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Thursday, October 5 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Bringing Making to Rural and Small Libraries: Design Hypotheses for Youth Maker Program Development

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Small town libraries are beginning to promote Connected Learning through Maker-oriented programming to encourage youth to participate in hands-on, creative activities such as coding, crafting, multimedia design, etc. However, the design guidelines and models for how libraries serving smaller communities have yet to be specified.

This paper reports on work from a design-based research project that has sought to address that need. In partnership with three middle school libraries and one public community library, we have been designing and co-implementing Maker programs and seeking ways to build on youths’ interests and experiences. Our data sources included extensive naturalistic observations, interviews with librarians, records from our program development activities, and photographic documentation of youth maker activities. 

Thus far, we have been developing and testing multiple design hypotheses for encouraging youth participation in small community and school library Maker-oriented spaces. For instance, one hypothesis has been that encouraging use of the library as a transgressive space where behavioral norms typically expected of youth can be violated supports youth willingness to participate in library-based Maker programming. Indeed, we are observing that among the libraries we have partnered with, those that have programs that allow students to go barefoot, sit on tables, and hide in small corners of the library have consistently higher turnout and surprising moments of creative activity. Another design hypothesis we have proposed relates to the drop-in nature of library programs. Part of the appeal of library Maker programs appears to be that they allow for late arrivals and do not presume prior experience. In recognizing that attendees at small town youth library programs were inconsistent and arrived at different times depending on when they could get a ride, we have found that making explicit beginner pathways visible for such youth to be important to program implementation.

This presentation will share some of these design hypotheses and the programs and materials that have been produced, with the hope that they can inform and promote similar efforts at other libraries in smaller towns and communities in the future.


Thursday October 5, 2017 4:00pm - 4:30pm PDT
Emerald Bay B