I am Sue Considine , so happy to be here today. When Jane asked me to join this panel, I eagerly accepted and dove into the IFLA trends report to understand how my perspective and experience might align with, support or conflict with findings in this report.
I literally cheered as I read Trend #1 , specifically this statement: The use of technical measures to prevent access to copyrighted content becomes outdated as new business models harness public enthusiasm for consuming, creating and modifying offer a broad range of content across different platforms and devices.
I would suggest , in support of and in addition to this observation, global interest in the DIY and sharing culture, the proliferation of disruptive technologies such as tools of Fabrication and manufacturing like 3D printing at the community level has resulted in a global resurgence of discovery activity such as creative inquiry, entrepreneurism and invention resulting in a renewed enthusiasm and interest , at very early and all ages in all demographics in 21st century literacies like digital literacies and STEM learning. All around us people are identifying and exploring their capacity to think like innovators and the Library is uniquely positioned to support this development. And we are already here! There is some type of public library platform in virtually every community around the world. We are an essential player in this informal learning ecosystem.
We have ALWAYS been making in Libraries!!! The tools, are all that have changed.
For my library, The FFL, the idea to integrate formal making initiatives into our service began in 2010, when we identified a gap in access to disruptive technologies in our community.
The FFL had a rich, long standing tradition of thinking outside of the box and taking the risks that are necessary to innovate and continuously evolve; constantly adjusting and pivoting so that our resources , activities and training are responsive to the ever changing needs, curiosities and opportunities that occur in our community.
Community members were curious about new disruptive technologies like 3D printers, just as they were curious about, for instance, the recent proliferation of mobile devices, the rapidly developing social networking movement, DIY culture, you get the picture, but had nowhere to go locally to access disruptive technologies or learn about them.
Fayetteville, NY certainly did not have a makerspace; even our larger neighboring city of Syracuse did not have one. In our area, 3D printers were only accessible to students enrolled in particular programs at nearby Syracuse University.
A student intern at the library noted the potential of the library to fill this gap in access to 3D printing technology. She developed a proposal to develop a space where 3D printing could happen within the library walls. At first, this may have sounded to some like a wacky idea, incongruous, at best: sort of something that didn’t really fit with traditional ideas of what a library should be.
But what we noticed were all the remarkable ways in which not just a tool like a 3D printer, but how community Making was a natural fit with the library’s existing mission and role in our community. So, as with all things FFL, we began to iterate on and beyond this original idea.
Most public libraries have a mission statement; a guiding idea that is a benchmark for all activity, budgeting , planning.
Ours is to provide “free and open access to ideas and information.” YES. Simple and elegant, by design, but when implemented at its fullest; profoundly impactful.
It is part of my facilitation role as the FFL Administrator to test any new idea that bubbles up in our organization against this mission statement before moving forward. Certainly, Making was a concept that I found to fit very closely with our mission; indeed, a natural extension.
If we were to develop a makerspace and related programming opportunities at our library, we would be the only organization locally to provide free and open access to maker technologies and the associated STEM learning that occurs with all making and the boundless information, skills and possibilities that they can unlock when combined with the two key ingredients – people and curiosity.
We saw the potential for making to play an important role towards our existing goals related to 21st Century literacy skills development, technology skills development, digital literacy skills development, economic development, lifelong learning, and community building.
Like many public libraries, our library strives to offer services and resources to help community members develop the skills they need to thrive in the modern economy. Many libraries have job search centers and small business centers. Many libraries purchase materials and online subscriptions to support individuals in their careers and businesses.
We saw that making could provide a new hands-on means to these ends, allowing patrons to develop the skills they need to start their own businesses, to get an invention crowdfunded, or to land jobs in industries such engineering, manufacturing, computer science and other technical, high-demand fields.
Libraries, as we all know, are concerned with supporting literacy skills in their communities. Traditionally, Literacy has been defined as the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential.
In the 21st century, however, achieving one’s goals and developing one’s knowledge and potential to the fullest means more than the ability to use printed and written information. A literate person must now possess a wide range of abilities and competencies - many literacies- including fluency with the tools of technology, digital literacy and STEM literacy skills. These types of skills need to be honed through hands-on learning.
To these ends, our library and others are embracing making as a means of supporting 21st century literacy skills development. We focus on helping our patrons develop STEM skills and proficiency with tools of technology- not only technologies like computers, the Internet, eBooks, and smart devices, but now also disruptive technologies like 3D printers and laser cutters. Indeed, to us, providing access and learning opportunities around these technologies is just another iteration of the existing role related to literacy and technology that we already traditionally play.
I can’t talk about making in libraries without talking about or STEAM literacy. The two are inextricably interconnected.
To further drive home the importance of supporting STEM literacy in libraries, I would like to quickly mention three things:
First, Due to technological advances, STEM jobs in the United States for example, in the past ten years, have grown at three times the pace of non-STEM jobs, and are projected to continue growing at this pace through the next decade. So supporting STEM strengthens local economies.
Second, Personal and societal decisions in the 21st century increasingly require scientific and technological understanding. Whether about health, the environment, or technology, a certain level of STEM knowledge is vital to informed decision making.
Third, as informal learning institutions, libraries have a unique opportunity to engage learners on their own terms. Studies have shown that for students, early interest in pursuing physical science or engineering careers is a better predictor of whether they will follow through with those careers than compared to peers with higher achievement, but lower levels of interest.
Furthermore, curiosity and enjoyment of science starting early in life has been shown to be integral to increased and continued engagement with STEM activities over one’s lifetime. So it’s up to libraries, who have no lesson plans to follow or tests to prepare our students for, to create FUN, interest-driven, hands-on STEM learning opportunities for our patrons of all ages.
Finally, It is important to mention, in the US, the national priority around STEM learning- For example Computer Science and Coding have become primary funding focuses of IMLS and the National Science Foundation. In February 2016, the President of the US announced his Computer Science for ALL Initiative. Libraries are perfectly positioned and certainly poised, at this transformational moment, to be key players at the community level in supporting STEM learning throughout an individuals lifetime.
In the US, More than ever, funding opportunities are available through local and national sources to support informal STEM learning and making. This is So critical- Libraries should be providing coding instruction for all ages, NOW.
Over the past 5 years, we at the FFL have found that making is a terrific avenue through which our community members can create and share 21st century knowledge and skills in an informal, participatory, interest-driven way. And countless libraries across the country have since moved in this direction, as well. In library makerspaces, patrons are inventing, innovating, discovering and developing new solutions. And, they’re developing the skills and relationships they need to flourish in 21st century life. The end result of embracing making at our library has been strengthening not only the library, but strengthening our community as a whole.
I am not sure who to attribute this to; I first saw this idea in Women's’ Agenda and most recently again in a Fast Company article:
Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask them what problems they would like to solve.
So, considering this idea, One way to get kids thinking about what they want to do in the future is by getting them to flex their entrepreneurial muscles; get them to start thinking like problem solvers, disruptors and system challengers.
Jana Matthews of StartUPAusonce said “We need many more people who can make a job rather than just take a job”. This is Compelling!
Not every child will want to become an entrepreneur. But exploring their core skills and its role in problem solving helps the principles of learning filter to the community around them- creating a sense of pertinence and relevance to their education. It build theirs confidence, not just for a career or a profession, but in their ability to face disruption head- on , armed with transferable skill sets.
Our Digital Creation Lab features technologies needed to make digital media, including a green screen wall, Mac and PC computers with creation software, podcasting equipment, photo and video equipment, and more.
This was Our first maker space. We had a goal to create informal learning opportunities around the library for the development of 21st century literacy and STEM skills. In order to create conditions for this learning to occur, we acknowledge that we had to re-imagine spaces in the library to make this goal a reality.
The FFL Fab Lab is our “Fabulous Laboratory,” where the community has access to digital and analog tools and technologies related to fabricating physical objects. This space includes 3D printers, a laser cutter, vinyl cutter, sewing machines, craft tools, hand tools, electronics equipment, STEM learning kits and more. Over the past 4 years we have certified thousands of people on the equipment in our Fab Lab.
The Fab Lab is for Physical fabrication and development of STEAM skills. It supports invention, discovery and entrepreneurship We had the goal to create a space of hands on making/fabrication of physical objects while supporting the development of STEAM skills. This is what we wanted to accomplish, however, This SPACE did not exist. As a result of our early experiences with mobile making , we developed a goal to create a permanent space for experiential, hands on learning.
Finally, our Little Makerspace is geared to makers ages 5-8. The space features kits, toys and supplies to encourage kids to get started with the maker mindset- discovering, designing, creating and building.
Little Makers supports 21st century literacy skills development
This space Promotes tinkering and fosters critical thinking at the youngest ages. At the FFL we have developed a continuum of STEAM learning and making experiences for ages 0-100. Once again, This Little Makers Space was initially used for something else; we re-imagined it.
In addition to countless individual inventors and entrepreneurs, the Fab lab also supports the efforts of local small businesses. Many companies in the area have found that we can be a valuable resource – and they in turn often share their expertise with us and with our community.
mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations have developed and flourished; these are relationships that have raised the profile of the library outside of our immediate community, in industries outside of our own.
Relationship with our local colleges and universities has proven to be invaluable. Students have ideas, cutting-edge knowledge, enthusiasm, and time. They are looking to gain experience. Many programs of study require volunteer hours or internships. We can serve as a place where they can take their ideas and enthusiasm and parlay them into something concrete. We can offer them the real-world experience they’re looking for, while they can bring fresh vision and knowledge to projects and move our programs forward.
Partnering with local businesses and organizations, as well as industry vendors, has been critical for gaining not only the things we’ve needed, but also tapping into local expertise and new audiences we were looking to reach. Through partnerships, we’ve been able to pilot new learning tools, services and products, and provide direct feedback to vendors and businesses in order help them remain relevant and help us gain access to the types of products we need to support our mission.
for-profit makerspaces, tech incubators, tech meetup groups are all excellent natural library partners, these are great organizations to reach out to and develop mutually beneficial relationships with. Maybe a maker meetup group exists in your community, and you can provide them a new venue where they can meet, plus promotion. Maybe a tech incubator has a listserv to post your volunteer opportunities. Maybe you want to partner with a for-profit makerspace, so you can provide referrals to each other’s complementary classes, programs and services. Maybe a local high school has regular internship project they are looking for host sites for. Any and all of these are examples of simple ways to develop mutually beneficial relationships can help move library maker initiatives forward.
Ultimately, Developing maker initiatives at our library has resulted in the support of skills and interest development, for all demographics, in all of the areas you see on the slide
Ifla42016 sc - considine
If Not For the Library
Making & STEAM in Public Libraries
Our Developing Mandate
IFLA President’s Program
Informal STEAM Education
Formal vs. Informal Learning
guided by interest
Libraries can and should provide fun
informal learning opportunities around
STEM subjects, because
Early interest in STEM is more of an
indictor than academic performance
(Tai et al. 2006)
Curiosity and enjoyment are integral
to engagement with STEAM (Hidi &
Adapted from Krishnamurthi, A, Ballard, M & Noam, G. (2014)“Examining the impact of afterschool STEM
programs.” Noyce Foundation. http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/documents/STEM/Rennie_Krishnamurthi.pdf
FFL Creation Lab
Our Digital Makerspace!
Digital content creation and STEAM skills
FFL Fab Lab
Physical fabrication and STEAM skills
STEAM learning opportunities through
programs, services and collections
Our makerspace for ages 5-8!
STEAM learning opportunities through programs, services
Discover. Create. Build.
Drop-in any time, or attend scheduled programs.
Invention, Entrepreneurship &
Local Small Business
Partnerships & Collaborations
Express Computer Services – Local print & copy company
3D Printer donation
Syracuse University – Interns and volunteers
CADimensions – Local manufacturing & engineering software/hardware sales company
Donation of Solidworks (3D modeling software) lab license
Webucator – National online tech learning company based locally
Library Partner program – free patron access to Self-Guided courses
Brodart, Innovative, BluuBeam, Treehouse
Syracuse Tech Garden – Interns and volunteers
YMCA, National Girls Collaborative, Girls IT,
+ STEAM & Making in Libraries
Support content areas:
* Archeology * Architecture * Astronomy * Biology * Chemistry * Computer
Science * Construction * Design * Digital media production * Digital
fabrication * Ecology * Electronics * Engineering * Geometry *
Manufacturing * Math * Physics * Programming * Robotics *
Supporting skills development:
* Problem solving * Teamwork * Critical thinking * Creativity *
Develops the capacity to “think like an innovator”
Making STEM topics and careers fun, interesting, cool and
Fayetteville Free Library
Fayetteville Free Library