Maker Spaces and Books: It’s Not Either Or, It’s Both And

The other day a fellow librarian asked me if I had read a book yet and when I responded no, she replied, “oh that’s right, you’re all about making now, you don’t really do books anymore.” It has taken me a couple of days to process this information and to form a real response. The […]

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The other day a fellow librarian asked me if I had read a book yet and when I responded no, she replied, “oh that’s right, you’re all about making now, you don’t really do books anymore.” It has taken me a couple of days to process this information and to form a real response. The truth is, libraries have always been about more than books, and I as a teen services librarian have always been about more than books. It’s not an either or proposition, it’s both and.

I am about making.

I am about books.

These are not mutually exclusive statements.

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Before I had a Teen MakerSpace, I regularly did library programming for tweens and teens. It was an expected part of my job. I still do that programming, I just do it differently. I do it on a more continual basis. I have assistants (that part is pretty glorious actually). But the truth of it is, it’s still just programming. Every moment I spend in the Teen MakerSpace is comparable to every moment I previously spent doing a teen program.

I have also worked really hard to make sure and emphasize books in our Teen MakerSpace. Every station that we have, every activity that we do, must have a couple of books in the Teen MakerSpace Collection that supports it. We try to remember to pull these books out and put them on display right there near the station or activity. We use them. We encourage our teens to use them. Our Teen MakerSpace Collection goes hand in hand with everything we do in our Teen MakerSpace.

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But we don’t just promote nonfiction in our Teen MakerSpace, we promote our Teen Fiction collection as well. We put up displays, we promote our collection, we have “what staff are reading” walls, etc. We do RA, we talk about books with our teens, even while we are making. We have done displays on books that relate to making in any possible way, including Sci Fi, books about movies, books with teens who make films, books with teen hackers and coders, books with gamers, and more. There are a lot of ways you can pull books from your teen fiction collection into the space and cross promote both making and teen reading.

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The truth is, libraries are always evolving. Books have and will continue to be the core of what librarians do, what I do. But it has and never will be the only thing that librarians do, what I do.

I am about making.

I am about books.

And they both work together for the good of teens in the public library.

5 Ways to Incorporate Books into a MakerSpace

1. Buy nonfiction that corresponds to every station or activity that you do in your MakerSpace

Have a 3D printer? There are books for that. Coding, electronics, robotics, Legos and more. We have books on every topic. If you can do it in our teen makerspace, you can read a book about it.

2. Promote “making” related teen fiction in your makerspace

There are good YA books that feature teens as coders, hackers, gamers, film makers, music makers and more. In addition, almost any sci fi or survival book features technology or survival skills that can be related back to making. Think creatively and cross promote.

3. Put up a “What’s New” display in your makerspace

We have two actually. One is a wall in the Teen MakerSpace that just features book covers that we have printed out and put up. The other has the physical books so that they can be easily grabbed.

4. Put up a what staff is reading display

We use the same printed book cover on the wall format to keep up a what staff is reading display. All three Teen Services staff members share what books they are currently reading with any teen that comes into the space.

5. Talk to teens while making about books

I love to talk about books. And the glorious thing about making is that it’s pretty easy to have a casual conversation with a teen while you are doing it. So ask your teens, hey what have you been reading? What’s your favorite book?

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