Growing Learning Communities Through School Libraries and Makerspaces-Creating, Constructing, Collaborating, Contributing

Thank you once again to Jennifer Finley-McGill, David Kates, and the Independent School Library Exchange of Southern California for inviting me to speak at their summer retreat in beautiful Ojai, California.  I am grateful for their hospitality as well as my friend and hostess Elisabeth Abarbanel for treating me to a great week of fun, learning, and sharing!  The slides below are from yesterday’s presentation about the possibilities for makerspaces and school libraries.  Please note all links referenced in the session are live and accessible via the SlideShare post below.

 

Deep in the Heart of Texas: TLA 2013

Original photo by Buffy Hamilton

Original photo by Buffy Hamilton

I’d like to thank the Texas Library Association and all of the attendees for their gracious hospitality and big warm Texas welcome to their annual conference here in gorgeous Fort Worth, Texas!  It was my honor to present two sessions today:

  • Transliteracy and Participatory Practices of Learning:  Praxis for Transformation of Today’s School Libraries and Learning Communities
  • Illuminating Learning Communities Through School Libraries and Makerspaces—Creating, Constructing, Collaborating, Contributing

What I enjoy the most about these conferences is the opportunity to interact with others and learn from their experiences and insights.  We had some rich discussions today that came out of our small group discussion and then large group share in the morning session on transliterate practices; I left with many new ideas simmering that I want to purse from that conversation!  I also appreciated the rich dialogue with fellow librarians and educators after that session as well as the afternoon makerspace session—it’s humbling to have such wonderful opportunities to network with colleagues and learn from their insights, questions, and experiences.  Thank you to everyone who shared such positive feedback and who posed questions in person or via Twitter—I will work this weekend to catch up on threads I missed or need to do some follow-up communication with in the next few days.   I’m also appreciative of time spent over lunch, dinner, and coffee with friends today, conversations with vendors in the exhibit hall, and of the feeling of belonging everyone extended to me—thank you for making me feel like one of your very own here in Texas.  I’d also like to give a special thank you to Julie Briggs and Elise Walker for their help in making my being a part of TLA a reality.

You can grab the PDFs of today’s slides either from SlideShare, or you can grab them PDFs directly below.

TLA Transliteracy and Participatory Practices of Learning–Praxis for Transformation of Today’s School Libraries and Learning Communities

TLA 2013 Illuminating Learning Communities Through School Libraries and Makerspaces–Creating, Constructing, Collaborating, Contributing

You can also view and grab the PDFs of the slides here:

Save the Date: Atlanta Mini-Maker Faire!

If you are in the Southeast, I want to invite you to come to the 2nd Annual Atlanta Mini-Maker Faire on October 6, 2012 from 10AM-5PM.  This extravaganza of fun, play, creation, and more will take place at The Tech Walkway at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.  Admission is free, but you’ll need to register for a ticket by going here.  Learners and makers of all ages are invited to come and participate–check out the awesome lineup of 2012 Makers that you’ll get to meet and experience!

I’m honored to be part of the fun and festivities as I share and present “Libraries and Makerspaces”; here’s a short preview of my booth and session I’ll be sharing throughout the day:

Buffy Hamilton aka The Unquiet Librarian will give an exciting presentation on Creating Communities Through Libraries and Makerspaces: Come learn how libraries are inviting participation and generating enchantment by crafting makerspaces for their communities! This presentation will share exciting and innovative ways that academic, public, and school libraries are encouraging a spirit of play and lifelong learning through makerspace culture.

I hope to see you there in October!

Library as Makerspace: Creating and Nurturing Communities of Teen Writers

Original photograph by Buffy Hamilton

As part of our makerspace initiative this year (please see this blog post and this slidedeck here) and inspired by the work of the Sacramento Public Libraryone of my focal points is thinking about ways the library can support creating communities of readers and writers who are crafting and composing texts (and I use the term text rather liberally).  The Sacramento Public Library Winter 2012 “Write at iStreet Press” writing and publishing catalog offers a model of what the library as a makerspace for constructing texts looks like in a community through the public library.  Possible topics I’m interested in offering as “lunch and learn” sessions or after-school sessions could include (but are not limited to!):

  • Creative writing (memoirs, poetry, short stories, novels) and writer’s craft
  • Self publishing options (print as well as eBook/eInk)
  • Academic writing 
  • Digital and/or multimodal composition
  • Multigenre writing
  • Storytelling

While our library program has integrated pieces of these topics in the context of curricular study and collaboration with teachers for class projects over the last few years, I would love for The Unquiet Library to offer a dedicated space (physical and virtual) for more informal learning that would give students more latitude and agency in choice and topics for writing.  I see the library giving our student writing community a place where our teens could create, share, wonder, and experiment.   

While I feel comfortable in leading some of these workshops that I envision, I know we need the expertise and wisdom of our local and global community to help us connect our students with teaching artists (in the spirit of Sacramento Public Library’s iStreet Press writing program) and mentors (see the wonderful Chicago Public Library YOUMedia). Right now I’m in the early stages of reaching out to peers both near and far in my personal learning network to find people in our school community and the Atlanta/north Georgia area who could help facilitate these kinds of writing workshops; I’m also open to using Google Hangouts or Skype if there are mentors from afar who would be interested in facilitating and interacting through virtual means.   Additionally, I’d like to explore how our library could partner with other community groups and organizations (see this inspiration list from UC Davis Continuing Education); I think it would also be fun to collaborate with teen writing groups through other school and public libraries to extend the makerspace writing community!  As we grow the makerspace, I also see us tapping into our students’ talents and enlisting their help in serving as teaching artists and mentors to their peers.  I am hopeful that our makerspace writing community will create, share, and publish texts (individually as well as with peers) in a variety of genres that are personally meaningful to them.

I look forward to sharing with you our journey of this endeavor to make The Unquiet Library a true “incubator” for teen writers.  What suggestions or ideas do you have for the library as a makerspace for young authors and writers who want to craft their art in a variety of genres and modes?

*author’s note:  I’m delighted to share that this entry is cross-posted at National Writing Project’s Digital Is*

Makerspaces, Participatory Learning, and Libraries

The concept of libraries as makerspaces first hit my radar last November when I read about the Fayetteville Free Library’s FabLab.  As I began hearing more buzz about libraries and makerspaces the first few months of this year, I decided that learning more about this concept and exploring how I might apply the elements of makerspaces to my library program would be a personal learning project for the summer.

So what is a makerspace?  Makerspace defines it as:

Modeled after hackerspaces, a makerspace is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects. It could be embedded inside an existing organization or standalone on its own. It could be a simple room in a building or an outbuilding that’s closer to a shed. The key is that it can adapt to a wide variety of uses and can be shaped by educational purposes as well as the students’ creative goals.

The Library as Incubator Project describes makerspaces as:

Makerspaces are collaborative learning environments where people come together to share materials and learn new skills… makerspaces are not necessarily born out of a specific set of materials or spaces, but rather a mindset of community partnership, collaboration, and creation.

In late spring, I was even more intrigued by the concept as my friend and colleague Kristin Fontichiaro began sharing some of her thoughts on makerspaces and the possibilities for school libraries.  While immersing myself into researching makerspaces last week, I discovered friend and fellow librarian Heather Braum is also fascinated by the possibilities, and she shared her current list of resources with me including photos and video from her visit this past weekend to the Kansas City Maker Faire.  You can learn more about Heather’s MakerFaire experience in her new blog post here.

While I am having fun soaking up ideas and brainstorming ways we could cultivate makerspaces in The Unquiet Library, I can’t help but notice that makerspaces provide opportunities for participatory learning.  As regular readers of the blog know, participatory learning is the guiding framework for my library program and services.  Project New Media Literacies identifies these principles of participatory learning:

  • Heightened motivation and new forms of engagement through meaningful play and experimentation
  • Learning that feels relevant to students’ identities and interests
  • Opportunities for creating using a variety media, tools and practices
  • Co-configured expertise where educators and students pool their skills and knowledge and share in the tasks of teaching and learning
  • An integrated system of learning where connections between home, school, community and world are enabled and encouraged
I believe that makerspaces can provide students AND teachers opportunities to exercise these elements of participatory learning and to form what James Gee calls affinity spaces, communities formed around passions and shared interests. Tinkering, collaborative learning, play, conversations for learning, intergenerational learning,experimentation, inquiry, the act of creation, and problem solving–these are just some of the qualities that can happen in makerspaces and encourage participatory learning.

Buffy swooning over her new School’s Out Issue of MAKE

My excitement about the possibilities of makerspaces was fueled today by an unexpected trip to a local Barnes andNoble store and stumbling upon the “School’s Out!  Summer Fun Guide” issue of MAKE magazine which includes a set of 3D glasses to interact with the magazine features!  While some of the makerspace ventures do involve some startup costs and others might involve equipment and materials that wouldn’t fit the typical school library budget, this issue is brimming with ideas to help librarians easily craft makerspace culture on a dime.

So what are some additional resources if you’re in the initial thinking/planning/wondering stages for how to create a makerspace as an essential learning space in your library?

Are you thinking about incorporating makerspaces (as well as hackerspaces) into your library during 2012-2013?  If so, please help the education and library communities crowdsource this concept by sharing your resources and ideas!

Why no, B&N, MAKE is not just for men or boys–girls like makerspaces, too!

Interestingly enough, the magazine issue was on display in the freestanding “men’s interests” display rack—I did complain to a salesperson that the placement of the magazine was not only sexist but age inappropriate as a magazine geared toward children should probably not be displayed prominently to magazines featuring covers featuring excessive cleavage of women–she promised to share my concerns with the magazine section manager, and I’ll follow up to see what happens.