Saturday, February 06, 2016

Makerspaces in Libraries

Here’s a picture of several New Trier students having fun working on a puzzle in the Library:
This all started for us last December when we decided to offer some “de-stress” activities during the lunch periods in the week before finals.  We had a variety games (and participation from our Gaming Club – thank you!), coloring and drawing, puzzles and even hot chocolate. Plus, we had visits from Comfort Dogs (thank you to that club, too!) and Haven Youth and Family Services who demonstrated yoga for interested students and faculty. 

When we returned to school in January, students asked right away about where the chess set was and we ended up creating a space to house games, Legos, craft supplies, and puzzles.  While we haven’t yet incorporated all of the hand-on activities that many other libraries have (there is a 3-D printer elsewhere in the building), we are excited by the student interest…. The puzzle in that picture? It was brought from home. And we are still actively seeking donations, particularly for Legos. It is great to see our students feel so comfortable and “at home” in the library, to be spending time talking to each other face-to-face and not on screens, and to simply be taking a break from the stresses of their day. 

It is exciting to see that colleges are also exploring this trend, as profiled in this recent article from Mind/Shift and from The New York Times: “Wood Shop Enters the Age of High-Tech”.   For more ideas on makerspaces in high school libraries, see a recent series of articles in School Library Journal. Two librarians who strongly advocate this work are Kristin Fontichiaro (University of Michigan) and Michelle Luhtala (who created this 5 minute video on makerspaces), although there are many, many more. A long list of resources is available from the Renovated Learning blog as well as more background information from the Institute of Museums and Library Services.