#WhyIMake: Spreading the Maker Spirit at the Glenview Public Library

by Beth Kerns, Librarian, Glenview Public Library, | 2/15/2017

A recent Infy Award Youth Winner Maker Kate S nominated Glenview Public library to receive a $10,000 Infy Maker Award grant for mobile Makerspace carts and Maker Educator training for library staff. Librarian Beth Kerns debuted the new mobile Makerspace carts at a Family Tinker Night in January 2017.

Creative programs for children aren’t new to the Glenview Public Library. In the past, the Library has offered everything from building your own birdhouse to creating fabric mosaics. In the Youth Services Department, many of our creative programs have followed the same format: see the sample, make yours look or work like the sample. This isn’t necessarily a bad approach. There are certainly times when you want the scarf you’re knitting for grandma to look like a scarf.

However, after attending Maker Educator training this past August, I realized we could make minor tweaks to our traditional programs to take them to the next level. We could make our program offerings more process- than product-oriented. We could let the kids discover uses for materials that we might not imagine. We could create an atmosphere where it was okay to fail and try again. And with the Infy Maker Grant money the Library received, we could develop a balanced collection of tools and materials to appeal to kids with diverse interests.

With these ideas to guide us, we created our Mobile Makerspace carts. The carts feature items that we purchased with the Infy Maker grant money, as well as materials and equipment already owned by the Library. Earlier this year we debuted our three Mobile Makerspace carts with an event called Family Tinker Night. Stations were set up with different activities, which families could visit whenever they chose, during the two-hour program in our Community Room. Seventy-six kids and their grown-ups enjoyed an evening of making beads and mini buttons, building with Makedo construction tools, adding to a community drawing, weaving potholders, and experimenting with Makey Makeys and Squishy Circuits.

Marker Space

The attendance numbers were impressive for a bitter cold January night, but more exciting than that was what we observed. Families worked together to build a cardboard village, no instructions needed. Kids who had mastered using the paper bead recyclers and button maker showed new arrivals how to get started.

Cardboard

And one family enjoyed the program so much they stayed twenty minutes past program’s end. We loaned them a few potholder looms to take home to get them to leave the room before the library closed. We wanted our maker programs to create a sense of community and to build confidence and competence in our youth. I’m happy to say that we’re off to a great start!

potholder

With the success of our Family Tinker Night, we are very excited about upcoming maker events in the Youth Services Department, like the new Maker Mondays. The “maker spirit,” however, has not been confined to one department in the Library. The Reader Services Department is working on creating a collection of maker items including sewing machines, telescopes, and GoPro cameras. Representatives from all departments have also formed the Maker Corps, a committee to plan library-wide maker programs like the Maker Faire coming up in May. The Faire will bring library staff and patrons together to explore robotics, astronomy, fiber arts, and more.