R. David Lankes writes that librarians are charged with facilitating knowledge creation in the communities they serve (Lankes, 2011) and that this work is largely accomplished via conversation. Makerspaces are typically unique, designed to fulfill specific information needs. Since makerspaces provide democratized access to emerging technology, this technology is often very expensive. Library makerspaces are therefore located some distance from other library makerspaces, especially in the western United States.
At Boise State University, where I manage and operate a makerspace, the nearest academic library makerspaces to ours is 295 miles away, and the second closest is over 400 miles away. It’s difficult for us to communicate in real time to visit other makerspaces. As makerspaces are a new service in academic library makerspaces, it’s difficult to know how to best design the service to meet user information needs.
When I was on a sabbatical in fall 2016 I toured makerspaces in states and started to set up virtual tours of makerspaces across the country. The makerspaces were both within libraries and outside libraries. Some were non-profits. Some were large stand-alone buildings, four stories tall, and others occupied a small area of a room. With each site visit and each virtual tour, I was able to learn more information that helped me design and craft our space. Learning these best practices in real time, in a conversation setting, allow all makerspace leaders to create and be nimble and flexible and to constantly improve their services.
Thankfully, these connections have provided me, and other makerspace leaders, to make improvements that help libraries manage their makerspaces, and to facilitate users in their knowledge creation.
I hope that you enjoy the makerspace virtual tours. If you’d like to be hosted, or would like to hold a conversation about makerspaces, please feel free to reach out to Erika or I. We want to continue to help makerspace leaders improve.
Lankes, R. (2011). The atlas of new librarianship. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (2011).