A 3-Dimensional Approach to Library Service: Maker Spaces!

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Lauren Smedley’s pioneering work in developing the first public library fabrication lab (Fab Lab) at Fayetteville Free Library presents a new era of librarianship that has been talked about, but difficult to implement due to cost. Maker Spaces drive users of the library to become creators and not just consumers, using Do-it-Yourself technology such as 3-D printers, microcontrollers, print-on-demand book bots and even low-tech tools such as sewing machines and bicycle repair kits (McCue, 2011; Koerber, 2012; Britton, 2012).


The key to Maker Space success is that is promotes the library’s mission and learning objectives through play, which makes learning easier and more meaningful (Britton, 2012). Curators of maker spaces become co-creators and partners instead of information providers and facilitators, a new dynamic and role that are rarely accomplished in librarianship under normal circumstances. The Maker Space brings libraries one-step closer to fulfilling the Participatory Model of library services, where users create content that the library archives and “catalogs.”

I was so impressed with the idea of Maker Spaces that I tried to search for local fabrication labs so that I could investigate and explore them in person. Makezine.com is a blog and lists city groups that foster maker communities across the U.S., as well as tech shops, workshops, and links to master lists of Maker Spaces worldwide (Baichtal, n.d.) The hackerspaces.org wiki is one of these master lists, which show locations on a world map and also offers a searchable database. You can also click countries, states and cities to find one closest to you. Some of the Maker Spaces are in libraries, but others are homegrown, whether in rented warehouses or even garages. (Hackerspaces, n.d.)

The closest Maker Space to me is the Temecula Public Library, which houses it’s own Espresso Book Machine! The Espresso is a micropublishing bot that can create print-on-demand books from a central database of published works or from an uploaded PDF file (Koerber, 2012). See the Espresso Book Machine in action in the video below! Self-publishing still costs hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars through vanity sites like iUniverse, but the idea of walking to your local library to print and self-publish your own book is the ultimate in do-it-yourself creative library services. This fits in well with the concept of future library patrons as creators and not consumers, a fitting prospect for 3-D librarianship!

Britton, L. (2012). The makings of maker spaces, part 1: Space for creation, not just consumption. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/10/public-services/the-makings-of-maker-spaces-part-1-space-for-creation-not-just-consumption/

Koerber, J. (2012). The makings of maker spaces, part 2: Espress yourself. Library Journal.  Retrieved from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/10/public-services/the-makings-of-maker-spaces-part-2-espress-yourself/

McCue, T. (2011). First public library to create a maker space. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2011/11/15/first-public-library-to-create-a-maker-space/

Baichtal, J. (n.d.). Maker community groups and spaces. Makezine. Retrieved from http://makezine.com/groups/index.csp

Hackerspaces. (n.d.). List of all hackerspaces [Data file]. Retrieved from http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/List_of_ALL_hackerspaces


Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at librarycurrents1@aol.com.


  1. Carlie

    November 12, 2012 at 7:44 am

    The EBM is sooooo cool! There’s one in our uni bookstore, and I find it to be a very affordable way to print reports that look professional….plus it’s fun! Thanks for sharing maker space links!

  2. Pamela Hawks

    November 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Thanks for the post on maker spaces. I am writing about them for my director’s brief and the possibilities are so amazing. I also think the EBM is a way cool thing for libraries to invest in and I can bet that if my own library did that, the line to use it would be out the door! I grew up listening to punk music, so I love that maker spaces have that punk-edge of DIY about them. I follow Maker Librarian on Twitter — they have a lot of great ideas!

  3. Jessica C

    November 13, 2012 at 3:29 am

    This is so cool. Do you think the EBM is something a public library could benefit from? I love the idea of advocating for creative writing at a local level. Thank you so much for the post…it is a new concept for me. I order print on demand books from Baker and Taylor all of the time. I wonder if we had our own EBM if we could print those books. They usually take almost 2 months to get to the library.

  4. Mickel Paris

    November 16, 2012 at 2:37 am

    I’ll have to check out the Maker Librarian feed on Twitter, thanks for the lead! Also, that’s great to tackle Maker Spaces for your Director’s Brief, I’m sure there’s a lot more interesting research on implementing them. I would say that any library with an EBM will see a lot of usage, and I’m wondering why many more haven’t gotten them. Are they really expensive? They really should be in every community.

  5. Pamela Hawks

    November 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    They really aren’t very expensive in the scheme of things. A brand new 3D replication printer costs around $2,000 (which, if you think about the technology involved, is really inexpensive). I think that it’s more a staffing problem — having the staff time allocated for fundraising. The libraries that seem to have been successful at it made the institutional commitment to put a few staff in charge of getting the spaces started and they found money through crowd-sourced funding and state and community grants. I think that starting a digital media lab would be a much greater challenge and would require more expense.

  6. Shiloh Moore

    November 17, 2012 at 4:26 am

    I love that we have a group of future Makerspacers! If I get the fellowship with LAPL I will spend some of the 6K project fund on a 3D printer for sure! there also is a LA Makerspace group on FB.
    If you are not on FB here is their website:

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