St. Petersburg College Innovation Lab with Chad Mairn

July 5, 2019

For each of the virtual tours we have conducted, I am going to select some of the highlights from each presentation to help with the findability and accessibility – to enhance access to collaborative knowledge about makerspaces. This virtual tour is available on YouTube.

Chad has integrated emerging technologies with library services and users for 14 years. Mairn founded the Innovation Lab at St. Petersburg College in 2014, and since that time the Innovation Lab has grown and improved services. Throughout all of Chad’s work, he has connected with the communities that he serves to meet information needs – in curious and creative ways! All of the examples he cites are about how he has engaged with different groups to use emerging technologies to solve problems.

A lot of the work of a makerspace is to introduce new technologies to library users. Chad is a full-time librarian, who manages all of the library work, and also opened the makerspace by writing grants. Some grant proposals are available on his website including the original 2013 grant proposal.

After this successful first grant which led to Mairn writing a lot more grants to secure funding for the Innovation Lab. This includes the Gadgets for Good grant which secured funding for redistributing electronic gadgets to those in need.

The library at St. Petersburg College is mixed use – a mix of public library and college library. As a result, he has created a lot of workshops and something called the Maker Boot Camp which teaches kids all about emerging technologies, and especially coding. Makerspaces are not just in one space! The Innovation Lab also started a butterfly garden and scientific observation.

This virtual tour is highly recommended for individuals who want ideas to get help getting started – both for advocating for why they should create a space – and also some creative ways just to get started with making and makerspaces. Chad has been able to do all of this with no budget, and no additional staff, relying on grants and volunteers and awesome collaborators to make it happen!