Magazine article American Libraries

Three Makerspace Models That Work

Magazine article American Libraries

Three Makerspace Models That Work

Article excerpt

Tools in a library makerspace range from electronics to digital media, 3D printing, and more. While the variety of products and space configuration is vast, the approach to implementation is not. Here are a few makerspace models that work.


Jeff Krull, director of Allen County (Ind.) Public Library (ACPL), identified partnerships as a key ingredient to developing a successful project. While he can't pin down the exact day they joined forces, Krull and Greg Jacobs, president of TekVenture, met several years ago, and a partnership blossomed.

"They [TekVenture] needed a practical solution to their space issue, a physical presence where the community could visit to learn about them," Krull said. "I needed a partner to help work through ideas, expose the library to making, and potentially help me implement a solution. We could both benefit from working together."

Jacobs outfitted a 50-by-10-foot trailer; wired it for phone, power, and internet; filled it with tools; and then parked it in a lot across the street from the library. ACPL's costs are less than $200 a month for utilities and other services.

Together, TekVenture and ACPL developed a summer program schedule.

The library promotes the TekVenture Maker Station while TekVenture delivers the makerspace programs. Topics run the i gamut from basic robot assembly and circuit bending to holography and welding, totaling more than 50 classes. In addition, Maker Station is home to weekly maker meetups and the place where library staff receive hands-on exposure to making.

What's next for ACPL? "I've come to the conclusion that if we're really going to have a library makerspace, then we need to get past the Maker Station very quickly. It's too unavailable across the street and its open hours are too limited. We need to do something inside the library building itself," Krull said.

Centralize, develop, deploy

Cleveland Public Library Executive Director and CEO Felton Thomas Jr. is leading the charge to "make libraries the center of learning, where technology is provided that levels the playing field for the disadvantaged."

Cleveland Public Library's approach centers on its Main Branch, where ideas are developed and tested and then rolled out as appropriate. The library system launched TechCentral on June 14, 2012, building out 7,000 square feet and consolidating technology from two buildings.

TechCentral features a computer lab with 90 workstations (there are 120 HP Thin Clients throughout the library); circular tables to encourage meeting, interaction, and collaboration; and a "TechToyBox" with iPads, Kindles, and other technology. There's even a 3D printer. Working with HP and Citrix, Cleveland Public Library built a MyCloud service that includes Microsoft Office. MyCloud provides a personal desktop persistent across sessions and available to each library card holder older than 17.

The 14-member TechCentral team "are all trained library assistants but filtered for technology prowess," C.J.Lynce, TechCentral's manager, said. Team members offer free computer and tech topic classes and one-on-one training sessions.

TechCentral's $1 million launch was funded primarily through existing budgets: The library centralized computers and added a few new ones, and redeployed library employees. It also partially funded the MyCloud and Tech ToyBox through corporate partners. The facility itself was formerly housed in the AV department. …

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