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SWON News: SWON Weekly

A Maker Space, Unplugged

Thursday, October 23, 2014  
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
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Becky Reilly heads up Library Services at McAuley High School with paper and scissors in hand. McAuley is an all-girls, Catholic high school on the west side of Cincinnati. They have plenty of technology at the school–every student has a tablet, for a start. When she wanted to open a make space in the library, though, she looked at the students instead of Make Magazine.

"In an all-girl school, a lot is communicated through notes and letters, so something as simple as card-making gives the students an opportunity to play, tinker and express themselves artistically."

"The station was initially stocked by recycling, re-using and re-purposing materials students and staff had accumulated in their homes. From time to time, I pick up seasonal stamps, paper and stickers to supplement our standard card and paper stock, scissors, punches and assorted sparkles and doodads, but the station seems to replenish itself as students continue to supply leftover materials from projects created outside the library space."

There’s technology available for this work, too. With available computers, scanners and printers, students can mix in their own photos or other components. So it’s not that tech is barred. It’s just not required, not necessary to what they’re doing.

One of the great things about this is that students understand the purpose of the space and how to use it without an instructional session. Getting them started isn’t a miniature form of an investor’s pitch meeting or a STEM cheerleading session. They get it.

Looking ahead, Becky sees an opening to bring in more tech, perhaps of the 3D-printer type. What she’s built now is an engaged community of makers, and that’s a fantastic place to start.

Making news with maker spaces - November 13th

It’s easy for conversations about maker spaces to turn into discussions of what tech you ought to buy. How much money you’d need, how much space you’d need to set aside. Maker spaces come in lots of shapes and sizes, and they’re already here in southwest Ohio.

SWON’s Fall Luncheon is a great chance to hear from those makers. And you can talk to other librarians and hear what they and their patrons are doing, whether they call it a maker space or not.

Maker spaces aren’t out of reach. Learn how close at hand they are when we meet in Hamilton in November. Sign up today!

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