Sunday, December 30, 2012

Webinar: Makerspace @Detroit Public Library

The HYPE Makerspace at Detroit Public Library is located in the main library in the teen center. It is for ages 13 to 18. The space is 4,000 square feet.

DPL had been doing crafting and making programs with Handmade Detroit, but didn’t know how to take it to the next level. Staff attended a Maker Fair in Detroit and were inspired. It was also a great way to discover community partnerships such as Mount Elliott Makerspace, Futuremakers, the University of Michigan Design department, and the Hub of Detroit bicycle shop and to benefit from their experience and recommendations. DPL also received a grant from the Making the Future initiative in New Jersey.

DPL decided to wait on expensive equipment such as 3-D printers or laser cutters and start small.

Some of their makerspace programs:

  • Bicycle repair and maintenance
  • Art projects such as stencils, wood block printing and silk screening
  • Sewing --repairs and creating a fabulous outfit
  • Soldering basics
  • Building audio amplifiers
  • Creating robots with Arduinos

Tips for makerspaces:

  • Programs work best if everyone is in a circle
  • Ventilation is important
  • Turn off computers so teens don't get distracted
  • If you get the leader of a teen peer group to come, the rest will follow
  • Mentors who aren't teachers can inspire -- teachers who aren't experts can learn
  • Don't define a makerspace with specific workshops or activities
  • Give mentors power & ownership -- share budget
  • Do process of choosing programs slowly -- "date" before you commit
  • You don't need to do everything -- find areas of concentration based on community interest
  • You don't need a ton of money
  • Make barriers to entry as low as possible
  • Having special events builds pride in patrons’ accomplishments and make more people want to get involved

DPL started with an 8-week summer camp. They held meetings with instructors & teen volunteers to discuss safety & loss of materials. At the end, they held meetings with instructors & asked teens to fill out evaluation forms at the end. Two of their teens were selected to attend the World Maker Fair in New York City, with all expenses paid. The teens learned new terms and software they didn't know about and were inspired to study for jobs they had never thought of before. For one project, they helped seniors digitize documents, recorded audio interviews, then made a movie using iMovie software.

Where to find mentors:

  • Library staff
  • Local businesses
  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Local hackerspaces & hobby clubs
  • Senior and retiree organizations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Host and publicize an event to attract mentors

DPL likes to think of a makerspace as a garden and makerspace leaders as gardeners. They try to be more of a “guide on the side than a sage on the stage”. Every maker/hacker they’ve contact so far has been enthusiastic about working with libraries. The most common complaint from patrons is that their should be more programs for adults and younger children.

A recording of the webinar is available here.

--Andrea @Central

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