Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Commit to well-labelled storage

Clear drawers are super storage option
As with any new initiative, committing time and money are of utmost importance. But no less critical is the issue of storage!

Has the library made a commitment to housing all the supplies and tools necessary to run a small electronics lab? A sewing center? A crafting corner?
We are lucky to have a lockable multipurpose room with built in cupboards (it used to host an in-house cafe for patrons which didn't work out). The cupboards provide a welcome location to tuck away tool kits, painting supplies, boxes of costumes, recyclables, etc. that we were using for our annual 4th of July parade float and various on-going programs to which we had made a commitment.

When the notion of a Makerspace came up, we all thought of the Resource Room immediately, but, as the chief "Maker of Messes," "Uncontrollable glitter-meister,"  in the Resource Room, I was keenly aware of the danger of making this space unusable for the many, many other programs the library supports.
Luckily, our local Maker Mentor, Chris Connors, gave us a whole bunch of clear drawers that we could label and tuck away in a corner. Parents of our Middle School DIY club came up with some super plastic bins that have proved invaluable for bulky storage.

Samurai Cardboard Warrior,
Guardian of Makerspaces
Be SURE to take the time to label everything as best you can. This makes the equipment accessible to other staff members and opens the whole Makerspace initiative up to more and more creative ideas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Paint and STEAM

Although I'm not a big home decorator, I have fallen in love with chalkboard and magnetic paints in my home.  Plain mugs, message boards or picture frames are getting a personal touch this holiday season. How does this fit into libraries? With the growing popularity of collaborative spaces between museums and children's rooms in libraries, there is a call for more interactive spaces between parents and their children with or without a librarian present. Old cork boards can be turned into over-sized refrigerator door art displays from patrons with magnetic frames and construction paper. What about making a chalk board to ask a question like what everyone is thankful for this year? and just leave out some chalk (in a well supervised area of course!). We all probably have some magnetic alphabet letters lying around. Why not re-create Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin?
Just this past week I learned about taking it to a whole new level with conductive paint, which turns any surface into a circuit with just paint, a battery, and a led light. A quick tutorial to build a simple circuit is found on Instructables. Bare Paint seems to be the leader in this department, selling kits to make electronic cards, paper houses, and more. They are even adding projects using their Touchboard sensor which will be able to link sound effects with a simple touch. No soldering, just paint and imagination! DIY'ers will be able to make projects such as interactive paper books or walls that teach the alphabet when pressed.  Speaking of awesome interactive walls, check out MIT's living wall project using conductive paint and paper kits.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to brainstorm using these paints for a project like this and promote early literacy and science? There are many home ideas out there with just a quick search on Pinterest that could be implemented easily into libraries cheaply.  Worried about your walls? Use an old bulletin board, canvas, or cookie sheet as a base and start small. This is what I see in the children's room of the future.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hour of Code has begun

Here at the Duxbury Free Library we have geared up to help people of all ages participate in the Hour of Code. Of course, folks can do their hour anywhere they have access to wifi, but we're making it easy to do it at the library!  HOUR OF CODE

We have designated computers for this project, volunteers (our PHILS group and others ) coming after school to help anyone who might be a bit hesitant to dip their toes in, and bookmarks with a list of sites people can follow up with to learn and practice more!

It's important for both boys and girls to see coding as a part of life - no matter what their career goals.
Every modern job will require some knowledge of computer coding to be fully mastered.

It's really logical, fun and satisfying to practice the computational skills on the Hour of Code web site!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Stockholm teen library space is designed with "Making" in mind

Highlighted in the latest School Library Journal, this exciting tween space in the Tio Trennon Library in Stockholm, Sweden, is inspiring...!
"TioTretton is an oasis full of books for those between 10 and 13 years old. Besides snuggling into a book at one of our cozy reading space, you can also play theater, make songs, animate or cook. Or do nothing."
Sewing machines are ready for use to create costumes or whatever.


Opportunities to create films and animations using resident ipads, cook in a full kitchen, sit and read, hang out with friends... all in stocking feet. Shoes are left at the door.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Timeless and powerful design principles can be learned with simple tools

Thinking that I was taking a week off from the cutting edge of coding and electronics, I prevailed upon Nancy Denman and Jessica Lamarre to borrow their Keva blocks to let the Middle Schoolers play with simple pine planks to see what they might construct.

Sure enough, stop the presses. I was caught unawares.
The booklet that comes with the Keva blocks was worth a thousand words, of course, and the most thoughtful of our compadres took a moment to look at and read the simple booklet before proceeding. That was their success.

Come to find out, Keva blocks teach simple but profound concepts of design and construction.  A tightly webbed inter-locking of the bricks achieves enormous stability and firmness.

Check it out for yourself:

In addition, we always host a Take Apart Table that encourages teens to dig under the surface and deconstruct the way electronic toys work.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Coding and electronics

Introducing the PHILS to the coding tutorial for the December "Hour of Code" was fun and, just when we thought we'd have to string them along for a while, the organizers came up with the whole series of tutorials on their web site!                 http://csedweek.org/learn2

We needed the practice run to figure out how much we can rely on using the library wireless connection with our new iPads or do we need to stick to the wired desktops in the Reference and Children's areas. Lucky for us, Denise had arrange for a new wireless router to be installed today in the lower level so now the whole building should have a strong signal all day long. Yay, Denise! We're hoping that will give us adequate connectivity to handle all the old and young Coders we hope will participate in the week long, "HOUR OF CODE" from Dec. 9 - Dec. 14th.

Then, later in the week, we had our first "Wearable Electronics" workshop as a way to gain the interest of girls in circuitry and light.  The Adafruit Candle Flicker Bow project was challenging. Just making the bow was tricky, let alone creating the circuit from the LEDs in the front to the battery carriage in the back using the conductive thread. Whew! But the girls stuck with it and all were successful!

We're hoping to tackle a retro light-up tie in December.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sparkle Bows Circuitry LED Wearables this Saturday

 Our next makerspace project at the DFL is using conductive thread! Who knew they made such a thing?
Want something a little different to wear this holiday season? Make a twinkling accent for your updo.
Open to grades 5-adult on Saturday November 9th from 10-11:30am.

This class will teach you to make a ribbon bow and simple LED circuit. One Adafruit LED Sewing Kit has enough supplies for two bows, so make this project with a friend! All we have to do is sew up the ribbon, attached the circuit and connect the tiny battery. Limit to ten people. Sign up starts on Oct.26th.

Contributions to kit supply gratefully accepted but not required.($15 each)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Highlights from the Teen Summit

I had the opportunity to attend the annual Teen Summit, hosted by the Massachusetts Library System and the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services in Worcester this past week.  Youth librarians from both states were invited to come together and talk shop. The theme this year was "Full STEAM Ahead", a subject that here at the DFL, is right on target.

The keynote speaker was the delightful YA author, Marissa Meyer, who surprisingly spent a small amount of time talking about her wonderful science fiction fairy tale quartet "The Lunar Chronicles" and most of her presentation introducing the concept of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). Using her childhood love of Star Trek, she posed the question; When does science fiction inspire fact or visa versa? Did the Star Trek communicator inspire a flip phone? Will warp speed ever exist? Did the fashionable Geordi La Forge visors inspire tools that grant sight?

These were just a few cross discipline inspirations featured. Stressing the importance of the addition of Art in the STEM concept, Meyer wrote the first draft of the first two books during November's National Novel Writing Month or NANOWRIMO, to try to win a contest for a guest spot on Star Trek.  Meyer was charming and extremely knowledgeable. Interestingly enough, Meyer heavily researched scientific journals at her local library during her research process for the books. The half-cyborg Cinder, the main character in her remake of the fairy tale Cinderella, is based on current scientific research and either can or will happen in the upcoming years. The technological singularity is upon us!

My first break out session was hosted by the Peabody Institute Library's Creativity Lab opening this February. With the help of many community partners, they will be transforming their library basement into a Do-It-Yourself makerspace complete with spots for woodworking , sewing, 3D printing, soldering and a recording studio open to the public. Goals for the space include providing leadership opportunities for teens in the community to run the lab while providing access to tools for scientific and art exploration for all ages. In the meantime, teen librarian Melissa Robinson, has begun hosting many DIY inspired activities with a focus on activism and civic duty.   In her group, Art Activists, teens create photography, music, and design projects to raise public awareness on issues important to them. In addition to learning new skills and having fun while doing it, teens also earn community service hours. She also hosts an inventors club and a gaming for good program to inspire teens to create video games that inspire social change.  It was truly inspiring and a new spin on art concepts that I hadn't thought about in library programming before. Looking for some ideas on where to start? try these webinars.

The second breakout session was "STEAM in the Library: Practical Programming YOU Can Do," hosted by librarians, Tanya Paglia and Sue Rosseau of Portsmouth and Johnston, RI.  Ideas included: stomp rockets, catapults, marshmallow buildings, World Record Wednesdays, stop motion projects, and live Angry Birds. Many of their programs incorporate the goal of "sneaky STEM", where the kids are learning scientific concepts with a more engaging hands on approach as opposed to lectures. The presenters stressed how easy it was to create engaging science programming on a small budget that anyone can do. 

Our closing speaker,  Dr. Carol Giuriceo, Director of the Rhode Island STEM Center, introduced us to the curriculum frameworks behind STEM and stressed the fact that many grants out there are moving in this direction. She inspired us to think of ourselves as scientists and inventors as we brainstormed some inventions we'd love to see in our lifetimes.  Bright ideas included an app that tells you what is in your fridge and when it expires, a book cart with a built in step stool, and easier methods of leaf disposal.

I hope that one thing we all left with was the confidence that although many of us lack a "science background", we can all implement maker space programming on whatever budget we have available and empower members of the community to educate us and our fellow community.  Luckily for librarians, we are surrounded by a plethora of information in various formats and a natural curiosity of the world around us.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Developing Local Skills

Today we started with a Makerspace initiative teaching basic soldering to our Middle school rapscallions, the PHILS, with the super "newbie-friendly" Maker badge. Suzanne and I felt pretty confident based on our previous tinkering...

We were able to refresh our own soldering know-how while giving our antsy Middle Schoolers the training they needed while they had their after-school snacks.
Thank goodness for youtube video tutorials.
Here's the one we watched:

Lo and behold, the guys dove right in without hesitation and, after a few false starts (be sure to buy a couple extra kits), they all got their badges to light up!

Then, in the evening, we shifted gears and hosted Kerrie Capraro and her awesome family of Suburban Homesteaders as they presented, Raising Chickens in the Suburbs! Wow. They really made their case for this exciting family project - so many wonderful experiences that enrich family life.

 There was much experience and expertise shared generously. What I found fascinating was that many of the folks who turned up were either already embarked on this big life-shifting experiment, raising chickens as a family enterprise in a suburban location, OR are getting ready to take the plunge. We made sure everyone had the opportunity to join an email list and make suggestions as to what other programs might be interesting for the library to host.

For example:  
  • Sharing Home Remedies
  • Foraging

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Possibilities of Tinkering Tuesday format

Many of you know that Jessica and I are trying things out on our Middle School group, the PHILS, on Tuesday afternoons, with the objective being to gauge activity flow, supervision requirements, etc. in preparation for a more robust on-going Tuesday program for a more diverse age group.

One of the interesting things we have found is that it's good to have a couple of options to choose from on any given day. Gathering first to explain and perhaps grab a teachable moment, then allow some free flow between activities. Some kids really like to dig into one thing, others like to try a few things out.

This feels important to me because if we want this program to be on-going and a bit self-sustaining, we can't be constantly coming up with unique activities every week, but I don't feel that that's necessary!

The Take-Apart Table is ALWAYS interesting. I learned that limiting the number of things to take apart is better. Yesterday, someone took apart an old keyboard. Inside there was a matrix-like diagram following the keys to their various connections internally - a great example of how the face of something can mask the really inter-connectedness underneath.

Some kids are hams and enjoyed the silly Green Screen recording. Actually teaching them the editing skills will require much more concentrated time and attention.
Others really got into using the Little Bits circuitry and built some interesting things. This is a very "learn-on-your-own" kind of activity.

We are beginning to see how sessions might take shape.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

3D Printing finally makes an appearance at the Duxbury Free Library

Today, Kevin Osborn, Maker Extraordinaire, and his trusty 15 year old side kick, Max Tepermeister, came to explain the history and practical uses for 3D printers. In true Duxbury fashion, we had an audience who feels we should jump right into this technology and make it available to the patrons of the library, tout suite!

With two printers cranking out layers of melted filament, Kevin and Max gave us an inside look at the uses and creativity that 3D printing can inspire. The uses range from replacement human jaws to replacement parts in old cars and machinery to unique artistic creations in plastic, metal and ceramic. Who knew you could create in all these media in the 3D printing world?

Max MADE his 3D printer from scratch and tweaked it all summer long (did I mention that he's 15 and in the 10th grade?) and he was cranking out the pieces to this really cool interlocking spiral gear that looked kinda like the cross-section of an ammonite.... but I digress....

Patrons themselves are prompting the discussion on how the library might evolve into a Tinkering, Making, Creating Laboratory! This group will be just the people who can provide support, outreach and encouragement of our Makerspace transformation.

The afternoon was spent talking about movement activated Halloween lawn displays, Arduino and Raspberry Pi devices home-built to terrify and spook unwitting trick-or-treaters.  We built Larsen scanners for putting into Jack-o-Lanterns, (or cyclon heads depending on your sculpting skills). The soldering was tricky, mostly because we were using non-lead solder, which has to be heated up hotter than lead and is harder to direct on the board. Jessica and I are going to experiment with the two different types and do some reading on the lead dangers to see if there is a reasonable, non-poisonous trade off...

Reprap:  http://www.youtube.com/watchv=FSoexU_DlFQ  https://plus.google.com/102798926840375411636/postKevin's own blog is here:

Get digital designs here:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Circuits can be simplified... enter Little Bits.

Cardboard kitties do cool stuff with Little Bits
I just borrowed a set of Little Bits from the Children's Room tonight to try them out in the hope that we can get some quick traction in electronics without relying on an "expert" or a ringer. Success!

Check out the wonderful TED talk by Little Bits creator, MIT Media Lab alum, Canadian of Lebanese Arab background, Ayah Bdeir(she got a B.A. from the American University of Beirut before she got her M.A. at the MIT Media Lab). This is a quintessential example of the global brain trust. Plus, she doesn't quite look like the stereotypical engineer...

Ayah Bdeir
Little bits are pre-assembled circuits, held together by magnets, color-coded to make the relationship between Power, Input, Wire, Output. It's that simple, but that's what gives it so much power. It teaches the relationship between components from the get-go.

I'm excited to challenge the teens tomorrow with some building schematics. then, when they figure out how the system works, they can get right down to creating some cool projects!

Just to put icing on the cake, she has registered Little Bits in the Creative Commons, so it is actually considered Open Source.  Now that's cool. Shazam.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Makerspace vs. Adult Ed. Classes

The Case for Libraries as Makerspaces
Although there is a big educational component to the Makerspace Movement, setting up a Makerspace in your library should not be limited to simply finding people to give one-shot lectures or courses. We've been a venue for lectures for decades. Why not just leave classes on topics of interest to the evening classes at the high school or senior center?

The answer is that we are using instructional classes and drop-in help with trouble-shooting as a stepping stone towards an ultimate goal of creating a space where people have the skills, tools, resources both human and physical, and TIME to experiment, explore, and create something new.

The intellectual impetus around Makerspace is the goal of unleashing people's creative juices and making something new that isn't a kit, isn't on a crib sheet, hasn't been thought of yet.

Librarians are exactly the right people to cultivate this movement because we are experts at finding resources, thinking "outside-the-box," putting people together with what they need. We don't need to be the experts ourselves, although that frequently happens, too. We knew the community and can bring people together. We can provide the space - both physically and intellectually - for connections to be made, dreams to be nourished, thoughts to be formulated and tweaked.

Libraries are no longer limited to print collections, though that is still part of our toolkit. Libraries are safe, neutral places in the community where the clientele are not generationally fragmented (schools, senior center), class and income do not matter (libraries are free), religion and ethnicity are interesting but not the point (churches and clubs). As long as you act in a responsible manner and show an interest you can participate in a library activity.

Makers need space, tools, experts, and time. Exploring outside your comfort zone - soldering an electrical circuit, sewing on a button, writing a blog, recording a conversation - is part of what makes a Makerspace special.
The library of tomorrow should be the place where this is possible.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

3-D printing and soldering for adults

We're starting off the Fall season with a bang!

Technology updates and adult soldering lessons. 

Saturday, Sept. 21
10:30 - Noon                    Merry Meeting Room

3-D Printing Lecture / Demo
Find out what all the fuss is about from engineer, Kevin Osborn, director of research and commercial development for the advanced instruments group at Radiation Monitoring Devices. Kevin will bring in his 3-D printer and another one built by a young hacker friend. He will review the history, bringing us up to the present in terms of current and future applications and you will get to see actual 3-D production at work.
Sign ups begin on Sept. 7th on the Meeting Room Calendar:  www.duxburyfreelibrary.org

Saturday, Sept. 21
1- 3 p.m.                            Setter Room

Electrify Your Halloween
Do you love Halloween? Want to do more than build displays for your porch and lawn?Go one step further and make them move, scream and otherwise react to trick or treaters!
Join us as Maker Kevin Osborn explains how, using simple and inexpensive items, you can engineer reactive displays for your porch, lawn and (Haunted) house! In his talk, Kevin will teach you:
* How to use simple motion sensors to activate lights, sound and wind effects
* How to electrify your Jack-o-lantern with simple electronics
* How make creepy low lying fog from a fog machine.
* How to get the stuff you need to start creating interactive professional quality effects for your next Halloween.

Adults only. Soldering skills will be taught.  Supply cost: $20. Please bring in cash. Only space for 10 adults.
You will come away with knowledge and a functioning LED light board for a Jack-o-Lantern.

Space is limited for both these events. Sign ups begin on Sept. 7th on the Meeting Room Calendar:  www.duxburyfreelibrary.org

Friday, August 30, 2013

One-shot Programs vs. On-going Experiences

Here at the DFL we do a lot of programming - for kids, teens and adults. Now that we are re-focusing our programming energy to become a Makerspace, we are discussing the value of single, one-shot programs vs. on-going week by week or month by month programs. I think we have to do both.

In many ways, single, one-shot programs can be very satisfying. Someone comes in and gives a lecture, a performance, a workshop. Everyone enjoys it, gives great feedback and goes home.

With Dale Doughtery's challenge in mind, "If they build it (a tinkering, exploring, discovering space) they will come," we are trying to fathom how to build sustainable, interesting, patron-driven, creation opportunities.

Bookmarks Syping with YA author at Cedar Hill

The models I am leaning on are both my 15 year weekly teen discussion group, which sustains itself, 52 weeks a year - if I'm there or not,

AND, newer upstart status, Laughter Yoga co-led by me and Rose Hickey - a 1 1/2 year weekly experiment.

Natalie Goodrich, 92 years young
One of the things I have learned from this is, you have to believe in it yourself, completely. It's not about responding to patron demand - they didn't know they wanted Laughter Yoga. We exposed them to it and they embraced it.

Starting new things has to be a magical synergy of what you are interested in AND patrons' enthusiasms. One or the other can't do it alone.

Stay tuned for new insights from our exploration of Makerspaces as a new model for library service delivery....!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Night of Knitting 8/19

On Monday, August 19 a new monthly gathering started at the DFL: Knit Night. Run by Karen Hahn, circulation assistant and passionate knitter, this group will meet the 3rd Monday of every month, 6:00- 8:00PM  in the Resource Room for the foreseeable future.

I'm making a blanket, can you tell?
About 12 women (including me in the middle there) showed up for the first meeting. Many had projects started and were there to enjoy knitting with a group, while others were beginners learning how to knit, and some folks brought difficult projects along to get Karen's help with particular problems. Karen gave us a little lecture about the importance of gauge swatches and was both helpful and encouraging to anyone who had a question.

Karen, in turquoise, during a teachable moment.

I, for one, am the only knitter in my circle of family and friends, so it was great to be around people who also like talking about yarn and knitting patterns. Knitting is a great fit with the Makerspace initiative, even though it is not technology based, because it is people sharing their knowledge of this particular skill and making something from scratch. But I am interested in the melding of technology and crafts, especially light up clothing! Maybe that will be a Makerspace project in the future.

If you are a knitter, or any type of fiber artist, come and join us! Are there other crafting groups that you would like to see at the Duxbury Free Library?

And if you're interested, listen to Karen and me talk about knitting on this podcast episode of The Diffle Presents: The Diffle Presents: Episode 6, The Lowdown on Knitting

WIP: Work In Process