The Data Dude on the Makerspace Survey (pt. 1)

makerspace items in nebraska libraries 2016Earlier this year, we launched a survey to gather data on library makerspaces. Today’s post, and this might have the capability to be milked, er, I mean stretched out — over the course of a few weeks, will provide a brief overview of the data collected. First off, there were 150 responses, which is splendid news. A number of the surveys were completed in the first few days after launch. Out of those 150 respondents, only 37 reported currently having a makerspace of some sort in their library (25%), and of that 37, only 14 reported having a permanent space set aside specifically for these activities (9%). The remaining 23 have spaces that are temporary (e.g. they function as meeting or conference rooms but sometimes have makerspace programs, presumably storing the equipment and supplies between events). Today, we will provide a brief synopsis of some of the items in those existing spaces, as illustrated by the bar chart at the right. Specifically, Legos and arts and crafts items make up more than 70% of all items in the spaces. That is a rather large percentage, and goes to show that you can do meaningful or relevant things on the cheap. When we think of big ticket items, we generally think about things like CNC routers, 3D printers, laser cutters, and other techy things; arts and crafts don’t typically come to mind. The point being that it doesn’t take a huge amount of investment to provide programs, and to reap the benefits of community collaboration. The Dude recently read an article entitled “How to Start a Makerspace When You’re Broke”, which might be good reading for you naysayers that report limited or no funds to provide these sorts of activities. For those of you who have limited space, keep in mind that many libraries (as noted above) have dedicated spaces in those dual purpose areas (or temporary) that might function as a meeting room for some of the time, and maker events for the other. Load the stuff on a cart and wheel it in there, then wheel it back. With warm weather around the corner, head outside on nice days. These might be pragmatic solutions to get you in the game. Shaka.
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