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Zero To Maker

Zero to Maker Speakers

(L-R) Colleen Dearborn, Sussan Navabi, Erin Walker, Dominique China

This session addressed two projects in which makerspaces were created. Dominiique China and Erin Walker began by describing Makerspace Brampton in Brampton, Ontario, which launched in November 2014. The project now extends over all of the Brampton library’s 6 branches. They noted that invention literacy is the ability to read and write human-made stuff: understanding how something is made, how it works, and then applying that knowledge to bring one’s own ideas to life. Inventions are simply the human-made part of the world that we live in (see the article by Jay Silver, “Invention Literacy”, Medium.com, May 2016). They are not magic; if something can be created, we can improve it.

Makerspace Brampton is empowering people in three ways: zero to maker, maker to maker, and maker to market.

  • Zero to Maker targets children and families and novice makers of all ages. It is designed to foster invention and innovation through hands-on and play-to-learn activities that demystify fundamental concepts.
  • Maker to Maker (learn and collaborate) are more advanced programs that target teens and adults and promote collaboration and access to expertise and advanced application of skills.
  • Maker to Market (entrepreneurial imagination and commercialization) targets teens and adults, demystifies entrepreneurship, and encourages networking and mentorship. It is presented by the Brampton Economic Office and teaches practical skills for turning an idea into a viable startup, such as business basics and idea generation.

The next steps for the program are to formalize the partnership and expand program offerings. An additional 32 physical makerspaces are in development. Plans are also underway to continue to build the community of makers and supplement programming with a self-service model. Makerspace Brampton has been well received; over 8,000 people visited the makerspace in 2016.

Colleen Dearborn and Sussan Navabi have created a mobile memory lab at the Alsip-Marionette Park Library (near Chicago). The Alsip library director suggested creating a mobile makerspace, so Dearborn did a survey of what other libraries were doing. She drew on case studies mentioned in last year’s CIL talk (click here for the presentations from that conference) that Jamie Mears at the DC Public Library and I gave. Mears created a memory lab at her library, and Danielle Conklin wrote a chapter in Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage (Donald T. Hawkins, Information Today, 2013), in which she described relevant several case studies. (The Library of Congress maintains an excellent website with lots of helpful information on digital preservation).  Based on her research, some recommended hardware was purchased for the makerspace.

Recommended Hardware

Sussan Navabi was hired to set up the lab. Her advice is to set aside ample time for development; test a variety of materials, and include the library staff in the project to generate interest. For example, Navabi asked staff members to lend her their analog materials to test on the equipment, which generated interest and buy-in.

Some issues and problems that arose:

  • The hardware might work but the software bundled with it is not compatible with the devices your patrons will be using. Don’t try to patch the software–just return it and get something else.
  • Even if everything does work, patrons might want other features, so look for free apps and test them (be sure to check the rating). Navabi’s list of suggested software is here on the conference website.
  • Be sure you have adequate space for the makerspace and space for training the staff.
  • Visit other libraries to see what they are doing. Here are some questions to ask them:
    • Where to put the lab? Who staffs it? How to do training? When will it be available? Who will be accountable?
  • Instructions that typically come in the manuals for the equipment tend to be complicated and too long. So they created their own instruction pages. Be succinct, include as many screenshots as possible, and use bold keywords.

Experiment with all equipment, make the necessary adjustments to accommodate all skill levels, promote skill building.

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