Recently, I completed an extensive quest to have a much better understanding of maker spaces. I conducted a full research guide it is attached here:
It is lengthy, for brevities sake, I will condense the takeaways of my research here.
I visited with different makers and maker space managers: Ridgeway Burns, of the Hinsdale Public Library; Billie Moffett, Director of Studio 270 of the Gail Borden Public Library; and Himanshu Trivedi, Digital Services Manager of the Aurora Santori Public Library. All of these spaces and management styles were entirely different. It made for very useful research for myself looking forward to my career as a librarian / Maker.
To begin, Hinsdale doing great work with very little space. Hidden away is their Digital Media Lab, often called the DML for short. It is home to video, image creating / editing equipment as well as musical recording (keyboard, mics) to record and then software to edit. The space only would hold 2 – 3 people comfortably seated. They run multiple tech programs monthly, including a couple by yours truly, see those resources here: hpltechhelp.wordpress.com. They also have a 3D Printer, the Maker Bot 2, and a vinyl cutter, the Silhouette Cameo.
Next, I visited Studio 270 with Billie Moffett. This is mostly a teen space to hangout, make crafts, read, play video or board games, and borrow laptop to do homework space. It is only for teens. They have an incredible “mine recording” studio as she referred to it. It also had video recording equipment available. This is working for their demographic, and she says their DML is booked solid for mostly vocal tracks for hip-hop musicians. This space has far too much equipment to list, and a space like this could be any range of costs. For more information about the DML equipment see their website.
The most challenging thing Moffett did explain is that she has quite a few disciplinary issues. She will often have to ask kids to leave the space for profanity. A couple of occasions of stealing have also occurred. The space has strict policies for all equipment borrowers to sign, detailing their information. This way the library is covered.
Finally I visited Aurora’s Santori Public Library. They have multiple levels of Digital resources. This facility, built in 2015, is abundant with image, video, music recording equipment, four different 3D printers (resin and PLA), a laser cutter, vinyl cutter, laminator, large scale plotter printer, digital editing stations full of any industry standard software you would imagine. There is so much available, but the staff have to be the ones to push the button. That is how this space hasn’t had any real issues with tampering or stealing, there has to be someone around patrons near equipment. There is no need for a library card, no need to sign anything, just come in and enjoy. I’ve included some photographs I took while in the space.
Maker spaces may seem to be mostly digital software or tech based, but there are almost endless applications that could be a part of the space: sewing, knitting, crafting, acting, robotics, engineering, electricity, music, design, book creating, it is really up to the user base.