Making Space: libraries and makers


Retrieved October 10, 2017 from


Over the last two decades a people-led movement has been gathering momentum in communities across Australia.  With a combination of technologies of various kinds, traditional DIY handmade crafts, artisans and inventors, the maker movement is well and truly established. But what are the implications for libraries, and as a clear extension, for librarians in Australia?

Libraries have played a strong role in the maker movement, both here and overseas. By offering ‘studio space’ that was available, many libraries have been proactive in promoting themselves as gatherings for this activity. An obvious example in Brisbane would the The Edge at South bank, a wing of the State Library of Qld dedicated to this movement. But what of the libraries that have to adapt, and indeed make space for the makers? What are some of the reactions and some of the ways to go about it? The makerspace debate tends to generate some polarized reactions. Some studies suggest that in a large majority of cases library users seem happy and in fact endorse the practice of makerspace. On the negative side of the spectrum, those that in the minority resist the changes appear to be librarians themselves or library staff members.  Is there a clear idea in the library profession as to what is the contribution that libraries can bring to this space and vice versa? Something I took away from the other night’s twitter chat was that most of us were not sure as to how far to take it, what to do with it. What is the library’s mission in all this? If the overseas experience is anything to go by, libraries are at the nexus of it.

I think part of the answer to the questions begins by clarifying the level of involvement that a library wants, needs or (I suspect in most cases) is able to have with the community it serves. I think there would be many libraries that would be happy to offer more to their patrons than what they do, but in spreading themselves too thin might risk becoming the classic ‘jack of all trades and master of none’.  As always, there are budgetary restraints and a library needs to think carefully before investing in technologies that might be just a passing fad or outdated within a short period of time. Yet it would seem it is in the very nature of the maker movement to make do with very little indeed – something libraries are well-versed in. From that point of view, makerspaces and libraries seem a natural match.

I think that makerspaces in libraries are here to stay and will continue to make inroads in the years to come. As far as the library profession goes, I suspect that this will somehow end up being integrated into the education for future librarians. The benefits for young members of the community is also becoming clear. Furthermore, libraries are more than just access points to information in the community. They are places of connection, collaboration and participation that promote community cohesion. More of that, I say.




7 thoughts on “Making Space: libraries and makers”

  1. Hi Ramiro,

    Thanks for your post – it’s interesting to read about the arguments for and against Makerspaces in libraries with most of the opposition coming from some libraries resisting change and lack of space, technology etc. I also agree with your concern (as iterated by others in the twitter chat) that investing in technologies that are soon to be outdated doesn’t seem logical. Having said that, you have to spend money on technology to yield the benefits of it.

    I read the article that you linked about what skills librarians will need in the future and I couldn’t agree more – education in this area is crucial as a new librarian if we need to be able to show users how to use new technologies. I watched a TEDx Talks video about the ‘Library of the Future’ (, and the speaker Melanie Florencio was discussing all the diverse classes she ran as part of the Makerspace program at her library. It just highlights how important it is to not just learn and absorb content, but to teach people how to create content – as creating is the highest level of learning

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, sorry about the late reply and thank you for your comment. Yes, I found it interesting that most of the resistance in this issue was coming from librarians (some librarians anyway). At the same time, I think once I get some experience in the field I might have a more rounded opinion of how much it’s possible to do in a certain library setting and with a certain budget.

      I definitely think that Makerspaces are here to stay and the librarians of the future (namely us) need to be trained to enable these programs to take place. But most of all I agree with your comment at the end – creativity is indeed the highest form of learning. I could easily get off topic here but suffice it to say that creativity is a lot more than a past time – it’s solving problems, it’s thinking outside the box and as you mention, it’s taking ownership of one’s learning and going with it.


  2. Hi Ramiro, great post as always presenting both view points. I want to give feedback on referencing style and not on content today. That would make up your write-up flawless :P. In referencing part, Ian suggested me use the author of article and date(year) to show who written it. In my earlier posts, I was linking to keyword and had to fix it later. Hope this makes sense.


      1. Hi Tashi- I just noticed the ‘right-wing’ auto spell on my reply to you! Hate the way phones do that sometimes. Nothing could be further from the truth as far as my politics go:) Thank you for your feedback. I have enjoyed your contributions in class.


  3. Hi Ramiro, I like that word like collaboration, connection and participation were highly emphasized in your blog. I also vision a library with the so-called makerspaces to do exactly as this. A trip to the library is a bit confusing with plenty of choices as far as activities is concerned. Gone were the days when my library trip is about borrowing or returning a book. There is more to the library than printed copies. I think it will stay, and I hope so. Should they really include ‘makerspaces’ in the curriculum for librarians? I second that.
    In an article from the American newspaper, The Atlantic, they outline how even Benjamin Franklin used a space in the library for some of “his experiments with electricity,” and we all thought makerspaces is a new fad.


  4. Hi Ramiro
    you have a great post .. yes ​, i think libraries have been proactive in promoting themselves as gatherings for this activity because this one of ways to save themselves to be alive because the technology has now facilitated many things in front of people to gain knowledge and develop themselves. I also agree with you, in most cases libraries are able and interesting to have such programs with the community you serve but the issue is that there are budget constraints. So I can say that if libraries find sufficient support they will not hesitate to prepare such programs because people by nature tend to discover and learn and this would be of benefit to the library to attract users.


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