We were very happy to provide quotes and pictures for a topic that is very close to our heart for School Library Journal!
I always feel a distant sort of sadness when I see Buzzfeed style list posts about the dozen most beautiful libraries, or other such lists because they reinforce the idea that books and buildings are what make up a library. It’s completely true that a physical space and a collection are necessary for a library to exist, but the context (community, history, overall setting) and the people (librarians, community organizations, patrons) make up much more of the library-as-imagined.
With all that said here’s a list of seven lessons (to represent the seven different places our team went this summer) I learned from traveling all over Michigan, focusing on the context and the people:
- There are smart, very active librarians all over Michigan who are deeply in touch with their community. They are running programs and regularly adjusting for needs that come up within their communities.
- Librarians are interested in reaching out to the people in their community who aren’t there. They are reaching out and doing the work to identify the people who aren’t coming through the doors.
- Librarians love to tell stories — about their impact, their patrons, successful programs they’ve run. Our workshops were heavily seasoned with these stories, and of course we repeatedly shared the ones we heard!
- Community members can be spark plugs for change, and librarians can identify these people. The community members we met through our workshops were dedicated to improving their communities and many of them have the time and commitment to make change happen.
- The Maker Movement is defined by the people who are doing the moving. In the rural setting, we’ve seen the physicality and creativity shine through over technology much of the time. Librarians learn from teachers and are able to implement learning activities that teachers don’t always have time for.
- People of all ages hunger for programs emphasizing making, creativity, and agency. While following a set of instructions can be great, injecting the stale directions with a bit of individual flair, or better yet, having a challenge that can be solved in a multitude of ways can be extremely empowering for people of all ages.
- Librarians in conjunction with communities can solve many problems, including small scale economic development. There’s much more thinking to be done on this topic, but we think that libraries in rural settings can be agents of change for younger entrepreneurs to take their first steps. By combining the impact of fellow entrepreneurs, Kristin likes to say that they can be “amplifying” forces.
That’s all from me on the topic of the summer. Thanks to everyone for their hard work this summer! It couldn’t have happened without all of you! Stay tuned for more events this fall, including time at local Ann Arbor schools!
The summer is coming to an end, and with it, my time traveling with the Making in Michigan team to rural libraries in Michigan to hold professional development workshops for librarians and educators. It has been a long and fruitful summer for me. The overwhelming feeling I have from this time is that I am so thankful to all of the amazing librarians I met this summer, who invited us into their spaces and shared their experiences with us. I learned so much from them and definitely gained some insight into perspectives that library school doesn’t give me access to. The passion and the energy that so many librarians and library workers bring to their work, who will fight to give their communities the best resources and programming, was frankly inspiring. I hope to be able to carry over that same passion into my own work.
Often when we talk about innovative and important library programming, we look to the big libraries – Chicago, New York, Ann Arbor, Sacramento, and the like – but what have learned this summer is that, those those institutions are doing good work as well, we are missing out on a big opportunity by not looking closer at the smaller libraries that have less resources. The programs I saw there were innovative and accessible, more so than many of the programs at larger libraries. I think that we in library school fall into the assumption that excess breeds innovation, but I think it’s quite the opposite. Excess can produce innovation, but scarcity demands it.
So that’s what I want to leave this internship with – a fire in my soul and a grateful heart. Thank you to every one of the people who came out to our workshops and shared their talents and thoughts with us. And thank you to the Making in Michigan Team for letting me be part of it for this short time in my life. The lessons I have learned here will definitely affect how I approach my career from this moment on, and all for the better.
We had a great time in Benzonia this week!
The first day we had our Making Makers Learning: Intro to the Maker Movement workshop, with some great discussion!
The second day we had our Selling Handmade Goods Online workshop, where we discussed the business end of craft businesses, followed by our Fashion Hacking workshop. It was really great to see the diverse projects that people made during our fashion hacking time, and people really went out of their way to help each other, it was a great workshop!
That evening we hosted a Maker Fest open to the public and had stations such as glass etching, button making, paper puppets, and crochet. It was great to see the kiddos engaged and enjoying themselves with all of the activities!
Thanks to everyone at the Benzonia Public Library for hosting us and to everyone who attended for their thoughtful contributions! Have a good fall everyone!
We had a great final workshop in Houghton Lake by learning more about the usefulness of Design Challengs for libraries and schools.
We started by introducing our design thinking game. We then explained the design thinking cycle and had the participants complete one iteration of it. We finished by exploring other subject areas and how they can use design challenges as well.
Check out our folder of resources here. More pictures can be found here on our Flickr. Stay tuned for more events in Benzonia and around the state this fall!
Our final workshop in Coopersville was on how libraries can amplify the work of beginning or intermediate sellers of online arts or crafts. Here are our resources from the workshop.
We taught the participants of the importance of photography, and SEO, as well as brainstormed potential ways the library could help surface sellers from its own community.
For connecting sellers, we including several examples of ways that other libraries have been able to amplify the sellers in their community.
Finally, we included a brief overview of several sites that stock inventory and can be used especially with budding entrepreneurs or artists.
Our final day in Coopersville started off with everyone showing up early (including us!), and learning about how to balance open-endedness with structure to increase creativity among students or people at our programs. Here are the resources from the day.
We started by introducing the room to Strawbees, and had some fantastic responses to our first challenge.
Then we broke down the design thinking cycle so participants could implement it. They went outside in the sprinkling rain and research each other’s vehicle dashboards.
Eventually, after going through the steps of the design thinking cycle, they made prototypes with cardboard (and junk box materials — and Strawbees) and Make-Do screws.
Finally, we introduced the idea of a challenge not simply based around technology, but rather drama, with our paper puppet people. After getting used to the movement, participants did short skits.
We had a lot of fun learning about fashion hacking today in Coopersville! Here are our slides and other info from the day.
Due to the high amount of knowledge in the room we tweaked our usual run-through and covered some of the theory behind fashion hacking.
We discussed different uses for a t-shirt, including costumes for kids and dog toys. Yarn from t-shirts was another topic.
It wasn’t long before our participants were making some pretty amazing things. We even had several finished pieces before lunch!
In the afternoon, we were able to teach the participants about making stencils using a Silhouette machine. Additionally, we taught them about how fun kids find the button-maker.
Our first workshop in the new, lovely, expanded library in Coopersville was a hit. Here are the resources from the day, including slides.
We started off with a notecard activity to get the participants thinking with their hands. We then dived into the history and aspects of the maker movement, along with our experience.
After asking participants to think about their own communities, we made a flashlight and hacked it into some pretty unbelievable things. (With a junk box that’s been whittled down, even!)
Finally, we had a lightning round of game design followed by tools time where participants got to check out our tools.