Teen Librarian Toolbox
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The First MakerSpace Proposal

My Original Mobile MakerSpace for the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas

After researching MakerSpaces to write some blog posts here, Christie Gibrich and I recently put together proposals (which were approved) for Pop-Up Mobile MakerSpaces at our libraries.  We went with small, mobile and easy to take down and put away because we are both in smaller branch libraries that don’t have any floor space we can dedicate to a Makerspace.  Because sharing is what we do here, I thought I would share with you the proposal I wrote so you could “borrow” parts of it if you needed to or it worked for you.I have taken out some of the site specific wording.  This is also a reminder that Makerspaces don’t have to be big, elaborate redesigns of your library.  In fact, most children’s and teen librarians have been doing Makerspace activities for most of their careers.  It is also a reminder that there is, in fact, thought behind programming and why we do the things that we do: we have goals that benefit our patrons, our communities, and the futures of both.

Basic Overview

My goal is to create a Mobile Makerspace that can easily be brought out and put back away for library programming given our space restrictions.  For 2013 and 201,4 I want to focus on building with Legos, Duct Tape programs, and some simple hands on science programs and coding using Raspberry Pis.  I have already done some programs with Legos and Duct Tape and they have proven to be immensely popular, but in order to have this be an ongoing Makerspace we need to purchase a large back stock of materials and a mobile housing device to roll them in and out of our program room.  This will keep our program room open for other events but allow us to provide innovative, creative programming for our tweens and teens that taps into what we know from current research (outlined in the Background section of this proposal).


Research has shown that the thriving cities are those that engage in and have space to participate in the arts (see Fostering Creative Cities commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and “Rise of the Creative Class” by Richard Florida).  This is why many libraries are creating Makerspaces:

 Kids gather to make Lego robots; teens create digital music, movies, and games with computers and mixers; and students engineer new projects while adults create prototypes for small business products with laser cutters and 3D printers. Many libraries across the US have developed makerspaces—places to create, build, and craft—and they are experiencing increased visits and demand as a result. For public libraries, they are places to promote community engagement. For academic libraries, they are places where students and faculty feel welcome to do classwork and research.” (from American Library Association http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/manufacturing-makerspaces)

In addition, research shows that there are many personal benefits for those that build with blocks, like LEGOS.  The benefits include the development of:

Motor skills and hand-eye coordination

Spatial skills

A capacity for creative, divergent thinking

Social skills,

Language skills, and to

Practice science and math skills

For complete information, visit http://www.parentingscience.com/toy-blocks.html

And we know that when our kids succeed, our communities thrive and benefit.  

My Mobile Makerspaces in Action


With the supplies on hand and easily accessible, I would like to have a monthly Lego club and Duct Tape club on alternating days.  This provides us with built in monthly programming, creates a rhythm that allows our patrons to predict programming and build it into their schedules, and provides our tween and teen patrons an opportunity to explore their creative and problem solving skills in a safe and socially affirming environment.

This programming will not only create a regular traffic pattern for Grand Prairie libraries and help the city of Grand Prairie tap into the current research of creative cities, it will help tweens and teens meet several of the 40 Developmental Assets they need to be successful in life including:

Caring Neighborhood | Young person experiences caring neighbors.

Community Values Youth | Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.

Safety | Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.

Adult Role Models | Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.

Youth Programs | Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.

You can find out more about the 40 Developmental Assets here and here.

Materials and Cost

In order to make this a successful Mobile Makerspace, we would need to make the following initial investment.  There would be additional costs involved if we wanted to incorporate more hands on science or art activities in the future.


For the purpose of pricing this proposal, bulk kits were priced at Amazon.com.  These were the largest kits I could find.  Although they are often on sale, I am submitting the list price to make sure costs are adequately covered. (I am in the process of buying additional Legos for my MakerSpace. I have had upwards of 50 tweens/teens present and definitely need more Legos.) You can see some of the creations made here, here, and here.

  • LEGO Education Wheels Set item 779387 (286 pieces)  at $41.95
  • LEGO Education Brick Set 779384 (884 pieces) at $54.95 (quantity 4)
  • LEGO Education Doors, Windows & Roof Tiles Set 779386 (278 Pieces) at $40.95
  • LEGO Green Building Plate (size 10” x 10”) $4.99 (quantity 20)
  • Honey-Can-Do CRT-01683 12 Drawer Chrome Studio Organizer Cart at List $152.97 (purchase when on sale, currently on sale for $89.97)
  • LEGO Education Community Figures set List $49.95
  • In-House copy of The LEGO Idea Book (List $24.99)
  • In-House copy of The LEGO Play book ($20.00)

Total Cost of Legos:  $650.23 (at regular list price on Amazon.com)

Duct Tape:

Many schools and libraries currently have a “Duct Tape Club” because of the popularity of Duct Tape Crafts.  In fact, my own tween will often meet with her neighborhood friends and they have made Duct Tape wallets, flip flops, bags and more.  We recently had a Duct Tape craft series for National Craft Month (March) and it was very popular and well attended.

Duct Tape costs on average around $6.99 a roll.  50 rolls would cost around $350.00

If this program turns out to be extremely popular, and our one recent program indicates that it would, we would have to look at replenishing at some point. We can often get it on sale at good prices at Office Depot

Additional Supplies:

  • Dahle 9”x12” Vantage Self Healing Cutting Mat-Blue 10690 at $9.35 (You can’t cut Duct Tape with scissors) (quantity 5)
  • PhC Safety Cutter, Green at $5.54 (quantity 5)
  • Total Cost of Duct Tape Supplies: $424.45

Total Initial Proposal: Approximately $1,075.00

Here are pics from my first Makerspace Program

Here are some project/challenge ideas 

Here is the 2nd part of our Mobile Makerspace: Raspberry Pis

Also, since creating my mobile MakerSpace, I have added Rainbow Loom supplies and just a general plethora of craft supplies to my Duct Tape unit. I have also discovered the Duct Tape works really well when making Bottle Cap charms/magnets.

One Year Later, What I Would Do Differently and What I added

This year I bought some additional Lego kits that had a variety of different types of pieces. The initial bulk items I bought were largely bricks and building turned out to be harder with those. So I ordered some of the Lego 3 in 1 Creator kits to get more shapes and sizes of Lego pieces. I also bought a variety of Lego Minecraft kits which were not surprisingly hugely popular.

One of my teens favorite activities is to make stop motion movies using Legos. Here are a couple of posts about that:

Giffer App Review

First Kiss

Additional Resources

Libraries Embracing Makerspaces: http://makezine.com/2013/07/01/check-it-out-libraries-embracing-makerspaces/ 

Maker Stations Popping Up in Libraries Across the Country | At Your Libraryhttp://atyourlibrary.org/maker-stations-popping-libraries-across-country 

A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/a-librarians-guide-to-makerspaces/  

Is It Time to Rebuild & Retool Public Libraries and Make Them “Tech Shops”?

The Library as Incubator Project posts tagged “Makerspace”

ALA: Manufacturing Makerspaces

The Makings of a Makerspace

Library as Makerspace

Teen Makerspaces at Your Library

Making the Case for a Public Library Makerspace

Library Makserspace on Pinterest

Also, be sure to check out your August 2013 edition of VOYA Magazine. 

Heather Booth and The Robot Test Kitchen

As part of her ILeadUSA experience, Heather Booth has been blogging about her experiences incorporating more tech into her library teen programming. Take a look at her posts here:

Take 5: The Robot Test Kitchen Reading List

What’s Your Library’s Story? A Robot Test Kitchen Guest Post

Review: Squishy Circuits

True Confessions: My STEM program failed and it was not fun (but I still learned something)

Review: Racing Robot Learn to Solder Kit 

True Confessions: I Want This to be Easier

Touch Screen Gloves (from the Robot Test Kitchen)

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Instructions

We’re Not Faking It, We’re Making It

Check out more at the Robot Test Kitchen:

“We are the Techno Whats, a group of Youth Services and Teen librarians. We believe that when imaginations play, learning happens. We aim to use simple robotics as a means to expand our learning experience for other new technologies. Our goal is to provide an entry point of simple robotics in a way Youth and Teen Librarians can understand.”

Follow the Robot Test Kitchen @RobotTestKitchn (https://twitter.com/RobotTestKitchn)
Contact the Robot Test Kitchen:  RobotTestKitchen [at] gmail.com
Sometimes we Tumbl too: http://techno-whats.tumblr.com/

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