Day Eighty Five of the CMLE Summer Fun Library Tour!


Even the word sounds fun and action-oriented. Maker. Making.

You just think cool things will happen!

The future of many school libraries is anchored to makerspaces

The Future Ready Librarians initiative lends a framework to the transformation

“Not long ago the New Milford High School library in New Jersey was pretty traditional. It had tall stacks of books and old wooden tables that didn’t move easily. It was underutilized. Students weren’t drawn to it and, to a large extent, neither were teachers.

Today, it’s a different story. Students stop by the library during their lunch period and come before and after school. Teachers send students down to work on projects during class time or bring their entire classes. With far more people in and out of the library throughout the day, circulation is way up.

What changed? The library itself got a makeover, but school culture did, too.

Laura Fleming became the New Milford High School librarian during a time of transformation. In her first year, she got rid of some bookshelves and created more dynamic seating arrangements. She also started allowing food and drink in the library so students could take advantage of the space during their lunch periods. And she created a makerspace.

Fleming, author of “Worlds of Learning: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School,” says the maker movement has changed the face of school libraries, and hers is no exception. Now in her fifth year at New Milford High School, Fleming has a beautiful, well-stocked makerspace, but early on she largely had to make do with baby steps.

The space, in a corner of the library that wasn’t previously being used for much, took shape over time — old bookshelves were converted into high-top workspaces, an old table got a LEGO plate glued on top of it, and little by little, students had room to create. And it didn’t matter that they didn’t have all the latest tech gadgets at their disposal.

“Makerspaces are about creating a maker culture,” Fleming said. “It’s a mindset. It’s a toolbox at your disposal for reaching kids. That can be done in any space and on any budget.”

Fleming finds some of her most consistent visitors to the makerspace are students who are most disengaged from the traditional curriculum. The library now offers them a place for constructive, creative work.

Many school districts around the country are reversing prior decisions to cut librarians, realizing the school library can be at the heart of a broader digital transformation.”

Read the rest of this article here.

What is in your makerspace? How did you get started? Do you have suggestions for others, or questions from yourself?