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Mon, Nov 28 2016

View All Work » 01.A

LibraryLinkNJ Makerspaces

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The Client Need

LibraryLinkNJ is the New Jersey Library Cooperative, whose members are public, school, academic and special libraries statewide. For their makerspace initiative, LibraryLinkNJ partnered with the New Jersey State Library, and together they have helped libraries across the state build on their roles as advocates for verbal, cultural, and civic literacy. Many of their member libraries have everything from Arduinos to 3D printers to sewing machines and a diverse community of makers. They found themselves at a point where they needed to convene as a community to discuss their hurdles, accomplishments, and goals in order to push their efforts further.

They asked us to partner with them on a research and strategy project to:

  • Understand the diversity of the makerspaces that had been cultivated as a result of their initiative
  • Structure and facilitate a workshop experience for those managing library makerspaces within New Jersey
  • Help workshop participants develop practical community engagement strategies for leveraging their makerspaces and staff assets

Our Work

LibraryLinkNJ is a very talented team with a network of innovative librarians and library staff representing public, school, academic & special libraries. We had to focus on their needs as well as those of the makerspace community to know how best to structure and facilitate the workshop to achieve actionable takeaways.

  • Site visits
    We traveled to New Jersey to visit and observe two different library makerspaces. During this visit, we spoke with the individuals who were using the space and those helping to run it to better understand the progress that had been made and the needs that had surfaced.
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  • Interviews
    To understand how these makerspaces were being implemented, we conducted phone interviews with those who had been integral in running different types of makerspaces among LibraryLinkNJ’s member libraries.

  • Workshop
    We facilitated a four-hour workshop with 60 librarians from across the state who were maintaining makerspaces. Each workshop exercise was directly informed by our research findings and was crafted to help the LibraryLinkNJ makerspace community leverage each others’ ideas and strategize ways to overcome obstacles.

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The Outcome

"Dear Geoff and Colleagues, all of us at LLNJ are thrilled with how yesterday's program went." — Joanne P. Roukens, Assistant Director, LibraryLinkNJ

 
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Our work with LibraryLinkNJ resulted in the following:

  • Problem and solution identification
    In the interviews, we pinpointed challenges the makerspaces were facing and explored them further within the workshop. The exercises we facilitated surfaced new ideas and fresh perspectives for how to address these pain-points.

  • A more tight-knit librarian makerspace network
    We structured the workshop so that there was a balance of individual reflection and networking. By the end of the day, all participants had mingled or collaborated with one another, giving them new contacts to reach out to.

  • Compiled research findings
    We documented the key conversation topics and ideas that resulted from each activity in the workshop, as well as all the interview findings, so that LibraryLinkNJ could refer to these outcomes as they develop future plans.

  • Recommended next steps
    We took a comprehensive look at the research findings and workshop outcomes to suggest ways for New Jersey libraries to more effectively run and implement makerspaces.

Through our work, we brought renewed energy to the makerspace movement LibraryLinkNJ is nurturing and elevated their work with actionable next steps to strengthen their practice and broaden their community outreach.