The Space-less Makerspace

One of the toughest mental blocks of the maker movement in libraries is that word we hear round and round: makerspace. It conjures up images of wood shavings on the floor, sparks flying from an anvil, machines buzzing, tools hammering, goggles and stripped wires and a poured concrete floor and, at a bare minimum, four walls and a door. Even if your library staff is on board the maker movement, the simple fact is that most libraries nowadays are not in the financial position to invest in a comprehensive makerSPACE. And you know what? That's okay.

Chicago-area makerspace Pumping Station One shows us how it's done.

Because despite all the making that might happen there, a makerspace isn't really a converted study room, or a repurposed janitor's closet, or a donated trailer, or heck, even a gloriously funded renovation project with all the traditional trappings of the makerspace. A makerspace is anywhere creating, collaborating, converting or computer crushing is happening. It's not about the gear, however nice it would be to have that 3D Printer or Laser Cutter. A makerspace is the place where the LED lights up a tinkerer's expression of exhilaration and accomplishment. It's the place where an idea turns into a thing. A makerspace is the distance between your head and your hands.

At my library, there is no designated space for our new 3D printer. We don't have an extra room sitting around unoccupied (who does?) nor do we have the funds to create one. So here our equipment sits, out on the main floor, a seemingly tiny space-less makerspace:

Is that a makerspace? Sure!

And perhaps like the MakerBox Replicator 2 itself, having no walls to define our little makerspace is not such a bad thing. Maybe it seems random to have this machine in the middle of the library floor, but maybe it's a way to bring the making to the people. It's impossible not to walk past this thing and wonder. Sure enough, the curious patron steps forward to the reference desk: "So, can I use that thing?" And perhaps with a wall and a closed door dividing the gear from the go-getters, the curious would keep quiet.

Even without the fancy trappings, makerspaces are anywhere you want them to be. From toddler storytimes to senior clubs, how are you redefining makerspace in your library?