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What It Takes to Implement a Makerspace

I haven’t been able to blog much recently. But at the recent ALA Annual Conference at San Francisco, I presented on the topic of what it takes to implement a makerspace at an academic library. This was to share the work of my library’s Makerspace Task Force that I chaired and the lessons that we learned from the implementation process as well as after we opened the Innovation Space at University of Maryland, Baltimore, Health Sciences and Human Services Library back in April.

If you are planning on creating a makerspace, this may be useful to you. And here is a detailed guide on 3D printing and 3D scanning that I have created before the launch of our makerspace.

I had many great questions and interesting discussion with the audience. If you have any comments and things to share, please write in the comments section below! If you are curious about the makerspace implementation timeline, please see the poster “Preparing for the Makerspace Implemnetation at UMB HS/HSL”  below, which my coworker Everly and I presented at the MLA (Medical Library Association) Meeting this spring.

(1) Slides for the program at ALA 2015 Conference, “Making a Makerspace Happen: A discussion of the current practices in library makerspaces and experimentation at University of Maryland, Baltimore.”

(2) Poster from the MLA 2015 Meeting: Preparing for the Makerspace Implemnetation at UMB HS/HSL


Two Simple Ways to Upgrade the User Experience of Your Library

If you ever had the feeling that your library space might look somewhat dull and unexciting, there might be some relatively simpler ways to change that.  The university I work at has two separate campuses and I work at one of them.  But this week, because of some committee work, I spent time at the other (BBC) campus. This was actually the first time that I had time to look around the library there. And I immediately noticed these colorful chairs on the first floor.

Colorful Chairs

Colorful Chairs at Florida International University BBC Campus Library

The library building at the BBC campus has a pretty traditional look. The building is clean and neatly kept, but the colors of the wall and the carpet are neutral and conservative. While this might induce the sentiments suitable for serious study and concentration, the uniformly neutral colors may also create an impression that the library is dull and boring.

I was quite impressed by how these several colorful chairs do a great deal in counteracting such an impression. Considering that re-painting or re-carpeting is quite expensive, adding some color chairs like this can be a simple and effective way to create a more positive impression about library space to users.

While I was hanging out at the first floor, I was looking for a power outlet to plug in my laptop.  The BBC campus library has power outlets on the floor in addition to some on the walls. This is a great feature because often users would be studying in the middle of the library space where they would be too far away from the walls.

Power Outets

Hard-to Notice Power Outlets

However, the power outlets are not very visible in its white color. Considering that a lot of library users look for power outlets, it would be great if they are made visually more prominent.

To come to think of it, hard-to notice power outlets are a problem in other places. At any coffee shop, the tables near the wall where power outlets appear are often the first ones to be taken.  The same goes for the chairs near power outlets at an airport.  I would be delighted if I can easily locate a free power outlet at a coffee shop or an airport. This means that easy-to-notice power outlets are one sure way for coffee shops and airports to win me over as their client.

Granted power outlets are not the major function of a coffee shop or an airport. But if it is an amenity that is highly sought-after by users, then why not make it easy for them to find and use it?

I wonder what other secondary functions or non-major amenities of a library are frequently used by library patrons and how we can make them stand out more. Perhaps, libraries can match those features with services or resources that they want to promote for a better marketing effect.