Guest Blogger

Tips and Tricks for Makerspace – from the TEA Room

When I started at Darien Library eleven months ago I was give the responsibility of managing the TEA Room.  I know what you’re thinking, and no, it is not a room where you drink tea. It’s a makerspace that we call the Technology, Engineering, and the Arts Room.  The TEA Room is for our patrons in grades 3-6 with the supervision of an adult. A few months ago we were bombarded with people wanting to use the TEA Room when word got around that we had a 3D printer that could be used to print a fidget spinner.  This new fad caused a 100% increase in use of the TEA Room compared to last year, and unfortunately we were not as prepared as we should have been.  So here are five tips and tricks that helped me along the way.

  1. Create a calendar or some way to keep track of who is currently in the space or who makes an appointment. (We use Google Calendars.)
  2. Get organized! I bought plastic drawers, and then put smaller plastic bins in each of those drawers.  Each drawer contains supplies needed for one or two projects, so patrons have easy access to everything needed for one activity.  I used a label maker to label each drawer with a number and labeled each bin with the supplies it contained. This made it visually easier for patrons and staff to find supplies.
    Image of plastic tubs with supplies
  3. Create an inventory sheet of all the supplies in your makerspace and set a time every week to inventory and organize the space. I organized my sheet according to the drawer numbers.
    Inventory sheet in front of drawers holding MakerSpace supplies
  4. Make a few instruction sheets for activities patrons can follow on their own. During the holiday season, I made a DIY gift giving guide for the TEA Room, which had sets of instructions to about ten different gifts they could make themselves.  The activities proved to be popular enough to be kept in the room all year long.
    Makespace display about "Gifts to Make"
  5. Jump in on the current fad. We used the fidget spinner craze to our advantage and promoted the fact that we had a 3D printer, which was free to use.  Since it takes about 45 minutes to print the spinner, we encouraged them to use the other technology in the room or make a craft while they waited.  Using the current fad to our advantage, led to a lot more people returning for another appointment.

Do you have any quick tips and tricks to help maintain and manage a makerspace?  I’d love to hear any in the comments!

Photos courtesy of guest blogger

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Headshot of guest blogger, Tori Ogawa
Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest blogger is Tori Ann Ogawa.  Tori is a children’s librarian and the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow at Darien Library in Connecticut.  She is the ALSC representative in the 2017 ALA Emerging Leader program.  You can tweet her @ToriOgawa.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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