A Librarian’s Guide to Boosting the Maker Movement

A Librarian’s Guide to Boosting the Maker Movement

I work at a public library and get to talk to several hundred people each week. I ask almost everyone I talk to whether they have heard of MAKE magazine. More than 90 percent of the public has never heard of MAKE, but I can tell you I’m doing my part to change that. My library subscribes to MAKE, so I’m able to walk people over to the periodical shelf and put the magazine in their hand.  If the person is over 55 years old, I explain, “MAKE magazine is the Whole Earth Catalog reborn. It’s the coolest thing ever.” Even if you don’t work in a public library, there are easy, no-cost steps you can do to boost MAKE magazine.

1. Bring a friend with you to a Maker Faire or a Mini Maker Faire. If there isn’t a maker faire coming up in your city, check around for adjacent cities. Let me tell you, it’s worth driving 150 miles (or more) to attend a maker fair. If you’re a geek, you’ll be giddy with delight within a minute of walking into a maker fair.

2. Get your school and public libraries to subscribe to MAKE magazine. Don’t be surprised if this process takes six months or a year. If your local library is hurting financially, check to see if the Friends of the Library group could sponsor a subscription to MAKE. Speaking of which, introduce yourself to your local Friends of the Library group.  They may want to invite you to give a talk about the maker movement — or they might want to include you as a panelist in a panel discussion about the future of libraries. Befriend a librarian and offer to put up an exhibit about the maker movement in one of the library’s display cases.

3. Find what makerspaces exist or are forming in your town. Show up with a smile and offer to help. Maybe you can teach a small group workshop on something you care about. You don’t need to be an expert to share your knowledge. Keep in mind that the word “making” is very broadly defined, so anything made by human hand is fair game: knitting, welding, electronics, jewelry making, software programming, carpentry, just about anything else.

4. Find makers on YouTube, subscribe to their channels and leave them encouraging comments. Tell your friends to do the same. What, you don’t have a YouTube account? Just log into YouTube with your Gmail. You’ll have a YouTube account plenty fast.

5.  Use social media — Facebook and Twitter — to redistribute maker related news and blog posts. A good starting point is to follow MAKE magazine founder Dale Dougherty on Twitter (@dalepd).  See who follows Dale on Twitter and then see who follows those people. You’ll encounter plenty of passionate makers, I guarantee you. You might also want to sign up for your local Linux user group email list. You’ll find makers there aplenty.

Here’s a goal for all of us who support the maker movement.  Let’s try to raise public awareness of MAKE magazine and the maker movement such that 20 percent of the population is in the know. That’s a lofty goal, but it’s achievable if we each do our part. The above suggestions are just some ways of working toward that goal. Use your ingenuity and devise other ways. Ingenuity is the great strength of the maker movement. It’s time we put that strength to work for the movement itself. Get your little brother and little sister to help you, too.

I’d welcome any tips you have for spreading the word, too. Please add them to the comments below.

Editor’s Note: Maker Camp is another great resource for aspiring makers—and librarians. And speaking of libraries, MAKE is offering $20 off MAKE subscriptions to libraries. Simply go here . And check out the Makerspace Playbook, a great resource for getting a makerspace up and running.

[Phil Shapiro is a maker and media maker in the Washingon, D.C. area. He loves open sourcedigital storytelling and fixing up donated computers to deliver to people who need them. He can be reached at pshapiro@his.com  and on Twitter @philshapiro.]

8 thoughts on “A Librarian’s Guide to Boosting the Maker Movement

  1. A Librarian’s Guide to Boosting the Maker Movement Sherry Huss says:

    Excellent piece Phil. We will share this blog post with MAKE’s library community.

  2. Mary says:

    Thanks Phil! I’ll go check it out! I’m a maker of music–both as a writer and teacher, and my husband is a maker of LOTS of stuff! from our house to chicken coops to the stage at stillwaters! oh yeah and he makes CDs (recording engineer–that’s how we met :)

  3. Apryl says:

    I read the whole thing and I still have no idea what MAKE is, and I work in a public library! I’ll google it…

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Phil Shapiro is a maker and media maker in the Washingon DC area. He loves open sourcedigital storytelling and fixing up donated computers to deliver to people who need them. He can be reached at pshapiro@his.com and on Twitter @philshapiro.

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