The Fayetteville Free Library, or FFL, is in the process of building the first public library makerspace. Since its inception and subsequent publicity, many other libraries across both the country and the world have reached out to us for assistance in developing similar spaces for their communities. The FFL makerspace is equipped with creation and digital fabrication technology, like 3D printers, as well as the software necessary to use the technology, like the Adobe Creative Suite, computer aided design software, and more.
The Fayetteville Free Library has committed to fully develop a replicable model for library makerspaces. While each community across the country is different and will therefore require different things from their makerspaces, the essential technology, software, and programming aspects are the same. Through the FFL's expertise with the software and technology, they commit to assisting other libraries incorporate these spaces, and therefore the STEM learning opportunities these spaces create, into their current plans of service. This assistance will include professional development opportunities, both on-site and virtual, such as classes on using digital fabrication technology and software, sample programming opportunities, and developing free online resources and video tutorials.
The FFL has invested both staff time and resources into creating this space and is uniquely positioned to assist other libraries across the country in building their own vision of this dynamic STEM education informal learning opportunity.
5/1/2012-7/1/2012- Complete phase one build out of FFL physical space, purchase add additional technology and software, train additional staff
7/1/2012- Launch physical space and open for community use
7/1/2012-2/1/2013- Develop programming, film and upload video tutorials, document successes and failures, collect statistics and data on space usage (surveys, user feedback forms, program attendance, etc), program usage, collect community feedback
2/1/2013-4/1/2013- Publish white paper with lessons learned, 'how to' guide for other libraries, etc.
4/1/2013-5/1/2014- Offer free training opportunities for other organizations and libraries seeking to build public access makerspaces, both on-site and virtual on digital fabrication, getting stakeholder buy-in, software training, grant writing, etc.
6/1/2013-Run robust summer camp-style programming, pulling from curriculum and projects mentioned above.
This commitment seeks to address the growing achievement gap of children and adults in STEM subjects through informal learning opportunities created and generated in public library makerspaces. Library makerspaces are uniquely equipped to both support and facilitate makerspaces within their current organizational structure. Libraries already have materials and collection budgets, tech-savvy librarians who would require minimal training, they already foster and support knowledge creation in their communities, and librarians are experts at programming and connecting with their communities.
Makerspaces give people the tools they need to address community challenges, including growing achievement gaps in the STEM areas but also in developing art and design skills. Library makerspaces can foster a read-write culture in their communities, encourage an interest in computer programming and design, provide an introduction to digital fabrication, and directly support STEM learning in an informal, rewarding environment facilitated through the power of play and exploration.
It is impossible to predict what a student might need to know in ten or twenty years. However, we can provide them with the tools to think critically and remain curious, to become lifelong learners. Using library makerspaces as a tool and resource, we can empower them to make their world better and to be actively engaged with their intellectual growth throughout their lives.
Financial support: donations to support technology acquisition, training opportunities (including funds for travel to other libraries to assist with implementation)
Media Support: assistance in spreading the word about the available opportunities and research
The FFL is equipped to offer best practice information, training, and programming support for other organizations interested in developing these services.