Space and Design Best Practices
In his article, "Editorial Board Thoughts: Libraries as Makerspace," Colgrove described types of makerspaces along a continuum of activities, from fab lab (workshops designed around personal manufacture of physical items), to hackerspace (focused on computers and technology, attracting computer programmers and web designers), and co‑working space. In their article, "The Maker Movement and the Louisville Free Public Library,” Dixon and Ward expound that there are also online makerspaces. In her article “In Practice. Spare Me the Hype Cycle,” Farkas argues that decisions on what type of makerspace tools and programming to provide should be based on community needs and priorities. Hurti et al. recommend involving stakeholders such as students in choosing space and tools to ensure that the makerspace is designed around their interests, capabilities and aspirations.
The size of makerspaces can vary. Good described a 50- by 10-foot trailer filled with tools and fitted with phone lines, power and internet, parked across the street from the library. Cleveland Public Library’s TechCentral is 7,000 square feet (Good). Some start out small and build over time (Abram & Dysart). Hurti et al. described an educational makerspace in a 150-200 square foot corner of the library. Britton commented that they are allowing their makerspace to evolve naturally, based on community needs. Good describes another space that began at 2,000-3,000 square feet but has grown to 18,000 square feet.
Colgrove recommended a design with open working areas and whiteboard walls. According to Good, another makerspace used Idea Paint to create a low-cost alternative to whiteboard walls. Kurti et al. recommended having a flexible, open space with few walls and plenty of electrical outlets.
In his article, "Three Makerspace Models that work," Good describes three case studies that use various models for service delivery. Here are summaries of his descriptions:
Model One: Collaborate - Allen County Public Library
In order to implement a makerspace, Jeff Krull, director of the Allen County Public Library sought out a partnership as a key ingredient of developing a successful project. The public library partnered with Tekventure, an organization aiming to provide an environment offering space, tools, materials, and mentors where the community can realize their creative potential, satisfy their need to make things, and talk shop with other makers. Tekventure outfitted a trailer located outside of the library wired it for phone, power, and internet; filled it with tools; and then parked it in
a lot across the street from the lihrary. ACPL's costs are less than $200 a month for utilities and other services. Looking for partnerships can help to defray the costs of makerspaces.
Model Two: Centralize, Develop, Deploy - Cleveland Public Library
The library’s Executive director and CEO wanted to make the libraries the centre of learning, with technology making services accessible and leveling the field. Techcentral was opened in the main branch of Cleveland public library. It is a 7000 square foot facility that includes computer stations, tech toy box, a 3D printer, and other equipment. It is staffed by a 14 member team that includes trained library assistants, filtered and chosen for technological prowess. It is funded through existing budgets and corporate partnerships. Where appropriate budgets exist, directors can make the case to implement makerspaces centrally.
Model Three: Opportunistic/Entrepreneurial - University of Nevada Libraries
In the case of the University of Nevada, there was deliberate opportunism on the part of the director, Tod Colegrove, to create the library’s makerspace. As space was not initially available, a user assessment was conducted, after which low use items were taken out of the library, to be stored in a storage facility. This opened up 18,000 square feet of room. Additionally, the library was able to secure furniture from another library that had recently closed, meaning that additional costs were not needed. The walls were covered with idea paint (chalkboard paint) so that white boards did not have to be purchased. In order to secure tools such as a 3D printer, the director pointed out costs of certain periodical subscriptions. The equipment was placed in a highly visible location to promote and increase use. As a result, the number of students using the space has increased ten fold, and is expected to max out.
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