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Makerspaces: Introduction

What to Make in My Makerspace: Putting the Laboratory Back in the Library

New Librarianship

David Lankes, Professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, in The Atlas of New Librarianship, used over 400 pages to discuss what he believes is the one mission we have as librarians.

The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

That mission is broken out into five elements with knowledge creation being the foundational concept.

  1. Knowledge creation
  2. Facilitating
  3. Communities
  4. Improve society
  5. Librarians

Learning Theories

Constructionist Learning

Constructionism is often described as a "learning-by-making" formula but proponent Seymour Papert says that such a formula is an inadequate simplification, it should be considered "much richer and more multifaceted, and very much deeper in its implications." Papert, S. & Harel, I., Situating Constructionism, 193-206 (1991). Individual learners construct mental models in order to understand the world around them. Students learn through participation in project-based learning where they make connections between different ideas and areas of knowledge facilitated by the teacher through coaching rather than using lectures or step-by-step guidance. Learning happens most effectively when people are active in making tangible objects in the real world. 

Seymour Papert became the most well known proponent of constructionism upon the publication of his seminal book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas (Basic Books, 1980).

Participatory Culture

The potential of participatory culture for civic engagement and creative expression has been investigated by media scholar Henry Jenkins. In 2006, Henry Jenkins, et al., authored a white paper entitled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. This paper describes a participatory culture as one:

  1. With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement
  2. With strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others
  3. With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices
  4. Where members believe that their contributions matter
  5. Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).

Makerspace Manifesto

  • Everyone is a Maker
  • Our world is what we make it.
  • If you can imagine it, you can make it.
  • If you can't open it, you don't own it.
  • We share what we make, and help each other make what we share
  • We see ourselves are more than consumers--we are productive; we are creative
  • Makers ask, "What can I do with what I know?"
  • Makers seek out opportunities to learn to do new things, especially through hands-on, DIY interactions
  • The divisions between subjects like math and art and science dissolve when you are making things. Making is an interdisciplinary endeavor.
  • It's all right if you fail, as long as you use it as an opportunity to learn and to make something better.
  • We're not about winners and losers. We're about everyone making things better.
  • We help one another do better. Be open, inclusive, encouraging and generous in spirit.
  • We celebrate other Makers--what they make, how they make it and the enthusiasm and passion that drives them.

Maker Media, Makerspace Playbook School Edition Spring 2013

Also see the Fab Charter from the Fab Foundation.

Special Collections Librarian

Sharon Bradley's picture
Sharon Bradley
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