This project, an off-shoot to the MakEY project, is led by Dr Liz Chesworth, and is funded by the University of Sheffield’s Knowledge Exchange and Impact Opportunities (KEIO) Scheme.
This project aims to:
- Work with three library services (Barnsley, Sheffield and South Shields) to provide makerspace workshops for 3-8 year-olds and their families.
- Compare and contrast the success and challenges of the workshops in relation to the nature of each library context e.g. pop-up makerspace, permanent provision, drop-in event, bookable session, etc.
- From these workshops, develop a set of guidelines and resources that can be used by other library services who wish to develop makerspaces for children aged 3-8 and their families.
- Collaborate with the Libraries Taskforce, DCMS, to disseminate the materials to libraries nationally via a national conference and through newsletters, blogs etc.
The Libraries Taskforce, in its strategy document Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021, emphasises the role of libraries in supporting delivery of 7 Outcomes in the community. A number of these are relevant to this project, including: Outcome 1 – Cultural and Creative Enrichment; Outcome 3 – Increased Digital Access and Literacy; and Outcome 4 – Helping Everyone Achieve Their Full Potential. In particular, the document describes the aspiration that, by 2021, “people see libraries as local creative hubs where exploration, experimentation, pursuing of cultural interests, and making are encouraged” and “people perceive public libraries as being places they can go to co-create and share expertise using cutting edge technology, for example, through makerspaces”.
The role of makerspaces in libraries also featured strongly in the government’s Digital Strategy (published in March 2017) in recognition of their value and impact in helping people develop high level digital skills while democratising access to the latest technology. In it, the government has committed to ‘bring together people from across sectors to collaborate and support the expansion of makerspaces in public libraries in England’. CMS (via the Libraries Opportunities for Everyone (LOFE innovation fund) have invested £1,424,151 in makerspaces in libraries in this financial year. This area, therefore, is a key element of the national strategy.
This project will conclude by providing a range of tried and tested materials for use by all library services, and by attracting younger children to libraries, who are a key target audience. The project will encourage young children and their families to visit libraries, and research indicates that early use of libraries is beneficial for ensuring longer-term use of provision.
The project will be undertaken during the summer and early autumn of 2018, and will report in a conference on November 7th in Sheffield.