By now, you’ve likely heard some variation of the term ‘makerspace.’ But what is a makerspace? A simple googling reveals that “Makerspaces, sometimes also referred to as hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs are creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. In libraries they often have 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and tools, and more.”
But still, what is it? Perhaps the only sure answer is that makerspaces tend to be unique. While one makerspace might include loud, messy machinery, another might offer digital media conversion, workshops in various arts and crafts, or access to a sewing machine. Yet another might provide 3D printing alongside plant propagation or a class on making hummus. Still another may specialize in electronics and robotics. The opportunities are seemingly endless. One might say a makerspace is any place that encourages creativity and makes accessible the materials needed to explore and bring ideas to fruition, whether it be by way of 3D printing, robotics, a wood-burning kit, an art class, knitting needles, or so on.
The thing about libraries and librarians is that we’re in the business of making the inaccessible accessible. Thus it makes sense that all sorts of makerspaces are gaining popularity and popping up in libraries—public, school, and otherwise—all over the world. In Spring 2017, Joplin Public Library will become an addition to the list of libraries with makerspaces. I’m happy to say that Post Art Library has the opportunity to help make and manage the space.
Months ago, the Joplin Public and Post Art Libraries co-hosted a public makerspace focus group. The group generated great ideas and gave valuable input. Although we’ve yet to determine all of the particulars, we’ve a general idea of what our space will entail. Digital media conversion, 3D printing, a creative suite, and other technology will be among the offerings. We’ll also offer options that are not steeped in technology similar to those that we’ve traditionally offered, such as making hand-rolled beads, paper quilling, or collage.
Yet our projected move date to the new facility that will have the makerspace isn’t until next Spring. For the time being, I’m making lists and asking questions:
What would you like to learn how to do? Write? Paint? Propagate plants? Something else? Are you interested in recording oral histories? Storytelling? Would you like to have access to arts & crafts hand tools? Which types of DIY things would you like to learn how to do? What are you interested in exploring?
I ask, as it’s your space. And I’d like to keep the conversation going. For more information or to further the discussion, give me (Jill) a ring at Post Art Library: 417.782.7678. And remember–the fun is in the making!
I might add that if you simply can’t wait to spring into the making or would like to see a makerspace in action, then be sure to check out Joplin Makers. (Whereas they emphasize robotics, electronics, wood, metal, and plastic, the library’s space will not have as much of an industrial or technological focus.)