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“STEM is intimidating. Some teens think it’s a subject geared for students that already make straight A’s or already know that they want to go to college,” says Analiza Perez-Gomez, librarian at the Laredo Public Library in Texas. “But libraries level the playing ground. There are no obstacles to STEM here. Teens can try out STEM concepts for the first time with no added pressure.”
The Plant Share and Propagation Library is an area where patrons can donate loose cuttings and/or small potted plants to share. This area is the first part of our makerspace that has a STEAM identity and embraces the heritage of Catawba County, one of artisans, craftsman, textiles, furniture and entrepreneurship.
As librarians, we are passionate advocates for makerspace programming. We share with teachers and students how makerspaces engage and develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Our school library has supported many makerspace programming events, from Makerspace Monday to our monthly Makerspace challenge.
A makerspace — for anyone who isn’t yet aware — is a collaborative workspace where people have the opportunity to construct or explore just about anything they can imagine.
The goal of a library makerspace is to let patrons learn through hands-on experimentation and from collaboration with others. And yes, that CAN be achieved in a small library. Griswold Public Library, located in a small town of about 1,000 in southwestern Iowa, is proof.
Heritage Makers is a series of makerspace workshops that highlight a "maker" from history. The workshops are planned in conjunction with heritage or awareness months for which our library already has celebrations and programming, such as Women's History Month, Disability Awareness Month and Native American Heritage Month.
Makerspaces foster creativity and encourage out-of-the-box thinking, but they often require physical space that a library doesn't have. But even if your library doesn't have a dedicated makerspace, you can still incorporate maker elements into your day. Our school library transforms our lunch period into maker time with STEAM activities such as our Mystery Maker Challenge.
The Highland Park Public Library envisioned forming one robotics team that would meet weekly to participate in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL). FLL is a robotics program that gives elementary and middle-school students the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem using robots and research.
Library for All is a monthly, systemwide, interactive program that welcomes adults with disabilities to make crafts, create art, play games and explore the library. Each program is tailored to the audience’s unique interests and ability levels. The programs encourage the DIY spirit, and each participant has the opportunity to make and take something.
For the past five years, the Russell Library children's department has offered an annual Fairy and Gnome House Workshop as part of its summer events. The event was created by one of our children's librarians, Laura Larsen, and is held in July each year. It has grown in attendance and popularity since its inception.
As part of a weeklong series of programs to celebrate National Library Week, The Bunn Library hosted a DIY Terrarium Workshop during lunch for faculty, staff and students. Participants created small succulent gardens to decorate their desks, workspaces or dorm rooms, and relished in the opportunity to take a break from the stresses of the day to dig around in the dirt and create something.
LEGO Building Challenge is a monthly makerspace program for ages 5 to 12, held at the Rutland Free Library in Rutland City. The library partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Rutland County to create monthly challenges for program participants. The finished LEGO projects were displayed in the library, along with a project description written by the participant.