Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa

Mobile Makerspaces at Christchurch City Libraries

Kotuku16 cohort member Kelsey Johnston wrote a post about Mobile Maker Spaces at Christchurch City Libraries. 

The project

The aim of Mobile Maker space at Christchurch City Libraries is for people to gather together to create, share ideas and help each other. A project group was created with the intention of rolling out Mobile Makerspaces into libraries in the Christchurch network. The project was led by Kate Ogden (Team Leader Central Library Manchester) with support from Danny McNeil (Programme Design and Delivery of Special Projects Specialist).

While Kate was visiting libraries internationally for INELI, she discovered Mobile Maker spaces in libraries in other parts of the world and had the goal to see this exciting innovation happen in libraries in Christchurch. The aim was to make Makerspace sessions work for Christchurch's unique community libraries and its communities. The project group was comprised of eight library staff in various roles from different libraries across the network. 

Christchurch City Libraries took the Mobile Maker space kit approach where a number of kits would be developed with Maker-type activities in them. The kits were comprised of a mixture of engaging craft and technology based activities. The idea behind this was to have an interesting, creative and ready to go kits that would simplify delivering Makerspace programmes in libraries. It also allowed the kits to be contained which enabled easy rotation across libraries in the network.  The project group researched ideas for activities and resources to go in the kits and used international libraries (primarily US libraries) as examples of successful Maker spaces for ideas. The project group then re-met, discussed their ideas and decided on the most engaging, innovative, practical, and low maintenance options. After this the group costed out each option, reported back to the project leader and later the resources for the kits were purchased.

Examples of activities include

  • Hama beads
  • Makey makey
  • Meccano
  • Silly putty/gloop making
  • Quiver
  • Brain box
  • 3D pens
  • Bookmark craft
  • Dash Robot. 

These items/activities were trialled and learnt by the project group in order to become familiar with them so they would be able to deliver programmes or to teach or demonstrate to other staff.

Four Mobile Maker space kits were made, each with at least four main activities from different categories or themes such as technology, tactile activities and paper craft. The mobile kits were launched into three small libraries and one medium sized library for a trial period of six months starting in January 2016. They were trialled in smaller libraries first as these are libraries without Learning Centres or similar services whose customers are often not exposed to this type of technology or resources. This and maker spaces in general open up the possibility of the community being able to access and use technology and resources that they wouldnt have the opportunity to do so otherwise.

The four libraries involved in the trial deliver one-two  Maker space sessions per week and rotate the kits on a six weekly basis with communication between libraries and feedback forms being important components to enable problem solving and best practice to result in successful sessions and evidence for the review of the trial period. An important factor to take Christchurch City Libraries Mobile Maker space a step further was the branding. A logo was created and this was consistent across all of the marketing and promotional material for Christchurch's Maker space programmes. The branding included the words; create, dream big, sculpt, imagine, explore, innovate, upcycle, think, colour, challenge, repurpose, build and express and this encompasses the meaning of what the purposes of maker spaces are to its communities. The branding intended to create return customers and a set of expectations for customers around being able to attend regular and consistent programmes with fun, enjoyable and inspiring activities. 

What has been done elsewhere?

Other public libraries in New Zealand that have some form of Makerspace all have one common theme; Maker spaces are defined by sharing and collaboration – they are born out of a mind-set of community collaboration, partnership and creativity. There are two other public libraries in New Zealand that have tapped into the Maker space movement each in very different innovative and unique ways. 

At South Taranaki Libraries they have developed Creative Crates for adults, teens and children and these have been put together for use by the public in the libraries. The crates include adult colouring in books, Lego, Meccano and other craft ideas such as duct tape kits. These crates were introduced into each library 1 year ago. Like Christchurch City Libraries, South Taranaki Libraries has the goal of providing resources and experiences that are not normally available for customers in the community. It also shifts the focus from libraries providing access to materials or information (consumption) to empowering customers and the community to learn, create, invent and innovate (creation).

Auckland City Libraries implemented a sophisticated maker space programme in the central city branch library and the innovative factors of this project are having a maker space in the central city, in a library and in a large library system. Launching a maker space was a contribution from Auckland Libraries that closely aligned with an overarching strategic plan for the vision and outcomes for Auckland City.  The central library implemented the Maker space as an actual physical space or location to Make which were behind closed doors rather than out in the open within the library. They offered activities such as 3D printers, robotics, simple programming and using apps.They created two types of Makerspace sessions – free use sessions and regular workshops. The location of the library meant that visitors to the Maker space were different each time rather than repeat customers and customers came that were curious about the concept rather than having something specific in mind to try out or make. The central library also visited other Auckland Libraries with Maker space equipment and resources to offer taster sessions which benefit both customers and staff. This is clearly a very successful experiment with hundreds of engaged visitors in the libraries and a growing awareness amongst the community with respect to accessing maker activities. Amongst library staff there was a growth of knowledge and enthusiasm for interacting with the community in this way and it built maker culture into Auckland Libraries traditional service delivery to create value for customers.

What next?

After the launch of the Mobile Maker space trial 6 months ago, 4 libraries across the network have been delivering Maker space programmes using the resources and equipment within the kits. Feedback forms were filled in after each library used the kit and these remained with the kit until the end of the 6 months where there will be 4 sets of feedback for each kit. At the time of the submission of this case study the Maker space trial is ending in 2 weeks.  The written feedback will be collated after this time and used in decision making around the future direction for Maker space at Christchurch City Libraries. In 2 weeks, the 4 library teams involved with the trial will provide feedback to their Team Leader and each Team Leader will have a meeting with the project leader (Kate) to give feedback on the trial as a whole and the impacts on the team and the library. Possible future directions are making the kits bookable by libraries, creating more kits to expand the rotation to different libraries or switching the focus to bigger community or central libraries. Watch this (Maker) space!  

Share this on