Monday, June 9, 2014

Lessons from the Big Guns: Westport Connecticut Public Library blazes the trail

We had the privilege of attending a Makerspace in Public Libraries session recently sponsored by the ITS sub-committee of NELA in the beautiful Portsmouth, New Hampshire Public Library. The highlight of it was hearing Bill Derry, the Assistant Director of Innovation and User Experience, talk about how Westport, CT Public Library "does" Makerspace.
Here is Bill's resource page.
Download his PPT from this page for use in your library.
It's really comprehensive.

Major take-aways were:
  1. The library is THE place in the community to get people started making.
  2.  You don't have to do everything: be the conduit into the Maker World by connecting folks with other Makers and grassroots Makerspaces in your area.
  3. Make your programs as intergenerational as possible.
  4. Don't assume that just because the schools are getting new equipment (e.g. 3D printers) that the public will have any access to them. Schools have to be very cautious and buttoned down. Libraries are THE place for the democratization of resources, tools, and knowledge - always has been, always will be IF we stay current.
  5. You shouldn't have to do it all: build a strong volunteer brigade to help staff and train people.
  6. Get a monthly or seasonal rotation of Makers-in-Residence. This give people the scope of what can be done.
  7. Let clubs and Makerspaces meet at the library and collaborate closely with others.
We are looking forward to creating our new Digital Media Lab in our Upper Level Reference Area and will be posting about that throughout the summer, we hope.

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