Two of the goals for our library program this year are to explore how MakerSpaces, or the culture of MakerSpaces, could influence the structures and happenings in our library and to increase the participatory culture of our library program. Two of the things that I emphasized in our library orientations this year were the idea that the library is a place to create just as much as it is a place to get books and that if students have an idea for our library program they need to help me think about how to make it happen.
While the following idea is not one of the most significant examples of participatory culture or MakerSpaces, it is a small piece that serves to spark other happenings during the year. During orientation I suggested several examples of things that students might “make happen” during the year: create book trailers, shelve books, become a technology consultant, etc. One of those suggestions was to make bookmarks for other people to take. I suggested that if you want to see bookmarks in the library why not make that happen by making your own and putting them in the bookmark holder. Of course, with the busy start of the year, students forgot about it. This week students have been coming to the library for Scantron testing on the computers. When they finish, they just sit or read a book. Today, I pulled out markers, color pencils, crayons, and chopped-up card stock and told them they also had an option of making bookmarks. Almost every student chose to make a bookmark and their energy and excitement almost got out of control and disturbed testing! Imagine that! I documented their time through photographs and made an Animoto to play on our morning broadcast. Some of the students took blank bookmarks with them to make and bring back later. My hope is that their initial start will spark other students to want to participate. Not all students have to participate, but they need to feel that if they do contribute that their participation matters. I plan to do a quick talk on BTV after the video and see if this catches on spontaneously. I want our participatory culture to become more organic where students are coming up with ideas themselves, making suggestions, and taking action, but I don’t think that can happen all of a sudden. I’ll keep you posted!