Steaming Ahead One Librarian’s Successful Journey Into Makerspace

Contributor: Karen Young, Media Specialist at Buck Lake Elementary School


Makerspace… Hackerspace…FabLab…all words to describe a space within a media center. At its simplest level, makerspace is a “space to make things”. I had been reading about this “makerspace thing” and kne w I wanted to bring it to our school as I transitioned from being a classroom teacher to being a school media specialist 4 years ago.  I was afforded the freedom to turn the library into the space that I envisioned it to be and I knew a makerspace HAD to be a part of it.

When my new administration team arrived three years ago, my principal asked me if I had heard of makerspaces…well, as a matter of fact I had. I was ready to share my vision and a list of what I would like to do.  Support from your administration is key to having a successful makerspace in your media center. The transition to where we are at today has taken time and we continue to evolve with each new year.  

You might be wondering HOW I created our makerspace area? I was allowed to utilize all the profits from my Scholastic Book Fair to purchase items for our makerspace.  Over the past 3 years, I have been able to purchase over $12,000 in new makerspace items.  Our tables, which were once used one time a month for meetings were taken over and we now have 12 tables that have a variety of makerspace items on them daily.  Osmos, Keva planks, straw connectors, Magnatiles, Ozobots, Littlebits, Codeapillars, Squigz, Wonder Cues are just a few of our favorites that fill our tables.  Old classics like Tinkertoys, Legos, and Lincoln Logs are a favorite as well.

Nothing compares to our largest purchases of our Rigmajigs and our Everblock or “life size legos” as we call them.  They were not inexpensive, but they were worth every penny and are used daily by every age level. One of our least expensive, yet most popular, is our Creation Station, which is filled with recyclables and art materials. One of the most important things to me is to fill our makerspace area with items that work cross grade level and can be used and appreciated by all ages. 

An additional bonus of having a makerspace in your media center is the integration of STEAM concepts into your student’s daily lives.  It encourages ALL students to create and explore in a non-threatening environment. I have seen student of all academic abilities work together-often seeing the children who may be less successful academically thrive in this hands-on environment. 

One of my favorite memories since I began makerspace is when a third grader, Madison, looked at me and said, “Ms. Young, since you brought makerspace to our library, we are ALL engineers!”. If you are interested in bringing this dynamic change to your media center, I hope you will join me as I share my passion at FETC on Tuesday, January 29th from 12:00-12:40 during my session “Steaming Ahead: One Librarian’s Successful Journey into Makerspace”.

About Karen Young:

Karen Young earned her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Georgia College. Her 23 years of teaching have included time in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Second Grade in both the United States and Japan. She is currently holds the position of Media Specialist at a Tallahassee elementary school. She also held the position of technology coordinator. Ms. Young has worked hard to transform the media center into a thriving child-centered space during the past 4 years. She enjoys sharing her passion for makerspace with teachers from around the state.

Sessions at FETC 2019:

TOLMS | Future of EdTech Library Media Specialist Orientation

C058 | STEAMING AHEAD: One Librarian’s Successful Journey Into Makerspace