Week 10 – Academic Library Makerspace

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Makerspaces are becoming a program that library’s are expected to have in some capacity. The concept revolves around providing a space and assets that individuals can use in creative ways. Libraries have always been establishments of collaboration and creativity promotion. Although makerspaces outside libraries are unique facilities within a library they are just an extension of what a library would normally offer.

Implementing a makerspace into an academic library has a number of challenges that are distinct from other libraries. Fourie & Meyer in their paper “What to make of makerspaces” discuss that makerspaces in academic libraries need to not only be social spaces but also ones that promote learning opportunities that are aligned with extending knowledge and disseminating new knowledge and experiences. Academic libraries therefore need to implement makerspace not simply as creative zones but ones where subject learning is a core component of the program.

Curtin University used a pop up makerspace to analyse the benefits and the potential for a permanent makerspace. It found that incorporating new technologies into the makerspace did indeed find interest however the use of them was limited. Individuals required encouragement to use such devices such as 3D printers. From the reflection it looks like Curtin used a number of technologies and creative spaces to engage with students not as a program but more to understand how the space would function and engage with students. The use of items like 3D printers was limited as there was no set learning program behind the equipment.

Curtin University

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Lee in her report “Campus-Library Collaboration with Makerspaces” found makerspaces offered an opportunity for libraries to engage with students that may not usually use library services by building a more accessible program. It made a good observation that a makerspace needs to be utilised in a manner that matches specific needs of students on campus. It also needs the ability to be dynamic and constantly changing as new subjects and technologies become more popular to use.

Implementing a makerspace in an academic library is a complex task. Using QUT as an example, it would need to take into account the four branches at Kelvin Grove, Gardens Point, Caboolture and the Law Library. It would need to also follow the QUT strategic plan as well as The QUT Library Collection Development Manual (CDM). Some of QUT’s strategic goals include:

  • Measurably strengthen our teaching quality and learning outcomes
  • Build QUT’s reputation as a selectively intensive research university
  • Develop a sustainable and highly capable workforce profile
  • Build further QUT’s sense of community

3D Printing

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Academic library makerspaces have great potential. But introducing them requires stakeholders from library to individual schools to be included to ensure the library is still a neutral ground for all departments. A good example of a potential roadblock is 3D printing. The are a diverse range of technologies available. Different technologies may be suitable for different schools:

  • Stereolithography
  • Digital Light Processing
  • Fused deposition modeling
  • Selective Laser Sintering
  • Selective laser melting
  • Electronic Beam Melting
  • Laminated object manufacturing

The benefits for school of design and engineering students are obvious but what function does 3D printing have academically for other schools?