Makerspaces Created at NCSU Library System, Maker Creativity Taught at SILS

June 23, 2014

MakerSpaceThe library system of North Carolina State University currently employs about 30 alumni of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science. These graduates are some of SILS' best who are implementing cutting-edge strategies to engage and inform students and other library patrons at the NCSU D. H. Hill Library and the new James B. Hunt, Jr. Library.

Most recently, they are involved with the "Maker Movement" a growing initiative that libraries across the nation are establishing to provide spaces, materials and expertise for primarily young patrons to design their own creations. 

In their recently-published Making in the Library Toolkit, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) summed up the rationale for this shift in library services: “By providing time and space allowing teens to experiment with tools they might not have anywhere else, we are bridging the digital divide, as well as helping teens build the skills they need to be successful in life and careers."


Students at SILS designed interesting tech-infused creations during the spring semester of the INLS 534 class "Youth and Technology in Libraries" taught by doctoral student and alumna Casey H. Rawson (MSLS '11). The assignment was part of a midterm assignment focusing on the potential of emerging technologies for helping young library users not only access, but also create and share information.  

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP) announced a collaborative campaign to promote the establishment of makerspaces throughout U.S. libraries and museums. The IMLS has pledged over $400,000 in grant funds to support efforts on the part of individual libraries and museums to implement new programs as well as the creation of a community of practice, allowing experts to share knowledge, tools and resources. According to IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth, these grant funds will “enable museums and libraries to bring their unique spaces, expertise, and collections to the makers movement.”

One of IMLS’s primary partners in this new endeavor are the NCSU libraries.  SILS graduates and NCSU Librarians Adam Rogers (MSLS ’10), Emerging Technology Services Librarian; Brendan O’Connell (MSLS ’12), NCSU Fellow; Josh Boyer (MSLS ’99), Head, User Experience Department; and David Woodbury (MSIS ’09), Associate Head, User Experience,  have established a makerspace at the new James B. Hunt, Jr. Library and are planning a new makerspace for D.H. Hill Library. They have also coordinated several events inspired by the Maker Movement, including open workshops on 3D Printing, Arduino, and MaKey MaKey and an end-of-semester “Make Break” for students to explore electronics and let off steam during finals. At the recent 2014 North Carolina Maker Faire, which attracted over 6,000 makers and tinkerers to the State Fairgrounds, NC State graduates Austin Carpenter and Jonathan Gregory showed off a full-body 3D scanner they developed in collaboration with the NCSU Libraries, and librarians helped young makers design their own light-up LED badges using batteries and copper tape.

These new facilities and events have been so well-received that outside libraries and other information science entities regularly seek out the expertise of the SILS alumni who made them possible. For example, in December, Adam Rogers was invited to deliver a presentation on the process of launching makerspaces in academic libraries at the Association of College and Research Libraries. >