Democratizing the Maker Movement: A Case Study of One Public Library System’s Makerspace Program

Alexandra Lakind, Rebekah Willett, Erica Rosenfeld Halverson

Abstract


The maker movement has found a home in public libraries. Field leaders including public libraries in Chicago, Chattanooga, Houston, Louisville, and Toronto have built robust makerspaces, developed maker programming for a diverse range of patrons, connected community experts with library users for the purpose of sharing information, and fostered communities of practice. Characterized by open exploration, intrinsic interest, and creative ideation, the maker movement can be broadly defined as participation in the creative production of physical and digital artifacts in people’s day-to-day lives. The maker movement employs a do-it-yourself orientation toward a range of disciplines, including robotics, woodworking, textiles, and electronics. But the maker ethos also includes a do-it-with-others approach, valuing collaboration, distributed expertise, and open workspaces. To many in the library profession, the values ingrained in the maker movement seem to be shared with the aims and goals of public libraries. However, critiques of the maker movement raise questions about current iterations of makerspaces across settings. This article highlights critiques and responses regarding the “democratic” nature of the maker movement, and in particular, the article analyzes ways librarians involved in a prominent public library maker program discursively construct making and maker programming in relation to the maker movement more generally.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5860/rusq.58.4.7150

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