Through our research we identified four common themes that describe the post-emergent phase of a library makerspace: Getting to Geeking Out, Finding Your Place, All Hands on Deck, and Running a Tight Ship.
These themes, which each contain identified problems that we as post-emergent library makerspaces experienced, constitute a framework that can help your library to identify whether or not it is in this phase of development. The case studies within describe how we tested, iterated, and worked through our problems of practice. The most exciting part of developing this framework was our own involvement in identifying challenges both in our local context, having them validated through observation and data sharing with each other, and having the support to take action and improve our programs. This framework now gives us a way to talk about this phase of a program’s development; it’s become our most powerful tool.
How can we get youth in our spaces to engage beyond the “hanging out” and “messing around” phase of HOMAGO? How can we design programs and spaces to encourage youth to dive more deeply in expert programs? The case studies in Getting to Geeking Out include developing project-based programs, dedicated program times in the space, and more.
How does a teen makerspace program relate to, and integrate with other more established departments in your library, like the children’s and adult department? And on a wider level, how does your program fit within the scope of your community and partner organizations? How does it relate to and learn from other similar library programs nationally? Finding Your Place describes the challenges around defining who you are and what services you provide, within your library and within your community.
When you’re running a really great program that’s getting a lot of attention, the first thing your library administration is going to expect is for you to spread the wealth through bringing your program to more branches, doing outreach, holding professional development opportunities, and more. Unfortunately, that expectation doesn’t always include adding more capacity, whether staff, resources or the like. All Hands on Deck is about the pressures we identified related to expanding program and supporting limited staffing capacity.
What are the processes you need to have in place to enable the youth you serve, and your frontline staff, to thrive? We identified the Running a Tight Ship theme when we discussed the challenges around providing relevant youth programs, expanding our programs, and supporting new administrative leadership and capacity building.