Crowdsourcing the Maker Librarian Definition

Crowdsourcing is a great way to find out information.  My students often use it when researching topics for class, or hunting for a new book. I think it’s also one of the reasons Twitter is such a popular social media for educators. Since we have an insatiable love of learning, we love to find out what others think! Or sometimes it’s just easier to find lessons from other veteran educators! (I’m thinking of an exchange with Mr. Snyder today!)

So how would you define a maker librarian? I posed this question last week and enticed librarians to answer by promising a giveaway of this maker librarian shirt by Keen Bee Studio. I love the variety and range of the answers I received!



(and winners of “The Shirt“)

More great answers

Great Instagram and Facebook posts:

  • Best FB post: Wendy McLeod A book lover with tinkermania. You know. A tinkerarian!
  • Maria R. Mucino #keenbeenerd #maker Marshmallow shooters in Guadalupe, AZ
  • Maria R. Mucino's photo.
  • Amber Cox Maker Librarians help transform consumers into creators, inspiring them with an endless array of possibilities, & showing them the only limit in life is their imaginations! #keenbeenerd #librarian
  • Patricia Copeland I’m just about to launch my MakerSpace, so I’m a newbie maker librarian in a public middle school. Right now, I’d define myself as a gatherer and a listener and a learner. The librarian is the natural place for all these activities. As I struggle to prepare my space, gather materials from anywhere I can find them, from anyone who will give me money or materials, I see the excitement growing within the kids. Getting kids into the library to make, to learn, to read and experiment, to bring me ideas is so energizing to me as a librarian and teacher. What better way to instill life-long learning than to let children have a space where they can grow in ways that a formal classroom doesn’t often allow. We officially open our space in three weeks. The kids and I can’t wait!!!
  • Jennifer Ward Grimes A Maker Librarian is NOT your mother’s librarian…they are risk taking, innovative facilitators of boundless creativity! Maker Librarians welcome noise and mess, present their libraries as learning laboratories outside the confines of a traditional classroom.
  • Sarah Cranstoun Palfrey I think a Maker Librarian is not only willing to try something new but also disregard some of the rules in the name of curiosity and creativity.
  • Angela Critics A Maker Librarian hosts a space where a young teen can transform from someone with no confidence in her ability to complete a project to someone who will happily try any new tech gadget or just build something creative out of random supplies on hand. She’s now our resident master of the 3D Doodler pen. I love my job!
  • Eric Johnson If a library is fundamentally a place where ALL knowledge is created and shared, we *have* to support the creation and sharing of knowledge that doesn’t happen to come in written form. So QED: the library makerspace and the maker librarian! #keenbeenerd #librarian
  • Laurie Gallagher A Maker Librarian gives a place and a voice to innovation and creativity. A Maker Librarian in a school setting enables young students to think outside the box and believe in themselves enough to take risks. They guide them through the design process and encourage them to explore. A Maker Librarian in a public setting enables all members of a community to learn and try; to share materials and ideas and expertise to better us all.

    Some of the best conversations happen over Legos! #keenbeenerd #librarian #ineedthatshirt!

    A photo posted by Seminole High School Library (@seminolehs_library) on

My Definition?

But what do I think? You already know that I think I have the best job in the world. Promoting literacy and innovation is just about the best way I can think of to spend my work day. However, the most important aspect of being a maker librarian is being FEARLESS especially when it comes to failure.  A maker librarian tries lots of new things and so a maker librarian messes up a lot because learning is messy. If you want to run a successful makerspace, you have to own your mistakes so you can own your learning and share that learning with your students. You have to let kids see that failing doesn’t freak you out.  Instead, you learn from it.  You have to remain calm when things go wrong and you have to be able to deal with messy learning.

But how does that look in daily library life?

This week I sat down with a student and finally understood Ohm’s Law utilizing our Circuit Scribe kit. (I didn’t Vine our Ohm learning, but here is an example of the conductivity lesson in the kit.) Sometimes you do these activities with kids AND THEY DON’T WORK. Don’t freak out, instead, be calm and say, “Well, why isn’t this working?” Then figure it out together. What better way to teach problem solving?

Another group of students helped me figure out AND and OR logic and then we realized we could transfer that learning to our littleBits. If I’d waited until I’d used these resources and understood these concepts, than this on the cuff learning wouldn’t have happened. So, when you get that cool new maker resource, open it and learn alongside your students!

AND gate

OR Gate with Circuit Scribe

Sometimes kids ask me about things that I have no idea about, so I just say, ” I don’t know, let’s figure it out together!”

A maker librarian knows that learning is messy, and we aren’t afraid to make mistakes. A maker librarian isn’t afraid to have a hard time figuring things out. We are okay with letting the students see that sometimes we don’t know how to do something. We help our students let go of being afraid of failure because we are willing to sit down next to them and model problem solving and learn together.

Edit: 10/23/15 – I worked on this post for a few days and hit “post” a little too quick yesterday.  I wanted to add that a maker librarian is these things in conjunction what we consider to be our typical duties. My job as a teacher librarian is to promote a safe environment for learning for my students and teachers, to be seen as an instructional partner on campus by my teachers, and to promote literacy (including digital, visual, and coding literacy) and reading. I still love books and getting kids hooked on reading.  Now I just feel that I have a little something for every student in the library, and sometimes getting them in to make something, leads to them going home with a good book- whether that be fiction or a non-fiction how to book it doesn’t matter to me.  What matters is helping them connect the dots of their learning with good and valid resources AND teaching them how to evaluate those sources and manage the information overload we are bombarded with on a daily basis. 

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