Makerspace Mania: What is a makerspace?

15854128181_5c4ec55106_kMarch is makerspace month here at CMLE! This month we’ll have a series of  blog posts with the makerspace theme. This week we try to figure out what makes a makerspace?

Can you define something that can really be anything? That seems to be the quandary with makerspaces. Is a table full of LEGOs a makerspace? How about a place where you can take apart air conditioners? Makerspaces seem to be things that are only limited by the creator’s imagination. One definition:

Makerspaces are spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn.

But we can go deeper than that! Recently in Information Technology and Libraries, the editorial board wrote about makerspaces. “After all, in a very real sense that is what libraries do—and have done, for thousands of years: buy sometimes expensive technology tailored to the needs and interest of the local community and make it available on a shared basis.”

Makerspaces are spaces where people are creating, inventing, and learning, but they also provide a space where everyone has equal access.

The O’Reilly/DARPA Makerspace Playbook can also help us describe the goals of a makerspace: “By helping schools and communities everywhere establish Makerspaces, we expect to build your Makerspace users’ literacy in design, science, technology, engineering, art, and math. . . . We see making as a gateway to deeper engagement in science and engineering but also art and design. Makerspaces share some aspects of the shop class, home economics class, the art studio and science lab. In effect, a Makerspace is a physical mashup of these different places that allows projects to integrate these different kinds of skills.”

Makerspaces are skill-based learning spaces that are open to all, where people are creating and inventing.

Finally, we include a video from Mita Williams, user experience librarian at the University of Windsor, where she talks about makerspaces.

Image credit:, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0