were willing to try because they realized this was powerful and could help transform their libraries.
Started with basics
We provided teacher librarians with some basic skills and resources to get them started in their space. Legos, cardboard, some great articles, Worlds of Making by school librarian Laura Fleming etc. and told them to try something new. We gave them time during Communities of Practice to discuss successes and failures; we shared lessons and resources. We tried to provide a place for them to start playing so they could then see how it could fit into their library program.Teacher librarians felt empowered and had enough background information to start trying it in their space.