My interest was piqued by all of the different things libraries were doing to redefine what a library is and does. The Anythink Library in Colorado is working to perpetually redefine the public library, the Camden County Library System is promoting a new type of literacy, food literacy, through the services it offers, the New York Public Library is reimagining classic novels through the Insta Novels on its Instagram account and the Maarifa Centres, or Knowledge Centres, in Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana that are hubs for the allocation and distribution of information in areas traditionally lacking in resources. The article that most intrigued me was about the NYPL and its plan to remove physical stacks from the library and open up space for services and people.
This transformation of traditional storage space inspired me to turn a portion of the youth services area at the Monrovia Public Library into a makerspace. The library already has a couple of components that can contribute to the makerspace and we will be adding more to round out the space. The MPL has three 3D printers, Legos, some robotics kits, different hands on circuit learning sets, art supplies and a couple of sewing machines. In addition to these components, I would like to add some space for the laptop computers and tools we already have to round out the space.
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
Must be free for the public to take part in
Clear out some of the stacks in the youth services area to open up the space
Create an open, welcoming space for people of all ages to explore, experiment, share, create, etc.
Install more storage, movable furnishings, professional equipment in the new makerspace area
Increase the usage of the technology/equipment in the makerspace from intermittent to consistent
Partner with various community stakeholders to invest in the future of the people in the community by donating to the makerspace
Encourage interest in STEAM in the community, especially in school-age children and adult learners
Stimulate overall community interest in all library programs, services and space
Description of Community you wish to engage:
I wish to engage the youth of Monrovia to take up and interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math to better prepare them for their futures. I also would like to assist adults seeking to expand their skill sets with beneficial learning opportunities through hands-on experience and expert guidance.
Action Brief Statement:
Convince the community of Monrovia that by creating a dedicated makerspace in the Monrovia Public Library they will have more opportunities to create lifelong learning opportunities for all people in the community which will benefit the community and everyone in it because we will help to enhance the quality of life, expertise and life skills for the community as a whole.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: (URLS, articles to help guide you)
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service: (Who might be involved in setting policies? Where might you look for example policies? What do you want to include in guidelines for use?)
A committee will be formed to handle some of the planning for the new makerspace area at the MPL. All departments will be represented in the committee and all decisions will need to be approved by various community stakeholders, including, the Library Director, Library Board, City Attorney, City Manager and City Council. We will look to the policies set by other public libraries when they set up their makerspaces to guide us in the drafting of our guidelines.
The mission of the makerspace will align with four of the six areas of enhancement from the MPL’s Strategic Plan. Those areas include, enhance experiences, enhance access, enhance partnerships and enhance technology. (This is important for buy-in from the community stakeholders and maintaining a consistency in the library’s messaging.) The MPL wishes to enhance community access and experiences with technology through its new makerspace, thanks to partnerships formed within the community.
The guidelines and policy will be set, specifically, by the library director and supervisors of the various library departments. The committee will have input, but the final policy and guidelines will be set by the director and supervisors. When preparing the guidelines and policy, safety must be of paramount importance. The library is a public entity and the city will be held responsible/liable for any accidents or mishaps. We will need to consult with the city attorney to ensure there are no issues with liability.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: (Some projects may require staff time, in-kind contributions, pro-bono contracts. Others may require promised funding or cash. Grants? Donations? Fund-Raising?)
We will need some money to convert a portion of the youth services area to a makerspace. We already have some of the equipment needed to populate the space, but furniture, shelving and
some equipment will need to be purchased. We will depend on fund-raising and grants for funding the new makerspace. We can apply for a grant, like the Maximizing Learning Spaces – Furnishings Opportunity grant through the California State Library, to cover the cost of furniture for the project. The rest of the funding we can ask the Friends of the MPL, Library Foundation and/or Monrovia Reads nonprofit to cover the other costs of the project. Staff will need to be trained to work in the new makerspace. We can also rely on a group of well-trained and/or experienced volunteers to assist with the space. The city will have to have Public Works do some of the construction for the project, but some can be completed by other contractors.
Action Steps & Timeline: (Can your target Technology or Service be prototyped? What’s a reasonable timeline for this project? What are the project flow dependencies? Who has to say “yes?” What are the planned alternatives if there is a “no.”)
When considering a timeline for the project we must be realistic and take into consideration all of the different entities, groups and organizations that are a part of this process. Taking all of this into consideration, I think, roughly, 12 to 16 months is a realistic timeline.
Pitch idea to appropriate stakeholders to get okay to beginning planning process. (Library Director, Library Board, City Council) (2-3 weeks)
Form committee and begin to plan out the project and work out a design for the area (8-10 weeks)
Marketing and fundraising push for the makerspace, including forming partnerships and raising money (10-12 weeks)
Decide on the final design for the space (4-6 weeks)
Youth services area redesign and staff and volunteer training (24-35 weeks)
Draft final mission statement, policy and guidelines for the new makerspace. (4-6 weeks)
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: (Is this a new service that requires staff? Where will staff (or other) hours come from? Brainstorm some creative, outside-the-box ideas for generating hours.)
This is a new service that requires some staffing, but it does not need to be always be staffed because it will not always be open to the public. (The initial rollout will we limited in the amount of time it is open.) We will have a dedicated group of volunteers that we can roll out in coordination with the opening of the makerspace. There will be plenty of time to find them, certify them through the city (all volunteers must go through this process), and have them trained to work in the space. Staff will also be trained to work in the makerspace. Staff hours will come from the time we already spend working the STEAM programs the library currently offers, at least one per week plus planning and implementation, and through reassessment of how we staff the library. This should be sufficient to handle the increase in demand from the makerspace. If not, we can consider turning one of our three full-time librarians into the technology, or makerspace, librarian, taking one of the 5 library assistants and having them help to manage the area, have each of the pages and clerks help out in the area for a couple of hours each week or some combination of these suggestions to generate hours. We are really relying on the relationship between staff and volunteers and the responsibility/engagement of the community to properly manage the space.
Training for this Technology or Service: (Who gets trained? Who designs the training? When can training be effectively scheduled?)
Staff and volunteers will all be trained. The training will be designed by the makerspace committee, who will reach out to experts in the community to design the trainings. There should be one general training and a number of different specific trainings that deal an area of expertise, e.g., sewing, coding, robotics, circuitry, etc. This should allow the schedule to effectively be made using the trained staff and volunteers and allow for people to be able to choose what areas they would like to learn more about or exert their expertise.
Training can be effectively scheduled during the time the physical space is being transformed and built. This will allow ample time for people to become familiar with the area of expertise they are focusing on. Refresher, new staff or volunteer courses can be scheduled quarterly to train new hires and strengthen the skills of current staff and volunteers. This will allow current staff and volunteers the opportunity to fortify their training and the option of taking on a different area of specialty.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: (How can the new technology or service be promoted? Brainstorm some ideas to promote within your organization. Brainstorm more ideas to promote outside your organization.)
We will create all kinds of promotional materials and take advantage of all marketing avenues to promote the new makerspace at the MPL to those outside of the organization. We have the regular channels and modes of marketing and promotion we will take advantage of, regarding this new service, including, local government circulars, social media, physical promo materials (flyers, posters, banners, etc.) and email lists. We will also team with the school district to promote the space. On our daily trips to the local elementary schools and monthly trips to the local preschool, middle school and high schools, we can bring our 3D printers and Legos on the mobile library van to promote the library’s resources and the new makerspace. We can do demos, challenges, contests and other things to maximize engagement.
Another way we can promote the makerspace is to partner with different businesses in the area or other city departments. We can also rely on our existing relationships and use those to form new partnerships in the community. We can also partner with adult and trade schools and local community colleges to let adults know about the services we offer. This could involve flyers, outreach, or some other approach to marketing our services and resources. We also have an existing relationship with the management at a large shopping center where we could demo the 3D printers and some other resource we want to showcase. (Robotics kits, circuits, Legos, sewing, etc.)
Evaluation: (What benchmarks and performance metrics will you use to evaluate the technology or service. What stories are you envisioning telling about it? How might you expand the service in the future?)
Initially, we will use the same data and statistical analysis we always use to analyze our other programs. This involves headcounts every hour on the half hour and attendance at each unique program. This will also involve having people fill out short surveys to figure out levels of satisfaction and the areas we can improve. We will also have a feedback box to allow people to give us suggestions and critiques. This will allow us to measure both quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate the work we are doing and services we are providing to the community. We will also slowly roll out the service at the beginning. This will allow us to better serve the community by figuring out what they want, how we can offer the services and allow us to gauge which services they enjoy the most. As Wickner (2015) points out it will give us an opportunity to learn from our mistakes.
We could expand the service in the future by transforming a portion, or all, of our mobile literacy van into a makerspace. This could actually be accomplished at a small percentage of the cost of the conversion of the physical library location. It would also allow us the opportunity to potentially impact a larger portion of the community’s population, especially the underserved portions of the community that need these services the most.
ALIN. (n. d.) Maarifa centres. Retrieved from https://alin.net/Introduction
Anythink Libraries. (n. d.) About. Retrieved from https://www.anythinklibraries.org/about
City of Monrovia. (n. d.). Monrovia Public Library strategic plan 2017-2022. Retrieved from https://www.cityofmonrovia.org/home/showdocument?id=8883
Ewen, Lara. (2018). A movable feast: Libraries use mobile kitchens to teach food literacy. American Libraries. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/09/04/movable-feast-library-mobile-kitchens/ https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/09/04/movable-feast-library-mobile-kitchens/
New York Public Library. (2018). Insta Novels: Bringing classic literature to Instagram stories. Retrieved from https://www.nypl.org/blog/2018/08/22/instanovels
Wickner, A. (2015) Designing library spaces. HLS. Retrieved from https://hacklibraryschool.com/2015/01/21/designing-library-spaces/