Maximizing Makerspaces: Virtual 2.017 Mini-Conference Recap

Published: Thursday, November 02, 2017 by Priscilla Ameneyro

The last Library 2.0 web conference in the three part series for 2017 took place online and for free on October 11. SJSU iSchool faculty, students, LIS experts and professionals came together to talk all things makerspaces. If you weren’t able to attend, you can view all of the recordings (including past conferences) on the Library 2.0 YouTube channel. As well as an opening and closing keynote session, there was a pre-conference event and twelve other presentations. I learned a lot from the conference (and not just about makerspaces!) and I’m happy to share some of the highlights with you below.

Opening Keynote
Moderator and closing keynote speaker Dr. Heather Moorefield-Lang, Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina, was joined by Drs. June Abbas and Kyungwon Koh (University of Oklahoma), Dr. Leanne Bowler (University of Pittsburgh), and Kristin Fontichiaro (University of Michigan) for the opening presentation.

Dr. Bowler was first up to talk about the Mindful Maker Research Project which was a study of teens in public library makerspaces. The research question was “how might we help young people think creatively, critically, metacognitively and with a deep self awareness and social responsibility vis á vis their relationship with the technologies and media that they create and use?” Through their research, they came up with eight questions that mindful makers should ask. You can download a poster with the eight questions here.

In their presentation, “Social Roles and Community Engagement,” Dr. Abbas and Dr. Koh discuss that “LIS students need to understand the role that community members may play in the makerspace” and that “LIS educators should include skills and strategies for building, managing and maintaining these partnerships in classes on makerspaces and/or library community engagement.”

Next, Kristin Fontichiaro shared her ideas for how we can maximize the community impact of the maker movement by fueling academic achievement, helping people live productive lives, helping people grow their job skills and employment prospects, and finally encouraging economic growth through entrepreneurship.

Pre-conference: STEAM and Making at the Fayetteville Free Library
One of the most interesting presentations occurred before the conference even started! In the pre-conference event, Sue Considine, Executive Director, and Mike Cimino, Technology Integration Specialist at Fayetteville Free Library, shared their experiences creating dedicated makerspaces in their library. Check out the tour of their library’s makerspaces that they created for the conference. 

Closing Keynote
For the closing keynote, Dr. Moorefield-Lang focused on accessibility in her talk “Equitable Access and Makerspaces.” Usually we think of makerspaces for making physical things, but Dr. Moorefield-Lang shared that makerspaces can be digital too including tools for digital storytelling, and music, video and visual art creation. She goes on to say that librarians should create makerspace experiences for everyone, including those who are visually or hearing impaired, and those with mobility or cognitive impairments. Look out for an upcoming interview with Dr. Moorefield-Lang in the iStudent blog to learn more about her background and advice for pursuing a career in makerspaces.

Presenter Sessions
After the opening keynote, attendees had the choice of several different sessions going on simultaneously. The beauty of watching the recordings is that you don’t have to choose, you can watch them all! I’ve selected a few to give you an idea of what’s out there. A good one to start with especially if you’re not that familiar with makerspaces, is “Finding What Fits: Approachability of Makerspaces and Making in the Library.” A PhD student shares her current research, starting by explaining what making actually means and using lots of good examples.

For anyone working in a library that doesn’t have a makerspace, check out “Low Cost Tools to Bring Making into Your Library.” Robert Pronovost, Innovative Learning and Technology Integration Coordinator at San Mateo County Office of Education, shares his list of low cost tools that you can get a makerspace up and running with including hot glue guns, playdough, LEGOⓇ, a vinyl cutter and other resources such as Code.org.

Two more presentations to point out are “Keeping it Fresh: How to Create and Sustain a Maker Culture that Motivates” about school libraries, and “Volunteers at Your Library Makerspace,” that details the types of roles volunteers can play in makerspaces and how to organize and manage them.

Whatever presentation you choose (or if you watch them all), you’ll find plenty of practical advice from folks who have been there and done it in a variety of library settings. This was my first time attending a Library 2.0 conference, and I’m really glad I did. I’m already excited for Library 2.018!

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