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Maggie Melo co-authors book on cultivating inclusive, equitable makerspaces

Maggie Melo, Assistant Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), and Jennifer Nichols, Digital Scholarship Librarian at the University of Arizona, have co-authored a new collection that captures how librarians and educators have disrupted and re-made their makerspaces in response to the constraints of the predominant “maker culture.”

Maggie Melo and the cover of her book "Remaking the Library Makerspace"
SILS Assistant Professor Maggie Melo and the cover of her new book.

Re-making the Library Makerspace, published by Litwin Books and Library Juice Press in November, offers readers a critical examination of library makerspaces at the site of praxis: theory, reflection, and action.

The book is comprised of four sections: (1) Who belongs in the makerspace? (2) Power and Critical Theories; (3) Movement, Empathy, and Inclusion in Makerspaces; and (4) Counternarratives and Re-imagined Makerspaces: Policies, Procedures, and Culture.

According to the publisher’s description, the Maker Movement has “popularized a narrow, classist, predominantly white, and heteronormative conceptualization of maker culture. Makerspaces, like libraries, are not neutral, but rather are imbued with ideologies stemming from Silicon Valley that consequently dictate who makes, why making occurs, and what is considered making.”

In their book, Melo and Nichols examine the limitations and challenges emerging from this brand of maker culture, and highlight the critical work that is being done to cultivate anti-oppressive, inclusive and equitable making environments.

Topics explored in the book include STEM-rich maker activities in public rural libraries that do not rely on the costly, high-threshold technologies often associated to makerspaces and the problems with representation as the sole indicator of success of diversity and inclusion efforts.