More Makerspaces with Dr. Heather Moorefield-Lang

Published: Monday, November 06, 2017 by Priscilla Ameneyro

I caught up with Dr. Heather Moorefield-Lang, Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina, after the Library 2.0 virtual conference to chat further about her favorite topic, makerspaces. In her first time working with Library 2.0, Heather served as the moderator for the opening presentation of the recent “Makerspaces” mini-conference. She was also the closing keynote speaker. If you missed the conference, check out my last post for more information and highlights, or head straight to the Library 2.0 Youtube channel. Keep reading to find out more about Heather, her take on makerspaces, and her tips for students interested in working in this area.

Meet Heather
Heather’s background is in emerging technology, education and libraries. In her early research, she worked with the American Association of School Librarians compiling the best websites for teaching and learning. In 2014, Heather “noticed people were discussing makerspaces and blogging about it but there was little in the scholarly field on the topic.” This sparked Heather to begin her scholarly research into makerspaces. “It started out with what types of technology were being used and then it moved into what was happening in makerspaces[...]what people were doing with them.” Heather’s focus went from a broad view of makerspaces to a more focused approach. Her recent work looks at accessibility and makerspaces (the topic she chose for the closing keynote), as well as LGBTQ populations and makerspaces. What excites her about this area is that “libraries are no longer locations where we go to absorb information, they have become locations where we can create, build and make information as well.”

More About Makerspaces
From her research, Heather has found that no two makerspaces are the same. She went on to explain that this makes sense because libraries are different from one another, and the communities they serve are different. This has made analyzing them a little tricky though, trying to code and draw out themes in qualitative data. Because there is no one size fits all, Heather recommended that libraries make sure there is a real need for a makerspace before spending time and resources on building one out, “makerspaces are great if they are appropriate for your community,” she said.

People ask Heather quite often if makerspaces are a fad. She doesn’t believe they are, because a fad would’ve been over by now, but she acknowledged that they could be a trend. When asked about the future of makerspaces, Heather speculated, “if there are makerspaces in 20 years, they’ll be very focused to what people are interested in. It will depend on funding, community support, politics [and] legislature; we’ve got to keep having the support and funding for libraries.”

Professional Development
As the moderator and closing keynote speaker, Heather enjoyed her experience organizing and participating in the third and final Library 2.017 conference for this year. Describing the opening panel line-up, Heather said “we each have our own perspective in makerspaces,” which added a nice level of diversity to the presentation. Reflecting on the conference, Heather shared that “libraries are an ever changing landscape” and encouraged iSchool students to “take advantage of this incredible professional learning network that we have” in the field of librarianship. Some of her favorite ways to stay current and network in the field are:

Her article on professional development in the field of librarianship, Delivering the message: Disseminating information and professional development in the field of librarianship through technology, can be accessed through the King Library.

Makerspace Careers
“There are more and more positions out there” related to makerspaces, Heather declared. People who are creative, problem solvers and critical thinkers tend to do well in makerspaces. You are not necessarily expected to know how to do everything, from coding to robotics to woodwork, but “if you’re going to work in a makerspace you have to be willing to learn.” Heather described how some makerspaces have folks that aren’t graduates of LIS programs but who are experts in their fields. She emphasized that if someone has an interest or background in arts, crafts, technology, etc., they should highlight that as it will help them stand out when applying to jobs in makerspaces. She suggested keeping an eye out for internships in makerspaces as well. 

Stay in touch with Heather:

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