I’m choosing to focus on the hyperlinked academic library, but specifically, the law library and it’s changing landscapes. Much of the literature we have been reading pertains to changing the space of the library as the materials users are needing and wanting also evolves. In law specifically, the print materials quickly become out of date at the law changes, literally every day. Due to this, digital resources are often the surest and quickest way to get the most accurate answer to a query about a specific legal matter. This trend is not specific to law libraries, but it does mean that a majority of our collection is unnecessary for a good portion of our users. As Keith Webster writes, “We need to rethink our business model for the digital age and redesign our model of interaction with the research community” (Webster, 2017). I think this also means we need to rethink the physical space and how we use it in our libraries.

One idea that has caught my eye throughout my research about changing physical spaces is the idea of makerspaces. One review of the possibilities of makerspaces explains, “a makerspace is an area where people can come together to create things, experiment and learn together” (Jones, 2013). In this model, the library allows for space for patrons to collaborate as well as utilize the library in the traditionally solitary and quiet way. By allowing for more spaces in which our law students can study together, respectively and calmly debate, and bounce idea off of each other, a makerspace encourages learning in which you are not alone. In reality, when our law students graduate and many go on to be lawyers, it rarely is a solitary work environment. Collaboration is outrageously common given the many practice areas of law and the inter-connectedness of such specialties. For instance, if a lawyer is practicing family law, they will likely encounter tax law as well as estate law.

An idea I’ve had for our library is to withdraw and discard many of the out of date and unused materials that we are currently paying for to be kept untouched and air conditioned. By doing this, the shelves that line the library wall to wall can be eliminated making space for more collaboration spaces with soft seating, conference tables, charging stations and the like. I enjoy Antony Groves ideas about a pop-up makerspace that does not have to be permanent. By providing a space where new technologies can be discovered, explained, and tested, our students will not only be drawn back into the library, but our graduates may have the upper hand when it comes to knowing about emerging technologies. Having a space for a reference librarian to explain a new database or tool connects students with the librarians, brings them back physically, and helps them to stay up to date on top technologies and researching tools. This could also be a space where students learn new formulas for drafting different documents or learn new procedures. By keeping the space available for collaboration and learning, where students can make something together and with help, the makerspace allows for successes and failures to occur without grading consequences. This experimental space could help students gain confidence in their work and abilities as well. As change and adaptability continue to be the focus of the library, while the the user is always first and foremost priority, makerspaces help law students and in turn will help the school.


Antony Groves: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/02/23/the-journey-of-a-pop-up-library-makerspace/

Keith Webster: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/02/15/reimagining-the-role-of-the-library-in-the-digital-age-changing-the-use-of-space-and-navigating-the-information-landscape/?platform=hootsuite

Darren Jones: https://informationspaces.wordpress.com/tag/makerspace/


4 comments on “Making room for makerspaces”

  1. I am working with our local law library to find grant money to put towards creating a new space that will feature some of the things you outlined in your blog. We are trying to create a space that will allow the lawyers to explore with technology and information in a meaningful way. Currently the space is small, old, and very crowded with overstuffed library furniture. We are hoping to clear away some of the clutter including outdated law books to make room for more collaboration and technology. I think all libraries are going through this transition and emerging themselves into library 2.0.

    • It’s nice to meet someone else working with law libraries! I agree that most libraries are going through this process. Glad to know we can bounce ideas off of each other throughout the experience and learn from each other.

  2. I am just a newbie and temporary, I am working with the law librarian to help with her new space. I would love to learn more about law libraries, it’s why I was eager to work with her on this project. I’m sure I will learn a lot about law libraries from reading about your experiences 🙂

  3. I spoke to a group of law librarians a couple of years ago in southwest state. I probably learned more from them than they did from me. They had asked me to go over m,akerspaces etc and it lead to an interesting conversation about the nature of service in the public law library. Can they be all things? Is there a line that should be drawn d for providing access to tech? Thanks for this illuminating post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *