Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nashville MakerSpaces!

Recently, we planned a Nashville MakerSpace tour. Several of our school libraries and the Nashville Public Library have embraced this idea and are creating spaces all over the city for our children and teens. A group of about 20 of us traveled the city and visited four libraries who have incorporated varying levels of MakerSpaces into their library programming.

Here is some advice from the librarians who have jumped in to make this trend come alive in our city.

1. Know your students and start small!

Our first stop was at Hume Fogg Academic Magnet high school. The librarian, Amanda (@asmithfield), took a small nook in her library and turned it into a Creation Station. She knows her students very well and wanted to offer supplies and a space that would benefit their needs. Without a big budget, the Creation Station isn't heavy on technology but offers plenty of resources for students to get creative! During school hours they can use the supplies for class projects and outside of class times (before/after school and during lunch) the students can create and work on personal projects. 

2. Create a space that you can connect with young people and provide them an opportunity for out of the classroom learning.

Our next stop was the Main branch of Nashville Public Library (NPL) in downtown Nashville. Elyse Adler and Adrienne Strock gave us a sneak peek of their teen MakerSpace. The space, named The Studio, is opening up in 2015 and our tour guides discussed their planning process and intentions for the space. It will be a high-tech space meant to be a place for students to come geek out and have fun while learning new skills. They see The Studio as an informal learning environment that can build new skills and knowledge for the students it serves. Ideally, what teens do in The Studio will transfer and have a positive impact on their academic work as well. 

3. Start slow and take the time to get familiar with the equipment.

Our third stop was NPL's Southeast branch located in Antioch, TN. There, Kyle Barber, gave us a tour of the new library and the MakerSpace that is located there. Like the Main branch, students will have a space to play and learn. As they were planning and getting ready to open, the staff had some new equipment (3-D printer for one!) that they weren't that familiar with and were hesitant to have out for teens to use. The staff made the effort to use the equipment and get familiar with it so that as more and more students want to use the space, the staff is ready to support the teens’ creativity and new learning.

4. Forgive yourself! 

Our last stop was one of our newly renovated MNPS libraries at Apollo Middle School. The librarian, Allison (@apolloreader), said to forgive yourself! When her new library opened and she had her first MakerSpace, she wanted to do it all! However, she quickly realized that wasn't going to be possible. So, she slowed down and started taking baby steps to get the space up and running. She thought through her procedures and found ways to get students access to the space and the equipment without adding any unnecessary stress to herself or her clerk.

In closing, whether you start big or start small...just get started! Here are a few additional resources to help...

Low Tech, High Gains: Starting a Maker Program Is Easier Than You Think

Talking Points: Museums, Libraries, and MakerSpaces


Follow us on Pinterest for MakerSpace inspiration!

Team Library

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