The Accidental Library Director

If you would have told me just over a year ago that I would be a library director, hysterical laughter would be my response:

But here I am. I keep calling myself the “accidental” library director. That’s how I introduced myself with a group of new college library director peers. My husband told me to stop saying that. “You’re devaluing your worth!” or something to that effect. I can’t help it. Midwestern self-deprecation is my coping mechanism. No one should seem too self-important.

There was never a desire for a career in library leadership. Up until now, my entire 15+ year stretch as an academic librarian has been focused on information literacy, research assistance, and outreach. I got to do “fun” things like 3D printing, managing a children’s/young adult literature collection, teaching a podcasting course, and designing active learning exercises. I had the freedom to be as creative as I wanted to be.

Conversely, being library director sounded like a creativity killer: budgets, human resources, management.

But truth be told, I was inching toward leadership: I had plenty of programmatic leadership experience, and in the past few years also managed staff.

In October 2017, the interim library director at our small-ish academic library (approx. 3,400 students) resigned. We did not have a back up plan. That’s not a criticism–we just all had too many other things to do. Succession planning was not at the top of the list.

After realizing that none of the other librarians wanted to step up, I offered to. I also told the Provost that I was not interested in the job permanently. Well, you can see where that went: Accidental Library Director.

I filled the interim role for 6 months before applying for the permanent position. Even though an internal applicant, I still had to go through the full interview process: resume/cover letter, phone interview, in-person interview. And I’m glad I did: it made the process transparent and worthwhile. In May 2018, I was appointed permanent library director.

Why Didn’t I Want to Do It (at first)?

  1. I like being a front line librarian and the interactions and energy with students, faculty, and staff.
  2. We had no one trained as a #2 person who could step up to the top role.
  3. At our small-ish academic library, the library director also oversees access services (circulation, interlibrary loan, reserves) and I had absolutely no interest in that.
  4. I really enjoyed my coordination area of info lit and research assistance. My office in the Information Commons was a hub for student activity. I would miss that.
  5. I wasn’t sure I was the right person to be an effective advocate for the library with senior administration (cue imposter syndrome).

Why Did I Change My Mind?

  1. As director, I’m still a front line librarian! At a smaller institution, all of the librarians are front line. I may not be doing as much info lit as I did previously, but I have plenty of interactions. I just worked with a senior capstone English class and their outstanding research topics have energized me as reference librarian this semester.
  2. I got over my “I hate access services” feeling. We all have job duties that are not our “favorite.” You sometimes just have to suck it up. I’m backed up by an incredible circulation manager who handles a lot of day-to-day access services issues.
  3. Yeah, I did enjoy info lit over the years (and I still happily participate as library director–I just don’t have to do as much). But secretly, I was getting to the point where I could potentially see myself getting burnt out. It was time for a change. I got to re-write my “old” position description and hire a new Teaching & Learning Librarian who is off to an outstanding start!
  4. It took some non-library people to convince me to apply: a professor, a senior administrator, and a staff member to say: “Joe: You could TOTALLY do this job!” For me, I gradually realized that all of my experiences prepared me for this. My feelings transitioned from “I could do the job” to “I want to do this job.”
  5. In the interim role, I started making small changes. Then I wanted to see those changes develop. Library administration is not boring. I love collaborating with colleagues from inside and outside the library. I’m proud of the exciting things that library staff are doing. I want to promote that and work with stakeholders on carrying out the library’s mission of student success.

With that said, there is so much to learn and you can be pulled in a million different directions. It’s a big switch for me. For the first year, I’ve been doing a lot of listening: amongst library staff, students, and faculty on campus. I’ve been energized in interactions with the College Library Director Mentoring Program and some of my professional associations and by great colleagues on Twitter.

In a few months, I’ll run a follow-up post on what I’m learning. Lately, it’s been mostly HVAC issues, hah!

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Tapping Student Talent to Diversify the Library Collection

At the university where I work, all students are required to participate in a cross-cultural experience. Some students go away for a semester abroad–often through a partner institution. Some professors here take students to a different country for anywhere from 1-3 weeks. But it doesn’t have to be international either–we also offer domestic trips to different cities, rural locations, the US/Mexico borderland, and Native American reservations. They key is to create an immersive experience. You must go beyond simply being a “tourist.” I’ve chaperoned two trips to Italy and it’s a rewarding experience for students.

As part of the preparation, the library collection often comes into play. A lot of the cross-cultural experiences require students to read a novel set in the locale/country they are visiting, written by an author from that locale/country. The librarians see a lot of research questions like:

“I need to find a book set in Peru and written by a Peruvian author.”

…And that’s when we found our library collection was not too diverse. A lot of the fiction was 1) white and 2) US or Eurocentric. We needed to diversify.

This is where student workers come into play. One of our excellent circulation student workers happens to be an English and Global Studies major. Besides having her do regular circ desk work, why not use her skills from English and Global Studies? It’s a chance for her to use her course experiences and apply them. After talking with her, this is the project we devised:

  1. Get a list of countries/regions/locales where students can complete their cross-cultural experience requirement.
  2. Using Novelist, Amazon, Worldcat, and other tools, research books set in some of the areas where students will be studying, written by authors from those areas.
  3. Check our library catalog to make sure we don’t already own the items.
  4. Organize the list by area, followed by titles/authors.
  5. Using her English/Global Studies background knowledge, prioritize novels by areas with greatest need.

The student worker was able to make recommendations using knowledge from the courses she had taken and then used the tools to find more books. She was passionate about the project and it gave her the opportunity to see how the library is directly connected to student success and support. It was also a project she could put on her resume. It’s important to mention that we always need to be mindful that we are not exploiting students for their labor (and the student worker was paid for this work), but if we can find worthwhile projects that match student interests and career goals, then go for it!

I then was able to order the novels using the library’s “diversity” fund line in our materials budget. Several years ago we had carved out this fund line from the “big” materials budget explicitly for diversifying the collection. We use a broad definition for diversity, and this project fit the bill.

Now when a student says, “I’m studying in Morocco and I need a novel by a Moroccan author”…we have it!

Finding Uncle Dan

In 2018, with all the technology and communication available, people can still slip off the radar. There seems to be this insistence that everyone is online; everyone has a smartphone. Of course, that’s overly simplistic. It ignores the digital divide and people who simply, for whatever reason, choose not to engage online. That’s the case with my Uncle Dan.

My mom texted me the other day saying she’s been trying to get ahold of Dan, her brother-in-law, but found that his phone number was disconnected. I hadn’t thought of my Uncle Dan in quite awhile. He was my dad’s older brother–by quite a few years–and the sole surviving sibling after my dad passed away in 2012.

Meeting Uncle Dan
The first time I met Dan was about 1980…but I don’t remember it; I was only around two years old. My mom and I had flown out to California to attend a wedding on her side of the family, but it was Dan–my dad’s brother–that graciously offered to pick us up at LAX.

The second time I met Dan was in 1989…and this I remember. My mom, dad, and I had flown out to California to see family and do the Disneyland thing. We visited with Dan in Long Beach where he lived. I remember him taking us to his favorite breakfast joint, Eggs, Etc. We also ventured down with him to Mission San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, and Laguna Beach.

The following year in 1990, he came out to Indiana by train (he didn’t like to fly) to visit with us and his mom (my grandma) who wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with.

That was the last time I saw him in person. He and my dad weren’t close. They loved each other, but a phone call on Christmas and birthdays usually sufficed. After my dad passed away, we lost touch. That’s on me.

About Uncle Dan
So here’s what I know (or think I know) about Dan. His full name is Daniel Alan Hardenbrook. He is around 83 years old as of 2018. He is a U.S. military veteran, having served in Korea. I’m not sure which branch of the military. I believe he also spent time in Greenland during his military service.

After the military, he ended up settling in Long Beach, CA where I think he worked as a pipe fitter. When we saw him in 1989, he was working at a hardware store. I remember him being down-to-earth with a fierce independent streak.

He lived in an apartment and his longtime address was 1121 Stanley Avenue, Long Beach, CA, 90804.

Lost Communication

After my dad died and my mom moved own of town, she disconnected her landline phone number of 30+ years. That’s the number that Dan would have known. She had given him her mobile number, but we’re not sure if he wrote it down or saved it.

I had given him my mobile number a few years back, but I’ve since changed it. Dan didn’t have a mobile number. He also wasn’t on social media.

Dan wasn’t in touch with any immediate family members that we are aware of.

Librarian Sleuthing and Court Records Search

I tried doing some librarian sleuthing. His name hasn’t popped up in the Long Beach newspaper. However, I did find something unsettling. After doing a California court records search, apparently he was evicted from his apartment–his longtime address–in November 2017.

Where does an 83-year old man go? He had friends, but we can’t recall names nor how to get in contact with them. Do I start looking for neighbors? Check homeless shelters? Maybe VA facilities since he was a veteran?

This is our fault for not staying in touch. Despite living in a world of constant communication and technology that seems to be increasingly invading our private lives, some people are off the grid.

I hope I can find Uncle Dan.

Come work with me! Teaching & Learning Librarian

Note: This position has been filled. Thanks!

We’re hiring!

Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin is looking for a full-time Teaching & Learning Librarian. Details are on the university’s employment site.

About the Teaching & Learning Librarian
The Teaching & Learning Librarian oversees all aspects of the library’s research assistance and General Education information literacy initiatives. This position also maintains the Information Commons and Library Classroom, coordinates the library’s Curriculum Materials Collection, serves as the library’s liaison to the Education department and other assigned subject areas, and oversees the library’s 3D printing service. This position also co-supervises the Information Commons & Acquisitions Manager and one student worker. The library is known for its strong liaison program (“MyLibrarian”) and integration into the first-year curriculum.

Formerly titled Reference & Instruction Librarian, the Teaching & Learning Librarian was my position before I moved over to the Library Director role. I took the opportunity to update the title to reflect current practices in the profession and to emphasize the teaching and learning initiatives that the job entails (e.g., research assistance, info lit coordination, information commons management, liaison work, 3D printing). I like to characterize this as a “fun” job…there is a lot of room for growth, creativity, and autonomy.

Todd Wehr Memorial Library, Carroll University

About Carroll University
Carroll University has approximately 3,400 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. The university has a strong focus in health & life science programs, but with a grounding in the liberal arts. The library employs 5 professional librarians, 3 support staff members, 5 part-time staff, and approximately 50 student workers. The library prides itself on a team environment.

Carroll University, Waukesha, WI

About Waukesha, Wisconsin
Waukesha (pop. 70,000+) was recently named most livable city in Wisconsin. It is located 20 minutes from downtown Milwaukee (with a metro pop. of 1.5 million), one hour from Madison, and two hours from Chicago.

downtown Waukesha, Wisconsin

 

Librarian Advice: 15 years in…

This month marks my 15th anniversary as a librarian. I started my first post-MLS job in February 2003. It has gone by so fast. I don’t feel “mid-career” but I guess it’s official now! Wait…does that mean I can retire in another 15 years? Answer: No, I will only be 54 years old then!

So in honor of those 15 years, here are 15 bits of wisdom or advice. Got your own story or advice to share? Feel free to comment below.

1. I’m still here–with help from my friends
Hey, how did I make it here? With a little bit of luck and wisdom from some great library folks I worked with: There’s Carol, my very first supervisor way back when I was a student worker. I didn’t realize I wanted to be a librarian but I slowly saw the rewarding work that Carol did. Then there was Karin, a library director and “old school” librarian who just knew how to make everything work–she could problem-solve anything. Then there was Paula–the queen of library marketing and outreach who was always thinking two steps ahead of everyone else. And Susan: who demonstrated the deep connections librarians can make to their communities. I learned from all of them!

2. I enjoy my job, but I don’t love it
Yep, I said it. For me, love is for family and friends. Don’t get me wrong: I like my job! It’s always been nice to have a job where you don’t dread going into work every day. I have many a friend who cannot say that. But I don’t live for my job. It fits squarely into my Type B personality. I also have a policy of not doing work at home (although I may glance at an email or two from time to time).

3. Work/Life balance
And that brings me to my next point: The work/life balance. About 4 years into being a librarian I was encouraged to apply for an additional part-time position at my organization. Money was tight at the time, so it seemed like it would be a good option for extra income–and it was. The downside? I was clocking 60 hours per week. I ended up getting burnt out–not just of the extra job–but of the whole organization–and sought employment elsewhere. Learn how to juggle multiple demands and speak up when “enough is enough.” Libraries can often be exploitative of labor.

4. Do I have a career or a job?
Related to #1 and #2, I waffle on whether I have a career or just a job. Being a librarian is my first and only career–so I guess it’s a career then, right? I’ve moved around libraries a lot as a trailing spouse/partner, so for me, looking for a job in the right location has always been more important than some sort of career trajectory. I’ve also been a front-line librarian the entire time. It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I became a “middle manager” with supervisory responsibilities. I hate the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question–so mostly I consider myself having a “job.” I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

5. People think you’re cool!
I know a lot of librarians get the typical “oh, you must like to read” response when you tell them you are a librarian. But just as often, I get people who think being a librarian is cool–or even more. A few months ago, while on a cruise ship, I was making chit-chat with a woman and when I told her what I did, she responded in all earnestness: “I consider librarians vital to our democracy! You’re on the front lines of the information war.” Agreed!

6. Opportunities for New Librarians
I was extremely grateful to get my first librarian job. But there was a problem: I was bored. For the first six months it seemed like my only “task” was a two hour daily shift at a reference desk. THERE. WAS. NOTHING. ELSE. TO. DO. I stared at my office computer and surfed the web. And it wasn’t like I could drum up my own projects due to being micro-managed. Supervisors: When you hire a new person make sure they have work to do. I know you don’t want to overwhelm them, but trust them with projects. They will do a good a job!

7. Say Yes to New Things
When opportunity knocks, open the door! Get out of your comfort zone. A lot of my growth as a librarian involved taking on new things like coordinating info lit programming, teaching for-credit classes, or implementing 3D printing. Sometimes things are just a fluke: An invitation to do an info lit session for a cultural immersion course led to a trip to Italy with the group! One thing I enjoy as a librarian is that I’m always learning. And new things look good on the ol’ resume, too!

8. Trust Your Instincts
The old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your judgment on people and workplace situations. I was burned once on a job that turned out to be a disaster. I was excited to take it, but there were some warning signs I overlooked (like why I only met my supervisor for a few brief minutes on an “all day” interview). Lesson learned!

9. Failure is a learning experience
You need to get over the belief that failure is a bad thing. Failure is a learning experience that can help you innovate. As a supervisor now, I’ve tried to get co-workers to see that experimentation and failure are OK in the workplace. We’re always in beta mode! So what if the outreach event you planned didn’t pan out? Or the info lit session was bad? Re-tool it and think about how you can make it successful the next time.

10. Impostor Syndrome never goes away
There are still days when I think I’m not qualified to do my job. Part of it is being in higher ed: As an academic librarian I’ve never really considered myself an “academic”–whatever that means. Sometimes I feel like I snuck in to academia. I was the first in my family to to go college and that experience still affects my outlook. At the end of the day, I just have to tell myself “I do belong” here and people know I do a good job.

11. Avoid Negative Co-workers
Easier said than done–especially if the negative person is your supervisor. My one social gift is using some good-natured humor to get around these things. Truth be told: I’m a reactive person–so if everyone around me is negative I will respond with negativity. I’ve had to train myself to step out of the situation. With negative co-workers, I just don’t engage with them. I can converse with them about library-related tasks, but beyond that, I just don’t care about them. Focus instead on keeping yourself in good mental health!

12. You’re an expert, too!
I like that librarians share their knowledge! It has made me such a better librarian. Just following other librarians on Twitter I’ve learned many new ideas, tips, and best practices. Share what you are doing! I’ve been serving on the conference planning committee for my state’s academic library association and have been so grateful to learn from my peers through various presentations and panels and have even presented my own a few times!

13. The “Unicorn Librarian” must die
The job market for librarians has been stagnant (or worse) since I graduated with my MLS in 2002. Libraries and hiring managers take advantage of this by posting what I call “unicorn librarian” positions. You’ve seen them: The job posting demands years of post-MLS experience, additional degrees beyond the MLS (hello, college debt!), multiple foreign languages, computer coding, and more. Instead, we should invest in the training and education of new librarians when hired. Hiring managers: Don’t write job postings just so you don’t have to sift through applications. Lots of talented librarians are qualified for these positions–cast a wider net and you will be pleasantly suprised.

14. Be kind
My default operating mode is set to “kindness.” Maybe empathy is a better word for what I’m trying to describe? I don’t want to make it sound like I’m forcing people to be kind. Other emotions, such as anger, can rightfully be used–especially in situations relating to inequality and justice. But for me, being kind is stepping into someone else’s experiences: Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes…that sort of thing. Note: Kindness should not be construed as being a pushover. Use “tough love” when you need to.

15. Have fun!
Most people flourish in jobs where they can be creative–at least that has always worked for me. So look for experiences that allow for joy, fun, and adventure. Doesn’t matter if you’re focusing on fun with your library users, staff, or your own personal interests–but make it a goal. “Fun” has lead to crazy things like the Lego Library and Librarian Twitter Bingo for me!

Making Sense of Makerspaces: Academic Library Staff Response to a Makerspace

This past August I finished my second master’s degree. For me, it was not a job requirement as an academic librarian (at least in my current position), but for professional development. I had the opportunity to receive my master’s degree in adult and professional education from my employer, tuition-free.

When it came time to do my capstone project I decided to study makerspaces. I manage not a makerspace, but a 3D printing service at my library. For this project, I interviewed three staff members at a liberal arts college on their experiences with a makerspace.

Here’s the TL;DR:
Workload remains the key factor in smaller academic libraries, with one employee often shouldering much of the makerspace work. Training is self-directed. Organizational and teaching abilities are considered the most important skill set. Workload equity and hiring additional staff will foster sustainability of the makerspace.

Below is my full report.


Abstract
As academic libraries transition from repositories of materials to collaborative spaces for learning, investigating niche services will be key. One such service is a makerspace – a place to tinker with technology and explore arts and crafts. This study investigates makerspace impact on library staff at one academic library at a small liberal arts college. In interviews with staff, the conversation focuses on: 1) defining a makerspace, 2) workload, 3) skills and training, and 4) makerspace success. Bolman and Deal’s (2013) four frame leadership model is used as a framework to analyze employees’ views and foster sustainability of the makerspace.

INTRODUCTION

Adapting to cultural and technological changes, libraries now position themselves as community centers, offering an array of educational programs and services. One recent trend has been the adoption of the “maker movement” by libraries. This movement focuses on the do-it-yourself learner, from hobbyists to entrepreneurs, who tinker with new technology such as 3D printing and Raspberry Pi, or traditional items such as crafting supplies and sewing machines, to collaborate with members in their community, university, or school (American Library Association, 2017). Libraries, long noted as a locus for self-directed learning, are a natural fit for a “makerspace” – a place to make “things” (American Library Association, 2015).

My interest in this topic stems from my academic library’s addition of a 3D printer. At the present time, library staff process 3D printing requests for clients. No hands-on learning occurs with students and faculty. We offer no training or workshops. Anecdotal feedback from our 3D printing clients, combined with results of student survey that my library conducted last year, indicate that there is a growing interest in training and education in 3D printing and other maker movement topics.

Statement of the Problem
As the makerspace trend proliferates in libraries, library staff will encounter shifting job duties and new skills that need developing. As an academic librarian, I am interested in answering the question: In what ways do makerspaces affect academic library staff?

Makerspaces, also commonly known as hackerpaces, makerlabs, or fablabs trace their origins to the 1990s when educators began outreach to community members interested in creating or tinkering with materials; the concept took popular hold beginning in the mid to late 2000s (EDUCAUSE, 2013; Mandavilli, 2006). Although no official directory of library makerspaces exists, MakerBridge maintains a self-reporting directory. This online site lists nearly 100 library makerspaces in the United States, including over twenty at academic libraries (School of Information, University of Michigan, 2017). Based on my own professional observations through social media and peer networking at library conferences, the number is likely underreported. This, coupled with the trending rise in library makerspaces necessitates the need for more research. As an emerging topic, current research focuses primarily on the implementation process of library makerspaces–best practices and lessons learned (e.g., Fourie & Meyer, 2015).

Minimal research has been directed toward staff feedback on library makerspaces. The research that does exist usually features brief snippets of interviews with library staff. Koh and Abbas (2015) looked at skills needed by library and museum staff to manage makerspaces. Filar Williams and Folkman (2017) found a need for more staff training in their home state of North Carolina. Moorefield (2015) discovered that staffing models are a concern among some library staff. Interestingly, the research lacks much input from library administrators. This is surprising since one could surmise that large-scale projects like a makerspace do not move forward at a library without the approval of senior administration. From the research, it is obvious that much time is spent in the planning stage, but there is little focus on library staff, post-implementation.

For makerspaces to transition from a trend to a core library service, gathering library staff response to makerspaces — the people who plan, administer, fund, and teach with library makerspaces — will be key. By going deep, this qualitative case study focuses on the staff of one academic library, adding a rich and detailed framework of library staff and library administrators’ experiences with makerspaces. This research benefits academic library staff and administrators in any stage of working with makerspaces, from initial planning to those with successful makerspaces. In today’s budget-conscious climate, it is hoped that findings gained from this study can assist academic libraries in positioning staff and resources for a successful makerspace.

Purpose Statement and Research Questions
The purpose of this study is to describe academic library staff response to a makerspace, post-implementation. The study’s central research question is: In what ways are academic library staff affected by a makerspace? From this, I have developed four sub-questions:

  • In what ways are staff trained for a makerspace?
  • What competencies/skills do staff need to manage makerspaces?
  • In what ways have the job duties of staff changed since a makerspace was added to their library?
  • What criteria do staff use to define success for a makerspace?

Key Definitions
Makerspace staffing, equipment, and programming vary from library to library. Common resources in makerspaces include 3D printing, crafting and art supplies, toys (e.g., Lego blocks), technology (e.g., laser cutter), and mechanical equipment (e.g., sewing machine). Some libraries, like my own academic library, have elements of a makerspace (e.g., 3D printing) but offer no educational programming or collaborative opportunities. These educational activities form the backbone of a true makerspace. Thus, it is important to start with a working definition. EDUCAUSE, the higher education information technology association, offers this definition of a makerspace:

…a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build. Makerspaces provide tools and space in a community environment–a library, community center, private organization, or campus. Expert advisors may be available some of the time, but often novices get help from other users. The makerspace–sometimes referred to as a hackerspace–is often associated with fields such as engineering, computer science, and graphic design (2013).

Since an examination of staffing in an academic library makerspace forms the key component of this study, defining various terms associated with this is important. For the purpose of this study, these definitions will be used:

  • Academic library: As defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (n.d.), “An academic library is the library associated with a degree-granting institution of higher education.” This could include community colleges, technical schools, and colleges and universities from the bachelor’s degree through doctoral levels.
  • Academic library staff: I define this as any employee of an academic library.
  • Professional librarians: Commonly referred to as a librarian. I define this as an academic library employee that holds a master’s degree in library/information science. A professional librarian may or may not be in a supervisory capacity.
  • Support staff: I define this as an academic library employee who commonly holds a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree in any field, and commonly hold titles such as library clerk, library technician, or library assistant.
  • Library administrators: Usually of a subset of professional librarians. I define library administrator as the executive in charge of an academic library. This person often holds the title of library director or library dean.

Theoretical Framework: The Bolman & Deal Model
Makerspaces elicit images of 3D printing and crafting. However, at their essence, makerspaces are about people–from end users to staff. This research primarily investigates the views of academic library staff that work in makerspaces. As such, using a framework that analyzes the complexity of an organization is vital to understanding these employees’ perspectives. Bolman and Deal (2013) developed a four-frame leadership model to classify organizations. Each frame is a “coherent set of ideas or beliefs forming a prism or lens that enables you to see and understand more clearly what goes on from day to day” (p. 41). These four frames include:

  1. Structural frame: Organizations maintain clearly defined roles, relationships, policies, and goals. Efficiency and productivity may be achieved through the appropriate division of labor. Its image of leadership is social architecture. A factory is a metaphor for the structural frame.
  2. Human Resource frame: Organizations exist to serve people’s needs, not the other way around. Employee “fit” is mutually beneficially for both the individual and the organization. Its image of leadership is empowerment. The family is a metaphor for the human resource frame.
  3. Political frame: Organizations consist of collections of individuals and interest groups who hold different views and values. Power comes into play because resources, often minimal, must be allocated–a difficult task. Its image of leadership is advocacy. A jungle is a metaphor for the political frame.
  4. Symbolic frame: Organizations tell a story through myths, rituals, and beliefs. This forms the culture of the organization. This culture can help employees work together. Its image of leadership is inspiration. A carnival, temple, or theater can be a metaphor for the symbolic frame.   

Bolman and Deal point out that to be effective in your organization, you must use “multiframe thinking” (p. 18). Each frame presents ideas and assumptions–essentially a roadmap to make the job easier. However, one frame is not better than other. Effective employees should be able to move between the frames. In referencing Gottschall (2012), Bolman and Deal write:

Each frame tells a different story…but no single story is comprehensive enough to make an organization fully understandable or manageable. Effective managers need frames to generate multiple stories, the skill to sort through the alternatives, and the wisdom to match the right story to the situation (p. 20-21).

By interviewing multiple staff at one site, I hope to see how their “stories” impact the makerspace within their organization.  

LITERATURE REVIEW

Research on makerspaces, particularly focusing on academic libraries is still fairly new. However, it is worth noting that makerspace research on public and K-12 libraries is still applicable to academic libraries because the educational, creative, and collaborative elements remain the same.

Library Space Utilization
Because makerspaces are often the result of re-purposing of library space, there is a large body of research on the changing nature of libraries and space utilization, in general. Colegrove (2013) argues that the transition from print materials to electronic materials leaves libraries with a unique issue: potential open space in the building. With this prime real estate, the author recommends that library staff be proactive in approaching their parent institutions in repurposing space into an inviting and collaborative space lest it be reclaimed or its use dictated by the parent institution. Robinson (2009) emphasizes that for a makerspace to work it must be tied to the needs of the library’s community. This approach will help library staff visualize the makerspace in a positive light. For academic libraries, Bieraugel & Neill (2017) examine student learning behaviors in both library and non-library spaces at a large undergraduate university. They found that a makerspace encouraged the most innovation and creativity among students. Academic libraries, often a central hub for campus, looking at fostering this type of learning may want to adapt spaces such as a makerspace for their library.

Makerspaces and Learning
Although my study focuses on the library staff side of makerspaces, it is important to bring in research on the educational aspects of makerspaces because this affects the training and skills of the library staff, and the makerspace programs offered by the library. Kurti, Kurti, and Fleming (2014) in their research with K-12 school makerspaces emphasize that makerspaces promote deeper learning among students due to the collaborative and exploratory nature. This allows for students to own their learning. Sheridan et al. (2014) in a collective case study investigate how people learn from makerspaces. The authors found that the interdisciplinarity of makerspaces foster creativity and allow people to navigate through different learning approaches. In another study, Halverson & Sheridan (2014) discuss the overall role of education in the maker movement, providing a good theoretical background tied to themes such as informal learning, progressive education, and constructionism. Interestingly, the authors question if the institutionalization of makerspaces will threaten their creativity and note the libraries are likely the best avenue for keeping makerspaces democratized.

Makerspace Operations
Best practices and a “how we did it” approach forms the largest component of library makerspace research. Oliver (2016), focusing on K-12 makerspaces, provided recommendations on makerspace design and set-up, equipment needed, strategies for engaging students, and teaching strategies. Likewise, Fontichiaro (2016), also focusing on the K-12 community, argues that long-term success of makerspaces depends on a three-pronged sustainable model focused on funding, supplies, and staffing. Similarly, Herron and Kaneshiro (2017) detail a systematic process for setting up a makerspace in an academic health sciences library, while Pryor (2014) developed a list of policies and procedures for setting up a 3D printing service in an academic library. Transitioning to public libraries, Lille (2016) developed a list of indicators for success in makerspaces, focusing on increasing participants’ use of new technologies, the number of makerspace events offered, providing participants with access to new technology, and measuring the self-confidence of participants.

Makerspace Staffing
Research on staffing, training and skills needed for library makerspaces is particularly important since this project focuses on staff aspects. In an investigation of 3D printing in a public library, Finley (2016) notes the importance of cross-training staff so that library users are not left waiting for the “expert” to show up. Staff training and delineation in duties will become more common themes as the makerspace trend increases. Research on Australian public library makerspaces by Slatter and Howard (2013) found that for makerspaces to succeed, library staff buy-in is key and must be coupled with professional development opportunities for staff working with makerspaces. This finding highlights the fact that, although ultimately a library exists to support its community, services must have strong staff support. Likewise, Moorefield-Lang (2014) in a collective case study found that most library staff have to seek their own training, as little support is given. Koh and Abbas (2015) developed a list of core competencies and skills needed by library or museum staff who work in makerspaces, while Filar Williams and Folkman (2017) developed a series of in-person and virtual makerspace training sessions in North Carolina. Originally envisioned for library science graduates students, it was quickly expanded to library staff of all types due to demand. The need for training may be impacted by staffing. Moorefield-Lang (2015) conducted interviews with librarians that manage makerspaces and noted that staffing models are a concern. Some libraries have started too big and had to scale back, while others have had to cut services because they do not have enough staff. Researching on staffing helped to form questions used in this study.

PROCEDURES

Methodology and Design
This capstone project employs a qualitative method using a case study as the research design. A case study was chosen because it allows the researcher to provide rich and detailed information, something that the current literature lacks. By deeply researching one case, I hope to transform my own professional practice. Merriam (1998) explains that:

A case study design is employed to gain an in-depth understanding of the situation and meaning for those involved. The interest is in the process rather than the outcomes, in context rather than a specific variable, in discovery, rather than confirmation. (p. 19)

This case study focuses on one academic library staff’s experiences in working with a makerspace. A purposeful sampling technique was utilized. While attending a professional librarians’ conference in spring 2017, I recruited staff at a small liberal arts college library in the midwestern United States. After permission was granted to interview staff, I visited the site in summer 2017 for a tour and conducted semi-structured interviews with: 1) the professional librarian who manages the makerspace, 2) a support staff member who is an instructional technologist that assists with training in the makerspace, and 3) the director of the academic library. By interviewing three categories of employees, I hoped to uncover any differences in philosophy. Each interview was conducted separately and ranged from 30 minutes to one hour.  

Data Gathering and Analysis
Data from the interviews was gathered using a laptop voice recording application, supplemented with handwritten notes. In addition to this, I took photos of the interview site to aid in the description while writing. Audio from the interviews was transcribed using word processing software. I then coded the data by hand since my interview pool was small. This project was exempt from Institutional Review Board approval. However, to protect my interview subjects and to allow for them to talk freely without any potential workplace repercussions, I have assigned pseudonyms to the participants and to the interview site.

FINDINGS

Description of the Site and Interview Subjects
Prairie Banks University (PBU) is a small liberal arts college located in the midwestern United States. With an enrollment of 1,500 full-time equivalent students, PBU is categorized as a Carnegie baccalaureate college with an arts and science focus, and as such, it remains a traditional undergraduate residential university. Like a lot of midwestern college towns, the community that PBU is located in is a mix of traditional manufacturing and service jobs. Owing to PBU’s proximity to the downtown area, the community gives off a college town vibe. The campus has the classic liberal arts college admissions brochure look – green grass, leafy trees, and a few stately buildings mixed in with newer facilities. The faculty to student ratio is low. Throughout the academic year, in additional to regular-length courses, students request “tutorials” for credit — essentially mini-classes — on various topics. Some of these tutorials are taught by professional librarians at PBU, who are considered part of the teaching faculty.

The staff at the PBU library includes the library director – the senior administrator in charge of the library, assisted by a staff of 14: seven professional librarians and seven support staff members divided into traditional academic library functions such as reference, information literacy, archives, technical services, and technology. For this study, three employees were interviewed:

Leanne. A professional librarian, Leanne, manages the library’s makerspace and is the primary point person for teaching and support with the makerspace. She was part of the grant team that brought the makerspace to the library. Employed at PBU for 11 years, her other library duties include reference and research assistance, teaching information literacy sessions, library media services, library website administration, social media marketing, and emerging technologies projects.

Norris. A support staff member, Norris, works as an instructional technologist. Employed at PBU for 11 years, his primary responsibility is to assist faculty with incorporating technology into their teaching. Norris was involved with the grant that brought the makerspace to the library. He devotes time as a makerspace trainer. Norris reports to the director of instructional technology.

Ken. The library director, Ken, has worked at PBU for 27 years. He is Leanne’s direct supervisor. Although personally interested in makerspaces, his management style is fairly hands-off. His primary goal is to support the makerspace with staff and funding, not day to day operations.

Makerspace Visit and Overview
The current library at PBU opened in the 1970s. A squat-looking building located in the center of campus, the main entrance is located down a sidewalk that runs perpendicular to the main thoroughfare through campus. Walking into the library, visitors enter onto the main floor. The circulation desk sits immediately to the left with the reference desk over to the right. The main floor includes a substantial reference collection, a large collection of music scores, various reading rooms, and staff offices. The library includes four upper levels with a mix of book collections, periodicals, study areas, and offices. In addition, the library houses the university’s information technology and instructional technology departments.  

I entered the library early for my appointment with staff with the plan to look around on my own. Upon entry, I looked for signage or wayfinding directing me to the makerspace, but did not notice any. However, Leanne quickly spotted me and came over to welcome me. She then directed me back to the makerspace, tucked away in a corner behind a large imposing wall. An open seating area outside the makerspace welcomes visitors with promotional materials and samples of prints and objects from the makerspace. Card swipe access to the makerspace allows students and faculty who have received makerspace training to access the room any time the library is open.

The makerspace room occupies the library’s former media services unit, which consisted of two offices. When the offices were transformed into a makerspace, a wall was removed to enlarge the space into one room. Counterspace along the walls house various makerspace equipment: PCs for 3D design, two 3D printers, two 3D scanners, an electronic cutter, a sewing machine, a painting and collage station, and a coloring station (e.g., coloring books). Instructions and procedures for using the equipment dot the walls. Supplies are readily available, including 3D printer filament, crafting and art supplies, and tools such as pliers, files for sanding, a hot glue gun, and tape measures.

Primarily operating on a self-service model, the makerspace room remains unstaffed. Students, faculty, and staff wanting to use the makerspace must first make an appointment for a training session conducted by the Leanne, the makerspace librarian; Norris, the instructional technologist; or a student trainer. After completing the training session, users can make an appointment for the equipment in the makerspace. Trained users are given card swipe access to the room. Students, faculty, and staff using the makerspace are asked to record their jobs and any technical issues in a usage log, which Leanne tracks. Troubleshooting is primarily self-mediated by the user through the use of support manuals and instructional directions posted in the room. Leanne also developed an extensive online help guide to direct users. However, both Leanne and Norris readily make themselves available to assist with projects or troubleshooting that require more advanced effort.

The origins of the library’s makerspace date back to when PBU opted to leave a media services staff position vacant following a retirement. The library, left with an unused space in its media services unit, decided to transform it into a hands-on collaborative learning space. Leanne, Norris, and a professor worked to formulate grants to bring a makerspace to the campus that would be open to all university constituents. At the time, one department on campus had makerspace elements (e.g., 3D printing) but usage was limited to students and faculty in that department. The library makerspace would be a central hub for for creativity and collaboration for the entire campus. Initially, the makerspace team sought an internal grant for funding. After that failed, the team successfully applied for and received an external grant of approximately $25,000 to cover makerspace setup, technology and equipment, supplies, and training. The makerspace debuted in Fall 2015.  

Analysis of the Themes

What is a Makerspace? Because the makerspace model can vary from library to library, I opened my conversations with PBU library staff by asking each of them to describe what a makerspace means to them. Perhaps not surprisingly, Ken – as the library director and senior administrator – with his strategic planning responsibilities took a big picture approach:

A makerspace is a model for what the library should be, because I think the whole library is essentially a makerspace. We make things in different ways. I talk about the library being less a warehouse than a laboratory, less a grocery store than a kitchen. It’s a place where we go to make things–where we put things together to make other things…The makerspace is doing this in a more tangible, physical way that libraries have traditionally not done. It’s a way for us to think about how libraries ought to work–so it’s a testbed.

Ken’s response hits at the rapid changes that academic libraries have been facing–the shift from print materials to digital and the centering of the academic library as a collaborative place for students and faculty.

Leanne, perhaps because she is the professional librarian focused on the day to day aspects of the makerspace, emphasized the traditional aspects of a makerspace–namely hands-on learning and creativity. She responded, “I think of it as a place for creating things, not just consuming.” This view, again, reflects the changing nature of the academic library from a place where people use or access materials into a place where people create materials. She went on to say:  

The idea for our space was for people to be able to apply what they are learning into something hands-on and creative, because I know that no matter what your major is, there will always be creative people who want to do more than just read and write papers.

Ken echoed Leanne’s comments about this shift in academic work, stating, “Here on campus we’re hearing less about papers and more about presentations, posters, and projects.” For their makerspace, the staff see it as an extension and outlet for these collaborative types of activities.

Norris, meanwhile, placed himself squarely within the maker movement, explaining that having studied fine arts and art education, that he has always been drawn into creative work. He sees the makerspace as an outlet that combines student creativity with a student need. Norris said, “I’ve had art students, biology students, or chemistry students come in because they have an idea they want to manifest–and the makerspace really supports those endeavors.” He offered this story:

We’ve actually had students – men – who never had a home ec class in their lives, ask if they could learn how to sew [in the makerspace]. They had an idea that they could express themselves in some sort of fabric…that’s what I see as a makerspace.

The views of the PBU library staff reflect the varied viewpoints of professionals in the makerspace community. At its base level, the makerspace is a creative outlet for learning, but at a higher-level, the makerspace model could help inform library-wide practices.

Workload. As makerspaces are added to libraries, monitoring staff workload for equity, analyzing shifting job duties, or identifying cases where a pitch for additional staff could be made, will be important. Workload and staffing formed much of the conversation with the PBU library staff. Leanne, as the professional librarian in charge of the makerspace, shoulders most of the responsibility. Readily admitting that she didn’t necessarily want so many responsibilities, Leanne explained that the makerspace duties fell to her because she was one of the instrumental people on campus pushing for it. In addition, the space that it would occupy — Media Services – fell under her purview.

She has had limited success in getting other staff or students involved. Leanne trained other library staff members but found a lack of support: “they don’t seem interested in taking on additional makerspace responsibilities.” A student group, the Maker Club, functions as another outlet for possible support. Leanne envisioned using a train-the-trainer approach with the students so they could assist her with clients, but the group demonstrated a lack of follow-through and ownership. At the same time, makerspace usage continues to increase. Since it opened, nine courses have used the makerspace for projects. Those nine courses account for over 120 students, all who need to be trained by Leanne, Norris, or a student worker. Although, they often try to group students together for training, these sessions consume a substantial amount of work time. Besides the makerspace, Leanne juggles other duties as a professional librarian:

I do reference. So I’m at the reference desk a couple hours every day. I help with research appointments and classroom instruction [information literacy sessions]…Then I’m also responsible for the library website. When we changed our library catalog over [to a new system], I was responsible for getting that set up and running. We try to have a pretty robust social media presence at the library. The library administrative assistant and I team up on that…I’m also supposed to be on the lookout for emerging technologies. But then this media services stuff became a part of what I do, and then the makerspace. The librarians are considered faculty, so I’ve done tutorials [mini-courses that students take for credit]–so that take up a lot of time.

She remains fairly matter-of-fact about the workload: “I’m open to having others work in [the makerspace] and take on additional responsibilities, but you know how it is in libraries. We often have too many responsibilities as it is.” The amount of work time Leanne needs to set aside for the makerspace can vary, depending on the cyclical nature of the academic year. At some points during the academic calendar, the makerspace accounts for about 40 percent of her work time. During low periods, the amount falls to around 20 percent.

Leanne is clearly dedicated to her growing list of responsibilities and responsive to student and faculty needs. She accomplishes it with cheerfulness, aplomb, and little complaint. However, Ken, the library director and Leanne’s supervisor, recognizes that he may need to make changes, commenting:

Most of the makerspace is falling on [Leanne’s] shoulders…it’s brutal for her to try to do her own job…and all the other stuff we expect…I think we’ll need additional staff. I’m hoping [Leanne] can survive long enough until we get to the point where we can make a strong enough case for hiring somebody else.

For his own part, Ken is fairly hands-off with the makerspace, stating:

I thought I would be more involved because I’m interested in this kind of stuff. I love tinkering with machines, but it just hasn’t panned out. I try to be as supportive as I can in terms of both people time and money…Mostly I’m supportive of people doing good work.

Meanwhile, Norris, as the instructional technologist works primarily with faculty to incorporate technology into their teaching. He is called in to assist with makerspace training sessions. Norris volunteered himself for the additional duties as he has a personal interest in applications such as 3D printing and joined the team, with Leanne, to write the grant. Makerspace duties were officially written into his job description when he oversaw the space while Leanne was on maternity leave. Since the makerspace opened he has seen some of his duties shift from faculty support to student support. However, Norris sees faculty and student support in a symbiotic relationship:

[The makerspace] is a little outside the realm of supporting faculty’s use–but not really–in that a lot of the equipment is new to a majority of faculty. I am able to circulate and talk it up and approach them to get them thinking of sending their students over here for an assignment or some sort of project. [Faculty] want to know how this stuff works and have their students be supported in this work. So I’m enjoying the opportunity to work with more [students] in different ways.

By supporting students, Norris is supporting faculty with their assignments and curriculum that involve the makerspace.      

Skills & Training. Because the makespace was a new addition to the library, investigating how the PBU library staff went about educating themselves and developing a new skill set directly impacts makerspace success and sustainability. Thinking strategically, Leanne and the grant team wrote professional development as part of the grant. This allowed the team to bring in a consultant to teach Leanne and Norris about makerspace equipment and set up. In addition, a highly regarded guest speaker came to talk about higher education and maker pedagogy. In terms of learning, Leanne prefers a mix of auditory and kinesthetic styles of learning:

I do really well with the traditional method of just listening to someone talk and me taking notes, but I do find hands-on to be extremely helpful as well. Honestly, I don’t have much experience with formal learning of equipment. I have always just tinkered around to figure that stuff out.

For Norris, his eyes lit up when describing a trip he took to California to visit one of the United States’ first maker fairs. Through this professional development experience he was able to “get a better sense of who these makers are and what their motivation is. [I] was really blown away by the extent that people are using their hands and intellect to create anything.” Like Leanne, Norris describes himself as a self-directed learner. He talked about problem-solving using online discussion forums for the makerspace equipment. However, in learning about makerspaces, Norris also captured two essential elements: “I’m more of a trial and error person–where I made a lot of mistakes [with 3D printing].” This trial and error approach sits fully within the realm of using a makerspace to explore and create something. In addition, he relayed a story about how he was continually unsuccessful with a 3D print until a group of students stepped in with a suggestion that solved his problem. This demonstrates the collaborative aspect of makerspaces and the concept that all participants can be both teachers and learners.

On the subject of skills needed to manage makerspaces, Leanne, Norris, and Ken all emphasized the organizational aspects. Leanne discussed spending a significant amount of time on organizational or administrative tasks such as developing documentation and the makerspace’s online support guide. However, above all else, she spoke about adaptability:

One of the things I’ve found is to be ok with not knowing how to do something. Just be ok with trying to figure it out either by digging in and taking something apart and putting it back together, or looking through documentation and forums online.

All three touched upon the theme of teaching. Leanne mentioned that the job is more about teaching than troubleshooting, while both Norris and Ken said the job required good teachers. Norris stated, “The best teachers are those that are excited about the subject matter, so that would be a value.” Likewise, both Norris and Ken identified patience as a skill, with Ken commenting: “You have to be willing to be patient to help other people use something for the first time. [The makerspace] has a lot of moving parts and isn’t something that [clients] necessarily learned growing up.” Ken also recommended that as a general rule, library staff that manage makerspaces, should have the skill set as identified by research conducted by Koh & Abbas (2015) that includes management, program development, grant writing/fundraising, technological literacy, and learning facilitation.    

Makerspace Success. How do you know if your makerspace is successful? Leanne, Norris, and Ken rely primarily on usage statistics. Leanne requires students to record their projects on usage logs and she uses the data to determine if students were successful. If not, she or Norris can intervene with the students and provide assistance. Likewise, Ken, as the library director, pays attention to numbers and uses them for his current metrics: how many items are printed, how many items are made, number of class visits. He readily admits that the staff will need to start thinking about long-term goals soon. Norris compares activity in the makerspace when it first opened to activity now, almost two years later:

I guess the fact that initially we had to recruit makers–we had to, in effect–assign students with projects and since that introduction and forced participation, the numbers just continue to go up. Students are coming in on their own…We just sort of put [the makerspace] out there and [students] are coming.

Success can also be tied to client responsiveness. Norris relayed the story about male students wanting to use a sewing machine. Leanne purposely added it as a piece of makerspace equipment to counter stereotypes that makerspaces primarily appeal to male audiences. As usage of the makerspace has increased, students have sought out Leanne for tutorials (mini-courses where students receive credit) on 3D printing with new students coming up to her saying, “Hey, I heard you did a 3D tutorial last year?” Leanne enjoys this and generally agrees to offer more tutorials. Anecdotes such as this help demonstrate the makerspace as a successful addition to the library.

DISCUSSION

Discussion of Findings and Comparisons to Other Studies
To make sense of makerspaces, I opened my interviews with the question: What does a makerspace mean to you? Although some research points to makerspaces as comprising of educational programming and training (Kurti, Kurti, & Fleming, 2014), Leanne did not view that as a requirement. This reflects the views of Sheridan, et al. (2014) who argue that makerspace participants can learn independently or informally with peers; it does not need to be via formal training. Norris, with his background in art and technology, embodies the spirit of a maker and brings those practices to the makerspace. He is not bothered by the fact that a lot of the students use the makerspace for “fun” (e.g., non-academic or personal purposes) because he knows that there is still learning involved within the process. This dovetails with research by Rosenfeld Halverson and Sheridan (2014) that argues we should re-think what counts as learning. Likewise, when it comes to “re-thinking,” Ken’s commentary on the whole library as a makerspace points to examples that other academic libraries are doing, including the successful Hunt Library at North Carolina State University. Hunt Library was named a landmark library by Library Journal for its innovative services for collaboration, learning, and technology (Puckett Rodgers, 2016). The idea that the makerspace can lead to other collaborative and innovative practices in the library – to be a testing ground – for the entire library is a provocative view.    

Workload formed the bulk of the conversation with the PBU library staff. As academic libraries add makerspaces, it will be interesting to see if library administrators:

  1. carve out new opportunities by adding staff,
  2. shift employees’ responsibilities, or
  3. let the mantra “other duties as assigned” become the usual work practice.

Leanne carries the weight of a large majority of the makerspace work. She juggles it with a diverse set of other library responsibilities from research assistance to technology. Her scenario lines up with research by Moorefield-Lang (2015) that discovered most makerspaces are primarily one-person operations. Related to this is a trend in libraries to carve out niche areas, like a makerspace, for an employee, and then saddle that person with all of the responsibility, but little support. This can ultimately lead to failure for both the library service and the employee. Gavia Libraria (2011) terms this trend “Coordinator Syndrome.” In some ways, Leanne’s job reflects this. Conceding that she did not necessarily want so many responsibilities, she nevertheless performs them all in a commendable manner. However, the workload may not be sustainable in the long run. Moorefield-Lang (2014) discovered that workload was a key factor with some library staff reporting that makerspace services floundered because no staff member had full-time responsibility for the makerspace. This is something that the PBU library will need to investigate to ensure sustainability of the makerspace.  

As working professionals, neither Leanne or Norris were specifically trained during their formal university education for makerspaces. In fact, makerspaces did not exist. Skills were gained through on the job training. This mirrors the experiences of most library staff working with makerspaces. Moorefield-Lang (2015) found that library staff consulted online forums and that library staff with an “adventurous spirit” (p. 110) tended to be more successful. Leanne and Norris embody this adventurous spirit. Both discussed the willingness to tinker around with equipment and to use a trial and error approach. Norris, particularly, relied on peers–which in the makerspace environment includes students–to troubleshoot issues and learn new skills. As far as specific skills needed to manage a makerspace, Leanne, Ken, and Norris all touched upon organizational and teaching skills. These are two of the skill sets developed by Koh and Abbas (2015) as essential to employees who manage makerspaces. Incidentally, the other areas – grant writing, technological literacy, and program development – were themes that one or more the PBU library staff addressed during the interview. Ultimately, to be successful at developing the appropriate skill set, libraries need to afford staff with the opportunity to learn. At the PBU library, this has been accomplished through a variety of outlets including on the job training, self-directed learning, professional conferences, consultants, and guest speakers.

The PBU library makerspace primarily relies on usage statistics (e.g., how many clients, how many projects) to constitute success. While usage statistics are important, they remain a very basic metric. Ken alluded to this by stating the need to think about long-term goals. Lille (2016) developed several indicators for makerspace success, including assessing users’ ability with new technologies. However the research remain slim. At the same time, as higher education shifts to a more evidence-based model, demonstrating the value of the makerspace will become key. The Association of College and Research Libraries (2010) developed a report outlining how to tie academic library services to student success, learning, and engagement. Some examples, detailed by Oliver (2016), include online portfolios and student reflection pieces. Collaborating with faculty and students to measure this should provide the library with powerful data and stories to illustrate success. In turn, this data could be used in lobbying for additional funding or employees.

Application of Study to Theoretical Framework
Bolman and Deal’s (2013) leadership model, used to analyze organizations, offers four distinct prisms to look at the PBU library makerspace: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. It is clear, in talking with Leanne, Norris, and Ken, that workload plays a large factor with the library makerspace, particularly with Leanne. This naturally lends a look through the structural, human resource, and political frames of Bolman and Deal. Because of my limited time with the PBU library staff, it would not be appropriate to analyze through the symbolic frame which requires an in-depth understanding of the organization’s culture–which in and of itself could be a separate research study.

When viewed through the the structural frame, one sees that as a small academic library, the organizational structure is relatively flat. Employees perform many different tasks. However, one of the hallmarks of the structural frame is the appropriate allocation of work (Bolman & Deal, 2013). Based on Leanne’s description of her varied work duties combined with Ken’s comment that he hopes Leanne can “survive” clearly indicates a need to look at the structural balance at the library.

Along these same lines, the human resources frame looks at people within the organization. It is all about finding the right fit (Bolman & Deal, 2013). Leanne’s current workload with the makerspace, although performed admirably, runs the risk of bordering on exploitative. The library has received Leanne’s energy and motivation for her job for the past 11 years. This should not be a one-way street. The library clearly invested their trust in Leanne in developing the makerspace, now is the time to fulfill her request for additional staff.

For the PBU library, the political frame is less clear cut. This frame deals with differences among individuals and coalitions who hold different values and views. Conflict may arise when scarce resources are allocated (Bolman & Deal, 2013). For the library’s part, many of these “scant” resources would be doled out by the larger institution – the university. Issues with workload would easily be solved if the library had the full resources – budget and employees – that it needed. Ken discussed about needing “argue” for or lobby the university for an additional employee to assist Leanne. The library would be wise to build upon the strong reputation that the makerspace has. This power may ultimately help them build a successful case for additional resources.    

Limitations and Further Research
Owing to the fact that I interviewed three people at one site, I cannot draw large-scale conclusions on the state of academic library makerspaces. Rather, this small scale qualitative study could be used to develop questions for a larger, quantitative study. Because the library science field lacks quantitative research on academic library makerspaces, perhaps a survey addressing the themes in this research could be used as a starting point. In addition, because this is a new service in many academic libraries, as makerspaces become more popular, the number of potential sites and interviewees to study will increase.

Overall Significance of the Study
As an emerging topic in academic libraries, this research provides a large-scale exploration of makerspaces at one site. Addressing themes such as staff workload, and skills and training, are not only important to makerspaces, but to the evolving mission of the academic library in the twenty-first century.

CONCLUSION

As makerspaces develop from a trend to a core service in an academic library, its impact on library staff will be vital to ensure success and sustainability of the makerspace. This study investigated makerspace impact on library staff at one academic library at a small liberal arts college. In interviews with three library staff members, the conversation focused on: 1) defining a makerspace, 2) workload, 3) skills and training, and 4) makerspace success. Findings indicate that workload remains the key factor, with one employee shouldering much of the makerspace work. Training is self-directed, while organization and teaching are considered the most important skills needed. Using Bolman and Deal’s (2013) four frame leadership model, it can be argued that a reallocation of workload and hiring additional staff will foster sustainability of the makerspace.

REFERENCES

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How a LibGuide Got Me to Italy

OK, well that headline might be a bit of an exaggeration..but just slightly. Let me explain.

In 2016, a professor at the university I work at was offering a cross-cultural experience course (a short-term study abroad) in Italy–all about travel writing. He asked one of our library staffers to help chaperone. This library staffer then told the professor that I should make a LibGuide for the course.

Students meet once per week in the semester before the travel for an introduction into the culture and history of the place they will be visiting. In preparation for the experience, students gather outside sources about the culture.

So I had some fun and did a LibGuide. I gathered up articles, books, and websites on travel writing, Italian traditions and culture, and info on the locales that students would be visiting. I’m not yea or nay on LibGuides–sometimes they are appropriate, sometimes not…just another useful tool in my librarian tool belt. In this case, it was an appropriate venue to organize the information.

Italy course LibGuide

Italy course LibGuide

I worked with the professor to schedule an information literacy session. Students liked the resources I put together and I shared my own experiences of visiting Rome as a college student.

The professor was effusive about the LibGuide and thanked me for creating it.

“You mean if I find a resource that might be helpful for the students, you could possibly add it to the LibGuide?”

Me: YES!

So 2017 rolls around. This time, the professor was going to be doing two sections of his Italy course and wanted to know if I would be willing to chaperone one of them.

Umm…yeah!

So in Spring semester 2017, I visited the students again for an info lit session and used the LibGuide. I tweaked it based off of the new itinerary the groups would be doing.

The professor and another chaperone took the first group of students over to Italy for three weeks. Then the chaperone and the first group flew back to the US.

Then it was my turn. On June 8, I met students at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, distributed their Euro stipend, and off we went to Florence, Italy, connecting through Zurich. We met the professor at the Florence airport.

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Florence

Herding students? No problem. Try getting 50+ faculty to schedule their required info lit sessions!

I loved getting to know the students. It was nice to put a name to face. I often saw the students in the library beforehand, but didn’t necessarily know them.

The three weeks in Italy was an absolute blast. I did some blogging on my travel site. We were based in Florence and saw all the big sites like the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and the Michelangelo’s David.

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Florence: Duomo

One day in Florence, we took a cooking class. We got to eat the pasta that the students made! For some, it was their first time as cooks.

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Florence cooking class

Venturing out from Florence on day trips, we visited enchanting Venice, under-the-radar Bologna, and beautiful Siena.

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Rialto Bridge, Venice

Naturally, the wine lover in me enjoyed our trip to Chianti country for a bit of history and winemaking…possibly my favorite day of the trip.

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Chianti country

During some free time, I made a solo trip to Pisa, and then with a small group of students, toured Milan.

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Milan: Cathedral

In my role as chaperone, I handled administrative matters (paperwork, travel, tickets, chief counter of students…), so the professor could focus on teaching.

But after 21 beautiful Italian days, it was time to come home. Summer seemed a bit short after I returned, but you’ll get no complaints from me! It was a privilege to join the professor and students.

Here are some photos from the Italy trip:

For more Italy pics, check out my Flickr album.