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LET'S MAKE GUIDE

This guide is the result of a collaboration among a group of individuals who were grantees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries initiative. We came together as a voluntary project group to share our research, insights and experiences from Chile, Poland, Ukraine and other countries about the value of making in public libraries. We have compiled this short guide to share our learnings about: the case to support making in libraries; different services libraries can provide to encourage making; lists of equipment, software and other tools you can use to create physical or digital content; tips and ideas on how to implement maker activities; as well as links to other maker spaces, resources, and much more. We hope this guide will encourage you start your own exploration of making in libraries, and help you along the way. If you have your own ideas or experiences to add, please share them in the comments on the bottom of some of the pages in this guide. Good luck, and Happy Making!

WHY MAKING IN LIBRARIES?

OVERVIEW

Before the digital revolution, the primary role of the library was to store accumulated knowledge of the past, which had been preserved in sources and formats available at that time. By doing so - and by providing access to collections, catalogs or data bases along with the assistance of skilled professionals - libraries have always supported learning, the sharing of information, and the building of knowledge. They have also played a major role in supporting literacy skills, ranging from basics like reading and writing, to more complex competencies like using tools to search for, analyze, and assess information.

Public libraries have offered - and continue to offer - all of these services to the general public, allowing them to bridge social and literacy gaps, defend democratic values, and combat inequalities. As a result, libraries empower individuals and whole communities. Libraries have evolved over time (implementing new services, new information formats, and new educational activities), but - even in today's digital world - their mission and values are the same: providing resources, access and assistance to help people learn and understand the world. The big change is that - in the digital world - people learn, are trained, share knowledge, create, and use information in a new variety of ways. And technology plays a crucial role in this 21st century learning and in the 21st century economy.

LIBRARIES - A PERFECT 21TH CENTURY MAKER SPACE
WHERE LIBRARIES AND MAKERS MEET

New skills and new literacy are needed in a world where information is available in numerous formats accessible via digital media, services, and tools. Systems of formal education do not necessarily support this kind of literacy, because large systems are historically slower to adapt to big changes. Yet, digital skills are essential today - not only on the job market - but in almost every aspect of life. Increasingly, more advanced technological competences such as coding, mobile or web design, and practical STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) skills will be needed to be successful in the new economy. These competencies and skills can be acquired in the library!

And this is where libraries and makers cross paths. Makers (or anyone collaboratively creating physical or digital content) represent a culture of learning through creation. Their values, like libraries’ values, include open access to knowledge, skills, and data sharing. Makers can benefit from the physical space, facilities, and resources that libraries provide. And libraries need partners to help them develop new, relevant services to meet the evolving needs of their communities. Libraries can also benefit from the willingness of makers to share their knowledge, skills and ideas to help others.

For many people, libraries have lost some of their appeal as places to look for information or engage with culture. Competition is high, and books - which are still perceived as a core ‘product’ of libraries - are cheaply and easily found elsewhere (in both analogue and digital formats). But collaborative, ‘connected’ learning - engaging people in creative activities and combining these with access to a library’s resources and facilities - may be a niche public libraries can successfully fill. Particularly those that are already playing the role of a ‘third place’ – a neutral and attractive venue used for meetings, leisure-time activities, cultural programs and informal, life-long education.

Making and creation culture means learning by doing, through trial-and-error, exploration, problem-solving, and practical application. It involves collaboration, information-sharing, and spontaneity. It also means Do-It-Together instead of Do-It-Yourself, and knowledge production instead of only knowledge consumption. By embracing maker culture and incorporating it into their services and programs, libraries may easily facilitate learning in a dynamic and digital world. These kinds of educational activities may appeal strongly to young people since there is no pressure and competition involved (or at least, there does not have to be). It is perfectly ok to err and fail in maker culture, and it means making - even when one is learning - can be a lot of fun! There is great alignment between the maker/creation culture and the the core mission of the library, meaning that opportunities - both for libraries and for makers - are endless.

LET'S MAKE TOGETHER IN LIBRARIES
HOW ‘MAKING’ IN LIBRARIES CAN SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES

Public libraries support individuals and whole communities by making their resources available to everyone, regardless of status or income, and by offering a wide range of educational, cultural or social services. Those that incorporate maker spaces and related programs contribute to local development in a number of additional ways. They are able to reach out, support, and engage new audiences, including individuals who have not been compelled by traditional library services. These newly-attracted audiences may include: local businesses (both entrepreneurs and companies), self-publishing authors (or young authors-to-be), artists (filmmakers, musicians, photographers), or people interested in or involved in STEM activities or studies.

Libraries that embrace maker activities and programs may better serve individuals by offering new services or opportunities that other institutions do not, thus filling a gap in local services. Check out the following examples and best practices to find out how libraries that embrace the maker movement are supporting individuals and whole communities:

PROVIDING ACCESS TO (AND PROMOTING USAGE OF) NEW TECHNOLOGIES

OFFERING SPECIFIC SERVICES OR OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL BUSINESS

HELPING PEOPLE DEVELOP 21ST CENTURY SKILLS AND ENHANCE THEIR CHANCES ON THE JOB MARKET

UTILIZING AND MULTIPLYING COMMUNITY’S OWN RESOURCES

SUPPORTING YOUNG PEOPLE WITH CAREER PLANNING AND FURTHER EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES, PROVIDING WORK EXPERIENCE

BOOSTING INTEREST IN STEM AREAS AMONG CHILDREN

SUPPORTING RESILIENCE AND SELF-RELIANCE IN THE COMMUNITY

SUPPORTING DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUBLISHING MARKET

DEVELOPING AND SUPPORTING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS

HEALTH- AND DISABILITY-RELATED ACTIVITIES, MEDICAL APPLICATIONS OF LIBRARY MAKER RESOURCES

There are few models that libraries can use when implementing maker activities. Each model requires different space and equipment. Choosing the "right" model depends on the community’s needs and interests, as well as on the resources the library has at its disposal. Some models of operation adopted by libraries include:

  • Hosting a dedicated makerspace (for tech or non-tech maker activities)
  • Creating/hosting a "Fablab", or Fabrication Lab (focused only tech activities)
  • Having a "pop-up" makerspace (a temporary space for maker activities) which could share space with other temporary activities or rotate among branches
  • Setting up a digital media lab (an equipped computer lab to be used for digital creation of things like music or movies or other digital media)
  • Hosting on-and-off maker activities (occasional meetings, programs, or workshops conducted in the library, but not necessarily with a dedicated maker space in place)
  • The whole library as a "maker space" of sorts (i.e. highly participatory, user co-created library services)

The two most common models are below, although often libraries offer a mixture of both:

  • Maker space (for making/creating physical objects)
  • Digital media lab (for making digital content like movies or music).

It's important to note that not all maker or creation activities involve technology. Maker/creation activities could include:

  • Tech-related activities, such as 3D printing, digital content creation, robot building, or coding
  • Non-tech or less-tech related activities such as sewing, crafting, knitting, book-making, etc.

People who are already makers can do well on their own in a library maker space, but for many others, it is critical to provide services, programming and a sense of community to make the most of the maker space. Examples include:

  • Regular group classes about how to use the space or to make/create something together (ex: 3D printed mobile phone holder, robots, books)
  • 1-to-1 coaching between library staff/volunteers and interested users
  • Volunteer lectures (by experienced makers)
  • Online learning resources such as webinars or tours of the space
  • Quick start guides (print or digital)
  • Demonstrations of the latest technology tools in the space
MODELS OF OPERATION
What to be aware of?

Every library should compile rules and guidelines for the general use of their makerspace or a media lab by its users, and/or for the use of specific tools (for example: 3-D printers, digital cameras, musical instruments, sewing machines). The public should be warned of any danger, assume responsibility for their actions and use of the tool(s), and be advised on how to behave in the makerspace (in addition to receiving adequate and proper training to help them safely and properly use the tools). Example of rules and guidelines from the Allen County Public Library (Indiana, USA) Maker Labs are included below as an example:

  • Children under the age of 12 must have a parent or legal guardian with them
  • No open toed shoes please! Some of the materials and equipment we work with could hurt your toes if they were exposed; we like you to have as many digits when you leave as when you came in.
  • No loose-fitting or dangling pieces of clothing. We don’t want your favorite shirt getting caught in machinery.
  • Tie back long hair. We wouldn't want your hair getting caught in machinery any more than your favorite shirt.

Learn more about the Allen County Public Library Makerspace.

Some makerspace activities may be dirty and cause damage to the library furniture or the interior. It may also smell bad and create fumes, so proper ventilation may be needed there. If you are planning a makerspace - especially if it may contain tools that produce noise, fumes, heat, or dust - consider its placement carefully so it will not have adverse effects on library visitors who do not use the makerspace.

See also:

3D printers shown to emit potentially harmful nanosized particles

Between November 2012 and June 2014, the Bibliomist program in Ukraine (a Global Libraries grantee) implemented a pilot project about making/creating. The ‘Creation Spaces Project’  (CSP) piloted new library services in Ukrainian libraries, inspired by the Maker Space model. Five public libraries participated in the pilot from around the country. Those five libraries received specialized equipment, training, and guidance in setting up their creation spaces. Participant libraries were required to provide the infrastructure to ensure the success of the project.

Read more about Ukraine's project, what defined a "creation space", and what they learned.

CASE STUDY: CREATION SPACES PROJECT – UKRAINE
FIND LIBRARY MAKERSPACES AND MEDIA LABS

Want more inspiration? Find some library makerspaces and/or media labs online and look through their web sites. Better yet, see if there is one close to you that you can visit in-person! Online or in-person, you can search for ideas, activities, best practices, organization models, and inspiration!

To help you get started, we have compiled a list of makerspaces and digitial media labs, but keep in mind that new spaces are being added all the time. Know of a space missing from our list? Let us know!

See the running list of makerspaces and digital media labs.

In our research and site visits, a theme that came up again and again around "making" was the importance of building a community and a culture around the makerspace - the idea that a makerspace alone may not be a wild success. It is critical to consider the activities and services your library can offer or organize to promote and support your makerspace and build its community of users and fans. This kind of approach will help bring people to the space, help keep bringing them back to the space, and create a community of users who believe in the space and can support one another.

Looking for ideas on activities in a library makerspace or a digital media lab? Ways to support learning and help residents to better use the equipment, software and resources?

Check out some of these ideas for activities and services.

 

IDEAS FOR ACTIVITIES AND SERVICES
FINDING PARTNERS FOR YOUR MAKERSPACE

Libraries that successfully implement maker activities have often developed partnerships within their communities and beyond. They partner with local institutions, organizations, informal/volunteer groups, or individuals to help ensure the vibrancy, dynamism, and sustainability of their makerspace and maker community.

Who may be a good partner to help a library run a makerspace or a digital media lab? Consider:

  • Local maker groups or other makerspaces (perhaps at Universities, for profit spaces, etc.) - to get advice, practical experience, or possible volunteers to teach or guide others.
  • Local IT companies - to get equipment and possible IT experts/volunteers.
  • Science teachers - for expertise, possible volunteers, or a chance to advertise the new library service.
  • University students studying STEM topics - if you have a local university, consider talking with their STEM departments to see if there are IT clubs, robotics clubs, science clubs, or internship programs that could provide interested users or volunteers.
  • STEM hobbyists or clubs - may need a place to meet or access to special equipment.
  • Teen Advisory Group (or just any active groups of teens who regularly come to the library) - to help you stay in touch with ideas, needs and expectations of young people, who are a big potential user group for your makerspace.

There are also libraries who have partnered with businesses to support maker activities. Consider your local tech businesses or others who may feel alignment with your goal of educational development of individuals in your community. They could be great potential supporters and/or sponsors of your space.

See more: ALSC and LEGO Systems partner to create Junior Maker Spaces

 

When planning a library makerspace or a media lab, seek advice, ask questions, and learn best practices from existing makerspaces and media labs. Visit them and talk to the people who run them - they will be glad to share their experiences! Participate in online communities such as Facebook or LinkedIn groups - a lot of practical knowledge can be gained in these communities of passionate and curious practitioners.

Here are a few more tips we've gathered from the library making community:

  • Start small and be flexible. The community should have an interest in makerspace activities, so find out what interests them most. Ask your users!
  • Take another look at your existing services  such as technology training classes, craft workshops, or hobby groups - you may realize that you already have some "maker-like" activities or a makerspace or media lab-in-development. You can build on those!
  • Be careful with words like 'maker' or 'hacker' when advertising a new service; people may not recognize them. Focus on what they can create or do in the space or class.
  • It is good to keep the equipment portable and mobile so equipment and materials can be moved into different locations as needed - wheeled desks or carts may be a good idea.
  • Use 'tech week', 'code week', 'get online week', or other public campaigns or events to advertise what you do in your makerspace or media lab and hold special events.

See a bunch of good advice from Chicago Public Library's Maker Lab

Read about Five Things to Remember when Opening a Makerspace

ADDITIONAL TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND

Equipment and Software

What can we make and what can we use to make in the library?

Equipment to Consider for Your Space

What kind of equipment will you need to plan maker activities in your library? What software could you use in a digital media lab? What online tools - low cost or free-of-charge - should you be aware of to help users design, create, and make? In our lists below, we share our suggestions to help you answer all of these questions based on the types of activities and services you want to offer.

 

Of course, there are myriad tools, types of equipment, and software programs or apps available - so it's important to pay attention to several factors when determining the right mix of tools for your space: your budget, your physical space constraints (including available furnishings, electricity, ventilation, noise, and more), the interests of your community,  the goals of your space, your ability to support certain tools from a technical, cost, and sustainability perspective (i.e. can you keep the equipment running long-term?).

 

When planning for equipment, you may consider the following items:

  • Computers - desktop PCs or laptops
  • Tablets
  • Digital cameras, camcorders
  • Photo/slide/negative scanners
  • Printers
  • Video recorders, VHS to DVD converters
  • Tape recorders, cassette players, analog-to-digital converters
  • Digital turntables
  • 3D printers
  • Laser cutters
  • Milling machines
  • Vinyl cutters
  • Laser Engravers
  • Sewing machines
  • Robots or sets to build robots
  • Microcontrollers
  • Many, many more...

 

For specific types, models or configurations, check out what existing makerspaces in libraries have, and contact them to ask them about their experience. Many list their equipment right on their web sites. For example:

 

Peripherals, Accessories & Consumable Supplies

For your makerspace or a media lab you will need accessories, peripheral (related) equipment, and - for some equipment - "consumable" supplies. (in other words, the items that the equipment needs in order to run or produce materials).

 

Consider the need for consumable supplies carefully when considering what equipment you will get, because - like printer or copier toner - they often end up being the greatest cost in your budget over time. If you can't afford to supply the consumable supplies long term, that piece of equipment may not be the right choice for your library!

 

Depending on the equipment, you may have to plan and budget for the following:

  • Portable hard drives
  • Cables / adapters
  • Firewire 9-pin to 9-pin cable
  • Firewire 9-pin to 6-pin cable
  • Firewire 9-pin to 4-pin cable
  • Micro-USB to USB cable
  • Mini-USB to USB cable
  • RCA Audio-Video Cable
  • iPad/iPhone/iPod dock to USB cable
  • Carrying or storage cases with locks, and/or cable locks for equipment
  • 3D printing filament (the "toner" of 3D printers)
  • Sewing kits - thread, fabric, needles, other materials
  • Storage tools (DVD disks, external drives, flash drives)

Let's make pictures

Here you will find a short list of tools for creating or editing pictures, photos and graphics (both raster and vector). Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

Consider this list a good starting place for free & low cost solutions:

Gimp
Photoscape
Inscape
Draw Plus
NodeBox
IrfanView
XnView
Autodesk PIXLR Editor
Artweaver

 

If you like to have more fun with your pictures or add style to them, try these:

Be Funky
PicLits
Autodesk PIXLR
Autodesk PIXLR-O-MATIC
Microsoft Research Cliplets
PlaceIT
piZap
PicMonkey

FotoJet - try this to make a collage

 

Commercial products to consider include:
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Elements, Adobe Fireworks, SketchBook Express (Apple environment), iPhoto (Apple environment), Pixelmator (Apple environment)

 

Looking for free-of-charge, Creative Commons or public domain pictures and photos? Try these sites:

Flickr  (search by Creative Commons license)
Wikimedia Commons
Ookaboo
Pexels
Gratisography
Pixabay
NounProject
Softicons
PublicDomainPictures.net
Death to the Stock Photo
Stocksnap
Unsplush
Pexels
Negative Space
ISO Republic
Picjumbo
New Old Stock
Pond5

 

Let’s make movies!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change. Consider this list a good starting place for your own research.

 

Windows Movie Maker is a free tool from Microsoft that allows you to easily edit movies, add sound, captions, still photos, and more. It could be a good addition to your digital media lab!

 

You may also be interested in purchasing commercial professional products like Sony VegasFinal Cut Pro (Apple environment), Adobe Premiere, Lightworks or HitFilm.

 

Some other free or low-cost, easy to use or web-based solutions include:

YouTube Video Editor
VideoPad Video Editor
Avidemux
Jahshaja
iMovie (Apple environment)
Mozilla Popcorn Maker
FileLab Web Applications
WeVideo
EzVid
Magisto
Magisto (Apple environment)
Popcorn Maker
Wideo

 

Want to apply special effects to your videos and transform them into amazing movies? Try:

Autodesk® FX Apps  (Apple Environment)
Clickberry online editor (adds interactive features to YouTuve videos)

 

Let’s make animations!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change. Consider this list a starting place for your own research.

 

For making animated movies you may want to try a professional and commercial product like Adobe After Effects, buy if you want free or low-cost solutions, try some of these:

Synfig
Smoovie - The Stop Motion Animation App (Apple environment)
Toontastic
Jahshaka
PowToon

 

 

To make animated gifs, you may use these free online gif creators:

Picasion.com
Makeagif 

 

Let's make music!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

Want to make music, record your own songs, edit audio files, and/or create or mix sounds? There are plenty of commercial products for professional or amateur composers. For example: SoundForgeProTools,
ReasonAbleton Live or Cubase.

 

But you may also try free or rather cheap software; some of it is very powerful:

Audacity
Garage Band (Apple environment)
PowerSound
Music Editor Free
Wawosaur
TwistedWave
MainStage (Apple environment)

 

And if you need free music or sound effects for your other projects, try:
FreeSound
SoundBible.com

 

Let's make stories!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

There are many ways to tell a story. A blog, a website, a movie, a photo album, or a song - they all may be used as storytelling tools. But, if you wish to make - let's say, an ebook - you may use free and low cost resources such as:

eBook Author Apple environment
Scribus
Vook 

 

There are also specially designed digital storytelling online tools such as:

ZimmerTwins
StoryBird
StoryJumper

Let’ make video slideshows and photocasts!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

Wish to tell  stories with photographs transformed into videos, multimedia shows, slideshows or photocasts? Try these free or low-cost, web-based tools:

Animoto
PhotoFilmStrip
GoAnimate
Stupeflix
ProShow
Zeodia
Clipgenerator
Slide.ly

 

Let's make screencast and presentations!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

You may use online tools to record screencasts for free, such as:
Screencast-O-Matic
Jing
Doceri Apple environment

 

You may also use commercial tools:
ScreenFlow Apple environment
SlideBean

For creating online presentations for free, try:
Prezi
Haiku Deck
In3DGallery
Slidely
Emaze
Buncee

 

 

Let's make leaflets, posters, banners and other promotional materials!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

Want a poster or a lealfet for advertising your new enterprise? Try these web-based free tools:

Smore
Piktochart
Canva
Postermywall
Card Creator 1.0
Image Grid 1.1
ImageChef
Infogr.am
PixTeller

 

Would you like to create a logo for free? Try:

OnlineLogoMaker

 

For diagrams and infographics, you may try:

Creately
Venngage

 

 

Let's make cartoons and comics!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

If you like to make comic books, cartoons, or mangas, you may use commercial dedicated software such as Manga Studio, but there are also some free or low cost tools, including:

Comic Life
ToonDoo
Pixton
ToonyTool
Bitstrips
Bitmoji
Make Beliefs Comix

Let's make 3D models!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

If you decide to have a 3D printer in your makerspace, you will also need software that helps users design and plan their 3D models.

 

Free or low cost software and online tools used for 3D modeling include:

Autodesk 123D Catch
Blender
K-3D
Art. Of Illusion
Google Sketch-up
Sculptris
Unicorn3D
Meshmixer
Tinkercad
3DTin
IdeaMaker
Cloud Slicer

 

 

Let's code and make programs!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

The following tools and resources may be used to both teach coding skills and allow your users to write their own code to create simple games or animations:

Kodu by Microsoft
Scratch by MIT
Snap!
Light-Bot (Tetris-like game for the beginners to understand the programming way of thinking)
CoderDojo - The open source, volunteer led, global movement of free coding clubs for young people
Unity3D (commercial software)
Gamemakers Studio (commercial software)
Processing - a flexible software sketchbook and a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts

 

 

For making mobile apps you may try:

App Inventor by MIT
Android SDK
Apple Xcode
TouchDevelop
Microsoft Small Basic

 

 

Let's make fun!

Keep in mind that different software and apps come and go in today's rapidly evolving digital marketplace, so the tools or providers on the list below could change.

 

You will  have a lot of fun when making and creating, but did you know there are apps that let you have fun while at the same time developing your creativity? Try:

Singing Fingers
Makey Makey - an Invention Kit for Everyone

 

For adding word clouds to your publications, websites, or presentations, try these online tools:
Wordle
Tagxedo

 

RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE

There are some excellent websites, online resources, and other guides to help you learn more about setting up a makerspace or maker activities in your library. Here are just a few of them; please leave a comment if there are other sites you have found valuable!

 

More Guides or Toolkits about Makerspaces in Libraries:

 

Resources for project ideas for makerspaces or DIY at the library:

  • Make it @ your library - a major supply of vetted project ideas for create or maker spaces of all types! Sort by time needed, materials needed, cost, age level, and more!
  • Thingiverse - brought to you by MakerBot, this site is an online community for people to share their designs, get ideas, and show off their finished 3D printer projects.
  • Pinterest Digital Media Lab Board has lots of creative ideas for libraries too
  • Maker Cookbook: Ideas for Makerspace Projects - a google doc collection of various projects to try, or you can add your own project ideas.

 

Other articles or resources you may want to check out:

Research studies and reports:

 

You may also view some archived webinars: 

 

A few presentations worth checking out include these:

CONTACT

If you have any questions about this website, please contact Agnieszka Koszowska: agnieszka.koszowska@frsi.org.pl