Turning dead space into “ThinkSpace”

Megan O’Brien, University of Sydney

Concurrent session 13

Thursday 16 February 2017, 11:00am – 11:25am


The University of Sydney Library launched the inaugural ThinkSpace in early 2016. By attending this presentation you will be taken on a journey from dead space to ThinkSpace, outlining the strategic thinking, challenges and successes in prototyping this new concept.

The University of Sydney Library inherited an area above one of our main libraries that came with issues such as size and the location. We have been able to turn these challenges into an opportunity to maximise the utilisation of the space so that it aligns with the strategic objectives of both the Library and University in helping to future proof the Library in a fun and exciting way.

In line with current thinking on future academic library trends we knew that makerspaces were on the short term horizon as an emerging trend (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015). After reviewing existing makerspaces in public libraries we decided to establish a slightly different model that provided more opportunity to experiment and collaborate with the ultimate goal of driving innovation.

The library had also spent some time rethinking our strategy in order to better position ourselves to contribute to University-wide institutional goals (University of Sydney, 2016) and to our profession as a whole. Two of the main pillars of the Library’s strategic plan are to “Provide a thinkspace” and “Facilitate collaboration & creation” (University of Sydney Library, 2016). We decided to create a hybrid makerspace that combined these two objectives and “ThinkSpace” was born.

1. Introduces people to new and existing technologies and ideas they may not have experimented with before in order to support innovation,

2. Facilitates collaborative opportunities between disciplines,

3. Acts as a showcase for experimental design.

The space has a 3D printer, 3D scanner, high end Mac computers equipped with Adobe Design Suite and drawing pads, a BB8 programmable droid, Google cardboard VR viewer and a Carvey tabletop 3D carving machine. In development is a small one button recording studio.

ThinkSpace is a new and growing initiative aimed at inspiring and encouraging creativity. The space is still growing but already we have garnered the interest of many students, student clubs and academics alike. Students are excited about the space and using play and experimentation as a way to learn and share knowledge.

We’ll share insights from attendance at workshops as well as some of the fabulous things we’ve created along the way.

The Library has taken an unloved, underutilised space and turned it into a vibrant ThinkSpace to help future-proof the library in a fun, creative and collaborative way, so come along and be inspired!

Paper - Available now.

Presentation - Available now.


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