Makerspaces: My Favorite Part about Being a Librarian

As librarians, we have many components of our jobs. It is our job to develop and maintain the collection, continue relationships and collaborations with staff, connect students with the right books, advocate for what we do to our administrators as well as the rest of the stakeholders, keep up with a makerspace, and the list goes on and on. In the age of Covid, we have had to greatly shift our roles to figure out how to make the same impact on our school community as we did pre-pandemic. It’s a lot to manage, especially if you are on your own!

I don’t know about you, but I always have a *favorite* part of my job. You know what I mean, that one aspect of your job that you enjoy a little bit (or a lot!) more than everything else; the thing that is your go-to task when you are ruminating about something complex or are putting off another task that you don’t like so much. It might be working on a graphic for your latest program or event, processing new books, making displays, etc.

My *favorite* is our library’s makerspace. I love our library’s makerspace, now in its third iteration, for all that it is and all that it has potential to be. There is always something new to learn about makerspaces, whether it is the latest gadget, ideas for connecting to curriculum, or the intersection of equity and makerspaces. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy learning about maker education, its foundations, and its applications in a makerspace, both in a physical space as well as in a virtual setting. Makerspaces and maker education make so much sense to me not only as a librarian, but as a teacher. Giving students the freedom to explore new materials and ideas, to develop critical thinking and collaboration skills (and researching skills!), and to be themselves – as well as a safe place for them to learn more about themselves! – an effective makerspace does all of these things. School libraries and classrooms work towards these same goals too, so it’s a natural fit for teachers and librarians to work together.

When focusing on our makerspace, I can be immersed in the theory, creating a new masterpiece, researching the most cost-effective way to bring (insert fun idea here) to our students, or something else entirely. And yes, I will put weeding and ordering aside (when I’m not on a deadline!) in order to learn more about making and makerspaces.

This year, I am looking forward to launching our beautiful new makerspace that will open in Fall 2021. I am reflecting on my first two iterations of our makerspace – the first one in our original library and the second in our temporary space – and refining what that looks like for our students as well as the rest of our school community. I am consulting with some of the best in the maker community to share my ideas, philosophies, and current practices to receive feedback on equity and impact.

Makerspaces are my passion. They are my favorite and I believe are a key component of school libraries today. Makerspaces are not solely pre-designed crafts or games that you can pull out on a whim. Any version of a makerspace or maker activity takes thought, energy, and intention (and maybe a little money, too). Only then will it be truly successful – both for the users and you as a librarian.

What is your favorite part of your job as a librarian? Surely there’s something you love just a little bit more than everything else. 🙂

-Rachel

PS: Many more makerspace posts coming this year and next. Lots of exciting things happening that I am looking forward to sharing soon.

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