Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: The Making of a Manual

In the February 2016 issue of School Library Journal, I share in an article titled Small Tech, Big Impact my journey in creating a small Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio. In addition to creating the space itself, I was equally excited to organize and put together a manual for my MakerSpace. This is not an exaggeration, I have been known to pet it while it sits at my desk. It’s not weird, I swear. It’s just, as someone who loves planning and organizing, such a crowning achievement of this space and journey. I mean, this manual is super organized and epic. Okay, maybe it’s a little weird how much I love this manual. But it’s not just a manual, it the embodiment of a challenging and exhilarating professional journey.

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It’s not much on the outside, though I could get one of those cool notebooks that allow you to make a cover and do so. (Note to self: do this ASAP).

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But it’s very useful – at least to me – on the inside.

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It’s divided into 5 main parts.

Part 1: YA Services 101

The Teen MakerSpace is part of our overall YA Services plan, so in this section I include a basic plan overview, information about our YA social media, and a teen collection outline. I wrote about and provide examples of all of these elements in the ALA Editions book I edited with TLTer Heather Booth titled The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services (2014). I actually used my examples as a starting point and adapted it for this library in this community.

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Part 2: The MakerSpace General Overview

In this section, I include the initial MakerSpace proposal, an outline of all the various media that we have, and an outline of all the apps that we have for our iPads. I also included an inventory checklist and any information that may be necessary for re-ordering. The button makers and 3D pens, for example, require us to keep certain supplies re-stocked and it includes information on what and where to order these supplies. There is also an opening and closing checklist in this section. Although our Teen MakerSpace is always open, some of the items are only brought out when a staff member is present in order to help protect more delicate or higher cost equipment. These items are kept on a rolling storage cart so that they can easily be moved in and out of the space.

Part 3: The MakerSpace Station Instructions

In this section, I scanned in or downloaded the various instructions for each component that we purchased. There are the instructions for littleBits, Dot and Dash, Ollie and more. There are instructions for each app that we highlight on our iPad stations. There are guides for doing stop motion animation and green screen photos. If it is a part of our Teen MakerSpace, the instructions can be found here. There are also step by step examples of any of the crafts we have in the space and duplicate copies of all signage in the area. I have all of this saved onto a file as well so that I can keep them easily updated or replace any lost or damaged copies. I found that a lot of the instructions could easily be found in PDF form on the Internet to download, save and print.

Part 4: Circulating Maker Kits

A popular part of our Teen MakerSpace are our Circulating Maker Kits. We have age appropriate kits on both the children’s floor and in the Teen MakerSpace. This section contains an inventory of each kit, including ISBN numbers and any links to support materials that we may provide. Because the kits contain a variety of items, including books, thing a ma bobs (technical term, I promise) and handouts, we had to create an inventory sheet to place in each circulating backpack so that staff knew what to look for when checking the item out to a patron. These inventory sheets also help us know what topics we have covered when we look to make additional kits, and our CMKs have been so popular that we do in fact hope to add more.

Part 5: The Maker Collection

Because we care very much about books, we have included a collection of “Maker” books in our Teen MakerSpace. In fact, we have booth a Juvenile Maker Collection and a Maker Collection with age appropriate materials on each floor. In this section we have a bibliography of our collection so we can keep it stocked, order replacements, and keep an eye on new materials for subjects we may have gaps in.

There is technically a 6th section which includes the MakerSpace Assistant job description. We are looking to hire an assistant to help staff the space so we have it more fully available to the teens in our community for more hours a week.

This manual is the culmination of a lot of hard work and research. It was fun, it was challenging – and to be honest, it is and always will be something that is in process. I promise I’ll stop petting the manual soon. Probably.

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