March 2013, Volume 5, Issue 3
Check Your Calendars!!
Read Across America Day
World Read Aloud Day
Teen Tech Week
PLA Virtual Spring Symposium
School Library Month
National Library Week
World Book Night
Featured e-Resources of the Month
Is there an app for that?
"Maker Spaces? Programming on Steroids?"
By Daria Bossman, State Librarian
In recent years, there has been some buzz about a new type (and style) of programming in the library. Trying to encourage all our libraries to promote traditional programming for their clientele, I have mostly ignored all the buzz. I just assumed it was for the wild and big libraries on the east and west coasts with lots of extra space, extra funds for 3-D printers and fancy equipment, who could experiment with "maker spaces."
Recently, however, I attended ALA's Mid-winter Conference in Seattle. One afternoon I happened into a gigantic room crammed full of librarians listening to three guys talk excitedly about their "Maker-Space" programming adventures in their public libraries. Still somewhat cautious, I took a seat along the far back wall. What I heard began to perk my interest. Always looking for new ideas to bring back to South Dakota and thinking how we can mold these ideas to our lifestyle and interests, I started to listen to what they were saying. It seemed to me they were talking about some familiar themes we have been focusing on for the past several years – themes like life-long learning, community involvement, individual group's interests, collaboration, hands-on activities, etc. I got to thinking – we involve hands-on activities with preschoolers; why is it such a prohibition for adults? Don't adults also learn via hands-on? Don't adults like interaction, making things, group work? Was not "maker spaces" just library programming expanded and potentially on steroids?
Boards! Listen to me! We have to STOP being a building — a box full of books. We are a community center. Our local library exists to not be the place where we hoard and preserve all those books, but rather a gathering place, a safe, comfortable community space for our citizens to explore and learn. So what are "maker spaces"? In some large cities it might be an electrical soldering class, a robot-building group, an on-going wood-carving or leather-making project. Those can be messy, and yes, one does need dedicated space for such endeavors. However, isn't an ongoing puzzle a small "maker spaces" project? We just didn't know it now has a new, fancy name. We have several libraries in this state that always have 3-D or one dimensional puzzles going on in their library. Kids 8 to 80 are free to stop in and try their hand at putting that puzzle picture together. And when it is done, a sense of community accomplishment has been realized.
Life-long learning is one of the hallmarks of our public library system; it always has been. We are neglecting our mission and misappropriating our funding if we do not provide ongoing programming of all sorts for all age groups in our community. Hands-on, ongoing projects within the public library are a great way to bring new folks in and to forge a bond between one another. It bridges the generations, creates a sense of community and fortifies a strong appreciation for one's local library. Let me encourage you to be much more than a large, heated "box of books." Maker spaces and other more traditional forms of programming (speakers, presentations, storytellers, artists) bring communities together. And remember, all programming is wonderful public relations for your library when you need that community support as well!
If you would like ideas on community programming, may I encourage you to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, The Cornerstone. Also, we have some very creative librarians within the state with great ideas, and don't forget to collaborate with your local school district. We try to highlight these creative projects and programming ideas in our newsletter. And if you are trying some "maker-space" programming, take a photo and let us know!
Lastly, just as a reminder, our State Library consultants can visit with your librarian, staff or board about ideas which could potentially reach children, youth, adults or seniors. We have trainings and programs we can bring to you as well. Just give us a call at 1-800-423-6665.
The South Dakota State Library—Connecting South Dakota to the World; Creating 21st Century Library Leaders for South Dakota!