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Circulating Maker Kits: A Twist on Library MakerSpaces

makerspaceThe Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County is a small to medium sized library in a fairly conservative and small(ish) Midwest town. It’s landlocked and there isn’t a lot of floor space to revamp into a MakerSpace. But that doesn’t mean we can’t encourage Makers. So in order to better incorporate the Maker movement into our library, we have done or are doing 3 things:

1. Mobile MakerSpace

As I mentioned, space is most definitely an issue. So we created a mobile makerspace. You can read the details about that here.

2. Circulating Maker Collection

We are creating a maker collection of circulating books. We have a space picked out for it, have discussed call numbers and location codes with technical services, so now all we need to do is order. We started by using the recommended Maker titles in the May 2015 issue of School Library Journal. Then I made a wishlist of titles on Amazon. My wishlist ended up being 160 titles long, and I’m sure we already own some of them, but we’ll be going through the list with a fine toothed comb to refine it and choose the most current and relevant titles. There will also be titles that we can pull from our existing collections and re-home in the Maker collection.

Some of the topics we will be including are:

  • Coding
  • Electronics
  • Robotics
  • Engineering
  • Animation
  • Movie Making
  • Photography
  • Sewing
  • Music Making

3. Circulating Maker Kits

The final piece of the puzzle for us will be to create Circulating Maker Kits (CMKs). This is not too big of a stretch for PLMKC because they already circulate early learning kits that have a variety of toys, puzzles and books on a specific topic that circulate in a clear backpack. For example, they have a kit on vehicles which includes some large toddler play cars, books on cars, etc. We will adapt this idea for our CMKs.


For a test run, we have decided that we will create 10 CMKs. Five will be early readers/ school age and five will be Tweens and Teens.

For example. one of our topics is going to be robots. For the early age CMK we will have a few robot titles, like Bot + Boy by Amy Dyckman, stacking robots, and a build a robot toy that is age appropriate:


For the Tween/Teen version of the same theme, we will be including several age appropriate books on robots, a Recycled Robots kit (it has the main components for making a robot and you use materials from around the home to complete it), and perhaps some brush bot pieces. If we buy the Brush Bot kit from Makershed we will have multiple packs that we can easily throw in to a kit each time it circulates. As you can see, we’re still working out the details.


Other topics we are looking at making kits for include:

1. Legos – For example, we can include the Lego Chain Reactions book (pictured above) and some various Lego activities that we find on line and print and laminate them for the pack.

2. Engineering – We have the Strawbees AccuCut die pack so this would be easy to keep filled. I wrote about that previously here.


3. Rainbow Loom – There are several Rainbow Loom books. We would include a basic loom, a Monster Loom, and a hook. We’re still trying to figure out if we will get a bulk number of bands and just keep replacing them or require patrons to supply their own.

4. Electronics – We will include some books and a small Snapcircuits pack.

We have done a little bit of research and some other libraries are circulating maker kits. They include things like a Spirograph, Goldie Blox, etc.

The Basics

For circulating purposes, each kit will include a laminated checklist of the items in the pack so that circulation staff can make sure all the pieces and parts are all there when they check them in. And because we want to keep replacement costs down, we are looking at minimizing the costs of the items contained in each pack. Patrons will be charged the cost of any lost or damaged items, which is another reason to keep costs down. We do not live in a rich community so we want to provide the resources for our community but not put them in a huge financial bind.



  1. Mobile makerspace is a brilliant idea. Some urban houses are just too small and this is goes a long way in helping make use of all the available space. Thankyou for sharing.

  2. Thanks for linking to my blog post! I’ve made Goldie Blox circulating kits, and I just released paper circuits with Interactive Nursery Rhyme pages. Q-Ba-Maze marble maze blocks are next, and students already love building with them in the library. 🙂

    • Karen Jensen, TLT Karen Jensen, TLT says

      Hi! When I was doing research I stumbled across your post and it had some of the exact information I was looking for so thank you very much.

  3. I loved this idea so much that I applied for a STEM grant and was awarded the money to start a similar program! One question . . . do you have patrons sign any sort of user agreement regarding the return of materials? Or do just check them out and hope for the best? Thanks in advance for any advice you might have!

    • Karen Jensen, TLT Karen Jensen, TLT says

      For us it is just like any other circulating items. We have an amount in the record for each items and if they don’t return the kit or an item in the kit they are charged and it goes right on their patron account. If it exceeds our maximum amount then they aren’t allowed to check out or use computers until they settle their account with us.

      Congratulations on your grant!

  4. Thanks so much for your Very informative and excellent posts! T

  5. Thanks Karen. This a great Idea that everybody should support

  6. HI, I am wondering if you have a recommendation on the most durable bags for the circulating kits.

  7. Hi Karen, Could you update us on how the circulating maker kits are working out? Are all of the items in the kit being returned? Is there anything you would have done differently?

    • Karen Jensen, TLT Karen Jensen, TLT says

      For our Tweens, the circulating maker kits are working well.

      The Teen ones stopped circulating for us once we created our Teen MakerSpace, so we disassembled them and added the items individually to our TMS.

      The only thing I would really do differently is research the items in the kits a little bit more before putting them in there. The paper monsters, for example, are not my favorite.


  1. […] June 2015 – Thanks to Teen Librarian Toolbox and The Daring Librarian for the shout-outs about my circulating maker kits in their recent blog […]

  2. […] June 2015 – Thanks to Teen Librarian Toolbox and The Daring Librarian for the shout-outs about my circulating maker kits in their recent blog […]

  3. […] June 2015 – Thanks to Teen Librarian Toolbox and The Daring Librarian for the shout-outs about my circulating maker kits in their recent blog […]

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