By Kari Paulson, Vice President, Market Development – Books
“Change is needed to better meet the needs of students,” a librarian from a community college in Illinois said in a ProQuest survey in progress, summarizing a thought shared by many of the 400+ librarians who responded about their space reclamation priorities.
These librarians feel reclaiming space previously dedicated to traditional print collections to offer more collaborative workspaces is key to evolving their libraries’ offerings. Since the Fayetteville Public Library pioneered the concept of makerspaces in libraries in 2011, we’ve known that this trend was here to stay, in public spheres and beyond. After all, the way that our users interact with information is changing – it’s active and that goes for the academic research happening in our colleges and universities as well.
More than 35% of libraries surveyed plan to offer a maker/hacker space and 78% are reclaiming shelf space to offer some other form of collaborative space or lab. Most of these libraries are dealing with the challenges of such an innovative plan: determining the space to reclaim, curating collections to support the range of topics of interest to makers, finding funds to invest in cutting-edge technology – pressing when you consider that librarians need to be able to easily prove return on investment for every choice they make.
So, the question is: is it worth it? Academic libraries are still saying yes. Here’s why:
1. Makerspaces prepare students for lifelong success.
According to the ACRL, makerspaces provide students with an opportunity to acquire critical thinking and problem-solving skills – the skills that students need to solve real-world problems. Pairing these skills with the cutting-edge technologies that will guide what manufacturing will look like in the future provides a unique opportunity for exploration and preparation that can give students a leg up as they venture into the working world.
2. Makerspaces support cross-disciplinary learning.
Work Design Magazine agrees that makerspaces are leading the way towards better, more applicable education. “Schools throughout the 20th century were often inflexible, didactic silos of disconnected learning, abstracted or even removed from real world issues,” the magazine states. By moving from the traditional classroom to labs filled with 3D printers, laser cutters and the latest technology, students are not only more engaged but are able to discover interests that a traditional classroom might not have sparked.
It’s not solely about the technology, though. As Ian Roy, research technology project director of the Brandeis University MakerLab in Waltham, Massachusetts told American Libraries, “A lot of it is not what you make in the room but what you discover in that room. I see that as a future value for libraries.” Knowledge, like technological tools, is shared in these spaces.
3. Makerspaces prove that you’re willing to evolve to support your community.
Librarians live and die by a clear ROI and an easy-to-prove connection to the community that they serve. A willingness to evolve proves continued relevance. Makerspaces are trending and by being willing to innovate what they offer, reclaiming space from traditional shelves and print collections to offer new technology, libraries make it clear that they are here to stay and can compete with emerging providers of resources. They see you, Google, and raise you free access to the latest technology.
Because 55% of libraries who offer or plan to offer makerspaces expressed that they would find it helpful to have an ebook collection that supports the makerspace curricula, ProQuest is launching two new collections to do just that:
- Safari Makerspace Collection includes approximately 50 titles from publishers such as Maker Media, Que and CRC Press. Larger packages of approximately 100 titles focused on business and technology are also available. Chosen by our on-staff librarians to support research on these topics, titles include Wiley’s Key Performance Indicators: Developing, Implementing, and Using Winning KPIs, 3rd Edition, Kogan Page’s Business Ethics, Packt Publishing’s Python Machine Learning and O’Reilly Media, Inc.’s Learning Spark.
- ProQuest Makerspace SELECT features more than 100 titles from IGI, Maker Media, Inc., Packt Publishing, Apress, O’Reilly Media and others covering technical skills like 3D scanning and printing, machine design, programming and project management.
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