Makerspaces in libraries – STEAMing with potential

Tania Barry and Karen Miller, Curtin University

Concurrent session 13
Thursday 16 February 2017, 10:30am - 10:55pm


Over the last 12 months, makerspaces have become an important means for both public and academic libraries to engage with the community, entering as additional services or programs to what is currently on offer.  The next major step forward for makerspaces in libraries is to incorporate more STEAM principles into programs and services.  Connecting programs and services to science, technology, engineering, arts and maths has become a particularly popular topic for discussion.   This has led to many library staff asking the following:

  • What do STEAM programs and services look like?
  • How does STEAM fit within my library’s existing goals and programs? Can we build and develop what we already have?
  • Can STEAM programs be offered without specialised training?

This presentation will address these questions by comparing and contrasting the STEAM programs and services in a public and academic library setting, using examples from the makerspaces at Hume Libraries and Curtin University Library. It will start with what STEAM is, before discussing ideas for creating programs and events from the ground up, as well as building and developing what is currently on offer to incorporate STEAM principles.     

Solicited feedback from individuals and key stakeholders will be used, as well as experiential evidence-observation of interaction, use and program development in libraries and their makerspaces.  Interviews will be conducted with relevant library staff who have involvement in the development and use of makerspaces.

The experiential evidence shows that there is widespread interest from the community in STEAM programs running in library makerspaces and that libraries are meeting a range of the community’s learning needs by engaging with them through these programs.  While sharing many similarities, public and academic libraries are shown to have different objectives in running these programs.  Examples and outcomes will be discussed, as well as partnerships that have been developed.  The interviews with relevant library staff will give information on the impacts on our positions in our respective organisations as well as development of staff skills. 

There is rapidly growing interest in applying STEAM principles to designing programs and services in Australian libraries.   The examples of Hume Libraries and Curtin University Library demonstrates that both public and academic libraries have important, but different, roles in engaging with the community  to foster the development of 21st century skills through STEAM programs and services in the library makerspace

Presentation - Available now.

Paper - Not available.


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