Makerspaces and creative labs have emerged in the past few years as beneficial assets in public libraries. Some believe that creative labs and makerspaces will evolve as “the library of the future.” They have helped patrons of all ages and all walks of life. As Sarah H. Scott mentioned in her article, Making the Case for a Library Makerspace: “A makerspace is a tool that can advance the fulfillment of the public library’s mission, especially when paired with an effective program of instruction.” (Article located on the Adults Can Dream tab.)
One of the earliest makerspaces was created in the Fayetteville Free Library in New York in 2011. It started with a female grad student, Lauren Smedley, in Syracuse University, suggesting a 3D printer be added to the library. The Library Director loved the idea, and one of the first (if not THE first) makerspaces was born. Thank you, Lauren; you started a fantastic movement! (Article located on the Adults Can Dream tab.)
For children, young adults, middle- and mature-adults, as well as the disabled and immigrant populations, the public library has been a fantastic free resource to help them learn new skills, foster and continue education, and broaden their horizons. Using various resources and services like 3D printers and scanners, digital sewing machines, recording studios, woodworking and soldering shops, design studios and other labs, public library patrons have been able to create wonderful items that they can be proud of and share with their friends and family. It also encourages them to tell others about what services and resources public libraries have to offer, and keeps them coming back for more.
How can Makerspaces help patrons and others?
Classes and mentoring also encourage patrons who would have never considered coming to the library to stop in and see what the makerspaces and labs can do to teach them different things. Many patrons who were hesitant before now sing the public library’s praises for offering these gems of education. Now, if more public libraries can add a lab or two in their branch, even more patrons will be encouraged to participate in the makerspaces, hackerspaces, and creative labs, and tell others about them.
There are some great reasons for public libraries to add these labs in their branches. One reason, besides encouraging more patrons to support the library, is for those patrons to possibly start new businesses, which has the potential to bring revenue to their city/town, depending on the type of product the patron creates. At least the patron could earn some “revenue” of their own, if they so choose. Another reason for adding a creative lab in a library is the potential for technological advancement; libraries are always searching for additional funding from their local governments and the federal government. Having the ability to bring a makerspace to the public library in their town could possibly revitalize a town, create entrepreneurs, encourage the local government to search for potential investors that would bring more business to their town, etc. There are plenty of solid reasons a public library should have a creative lab in their branch.
In this LibGuide, you will find several different types of labs, studios, and makerspaces in North Carolina, and how they have helped many types of library patrons grow and learn, and even begin the process of starting a business and improving their lives. If there is a makerspace or creative lab in your public library, I encourage you to go and try it out; you never know what you may learn, and you will have fun in the process!