phase 2

After surveying Illinois libraries, we turned our energies toward prototyping - putting together test kits and selecting pilot libraries.

images of our test kits

We’ve started with 5 kits and 5 libraries:

The LittleBits Circuit Kit is currently being testing at Prospect Heights Public Library in Prospect Heights, IL. This mid-size suburban Chicago library has done some STEM programming in the past and they are currently using the LittleBits for an experiment table in their youth services department.

Our Silkscreening Kit went to the Fondulac District Library in East Peoria, IL. This being the messiest and most hands-on of the kits, we weren’t sure how a library might use it. Fondulac is planning a t-shirt design program with their teens.

The Robotics Kits (consisting of two sphero balls, two dot & dash, and a mini ipad) is being experimented with at the Champaign Public Library in Champaign, IL. This library serves a large community and is being used by the teen librarian. Their feedback so far has indicated that teens like to drive the robots around for fun and that the robots might work best in an open lab vs a structured program.

The 3D Printing Kit (with a Dremel Idea Builder) is spending the summer at Walnut Public Library in Walnut, IL. This is a very small, rural community and community interest in the 3D printer is building slowly. The librarian will be demoing the printer for summer reading participants.

The Silhouette Cameo Cutter is currently in use at the Villa Park Public Library in Villa Park, IL.

We are still in the testing and feedback stage with all our kits. For kits that are successful, we will purchase more copies, so that multiple kits can be circulated at one time. 

Prototyping Maker Kits

Back in March we surveyed over 300 Illinois librarians (327 to be exact) from all across the state to find out if they were even interested in the maker movement and our circulating maker kits. Thankfully, and as we expected, the answer is yes! And an overwhelming yes at that. 

 map of Illinois libraries that completed the maker kit survey

While 96 percent of respondents believe that the maker movement is relevant to libraries, only 49 percent sometimes (or frequently) host maker events at their library. 

 Libraries that host maker events

Of all respondents, 96 percent indicated that they were likely to use our circulating maker kits. 

 Libraries that indicated they would use our circulating kits

All this supports our assumption that librarians want to bring the maker movement to their libraries, but that there are gaps that need to be addressed in order to make this a reality for many of them. By putting the tools of the maker movement in their hands with little financial commitment on their part, we can make a big impact on closing this gap. 

Are Illinois Librarians Ready To Be Makers?

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