Makerspaces are the Future of School Libraries


When you envision a school library, you think stacks of books and old wooden tables. Traditional school libraries were underutilized and were losing popularity as a hub for a school’s students or teachers.

Today, you’ll hear a different story. Students are now excited to visit libraries, doing so during their lunch or even before or after school.  Teachers are excited to bring their classes to the school library to work on class projects and in general, circulation in libraries is on the rise.

So what happened? School libraries transformed into makerspaces.

In Laura Fleming’s first year as school librarian, she transformed her school’s library from a traditional library space, into a modern, fun makerspace.  She removed some old bookshelves, and created better seating arrangements.  Laura also allowed students to eat and drink in the library so that students could take advantage of the area during their lunch period. Over time, Laura made more improvements. High-top workspaces were added and an old table was transformed into a LEGO plate that allowed students time to use their creative juices to make something fun.  “Makerspaces are about creating a maker culture,” Fleming said. “It’s a mindset. It’s a toolbox at your disposal for reaching kids. That can be done in any space and on any budget.”  The school library is now a great space where students have the room and resources to complete their class projects and work on assignments creatively.

Interestingly, Fleming noticed that her more frequent guests to the new makerspace are the students who are the most uninterested in traditional curriculum techniques. Now instead of a quiet, restricted area – this new idea of a makerspace engages these students and gives them an outlet to be creative and learn.

With the rising popularity of makerspaces, schools around the country are realizing the school library can be at the heart of a broader digital transformation.

“It connects librarians to the strategic work of schools,” says Mark Ray, Director of Innovation and Library Services in the Vancouver Public School District in Washington. “It’s an opportunity for superintendents and IT leaders and librarians to be talking about the same thing and not working against each other.”

Ray is also a Future Ready Librarians lead with the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Alliance’s framework lays out 10 characteristics of Future Ready Librarians:

  • Design collaborative spaces
  • Build instructional partnerships
  • Empower students as creators
  • Curate digital resources and tools
  • Facilitate professional learning
  • Ensure equitable digital access
  • Invest strategically in digital resources
  • Cultivate community partnerships
  • Advocate for student privacy
  • Lead beyond the library

The focus of these 10 characteristics vary based on the needs of the students, as the main focus is to empower students as creators and it’s an area of education that is grabbing the attention of school librarians across the country.

(Story via Education Dive)