This pathfinder/libguide was created for an LIS 407 Reference course assignment at Simmons College.
I had an institution in mind as my inspiration for creating MakerGuide: a local makerspace/school/workshop called Parts and Crafts in Somerville, MA. Their identity is many things, and their website captures this sense of wearing multiple hats:
We’re a makerspace. We’re a school, wait, no, we’re a not-school. We’re a community workshop. We’re a tool library. We’re a summer camp and a place to take classes and a board game club and a space to build stuff and find friends and projects and interesting things going on (Parts and Crafts).
As a librarian, the tool library was particularly interesting to me, and that’s why I chose to base my guide on this type of space. I also like the fact that Parts and Crafts is geared toward involving children in the maker movement. Their mission includes:
- democratizing technology/technical competency
- promoting self-direction and autonomous education
- prioritizing economic accessibility, and
- a commitment to warmth, friendliness, whimsy, and openness which comes from our work with kids but we hope to bring to grown-ups as well
Adults are welcome, of course, but it’s expected that they don’t mind sharing the space with kids. There are weekly opens shops as well as drop-in after school programs during the week. Parts and Crafts is supported by memberships and charged on a sliding scale to increase access to as many children as possible.
While Parts and Crafts was my inspiration for my guide, I wanted it to be broad enough to apply to any maker or hackerspace. My intended audience is an adult user, probably an educator or librarian involved in the maker community, looking for ideas and advice; however, I’m aware that children could also access this page. In the design of this pathfinder, I tried to create a bright and interesting “cover” that would lead to more substantive information underneath.
The homepage of MakerGuide is visually appealing and colorful. The circles are interactive, so that clicking on them brings up a brief description of the resource and a preview of the homepage. There are a variety of sites for children and adults, plus blogs, wikis, and online communities; buttons range from the kid-friendly DIY to the Arduino Project Hub. There are also some pages especially for librarians like Make it @ Your Library and Programming Librarian. I found many of these pages organically, by surfing and following links. When I ran out of leads, Diana Rendina’s site Renovated Learning was one of the best places to restart my search.
I found this map in my research and, while it’s not a perfect tool (Parts and Crafts is not included), it’s interesting to see the distribution of makerspaces across the globe.
In designing this page, I experimented with several different layouts before deciding that a more traditional list would be most effective. As the list came together, I started to see that there were some distinct categories: books for children and professionals, hands-on guides, and a series from Maker Media. I also still wanted to incorporate the covers of these books, so I added a slideshow of images at the top that cycles through each title.
To identify books for this list, I used the pages that are listed under Sources as a starting point. I also found Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together” tool very helpful for suggesting similar titles. In the end, it was really a process of following leads and making connections.
I didn’t originally intend to create the podcast page, but after finding The New Artemis article I kept coming across more podcasts. With the culture of podcasts on the rise, it seemed very appropriate to include a list of some of the more popular programs. I wanted to mirror the simplicity and color of the homepage, so I created a simple list of icons that are each linked to the corresponding podcasts’s website.
In the future, for this page to be current and relevant, it will need to be updated regularly by curators who are engaged in the maker world. The incredible growth in this field means that pages can quickly become outdated if they are not maintained. Personally, I would also hope to expand it to include a section particularly for young female makers, similar to the Mighty Girl page. There are many directions and branches in the makerspace world, and this guide is just a starting place for those beginning their journeys.