A Very Brief History of Libraries and Maker Space

As I continue to prepare for my upcoming course on maker spaces in libraries, and as I continue talking about the role of maker spaces in libraries, I am reminded of one very important detail about our history.  You see, the maker and DIY movement in the United States can trace their history back in parallel with the founding of libraries in the United States.

Two figures stand out when discussing the birth of libraries in the United States.  Yes, I’m talking about Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  Both of these men sowed the seeds for what would eventually become the modern free public library.  What is extremely fascinating is that both of these men were also makers.  They were die-hard tinkerers and DIYers.  And much of what they learned, created and invented is the result of the libraries that they created and supported.

The Library Company that Franklin helped create in 1731 was so much more than just a library of books.  Did you know that it also housed geological specimens, scientific instruments, an air pump, and telescopes and microscopes that were frequently used?  This was a library in the sense of warehousing books, yes, but it was also a true maker space.  Members met there to talk “shop” hack new inventions, share ideas and teach each other.  Heck, nine of the library members / makers went on to hack one of the greatest inventions of all time, American independence.

Maker spaces and libraries have an intertwined symbiotic relationship in the United States.  It is a relationship that can be traced all the way back to birth of this nation.  When I am asked if libraries should have maker spaces, I remind the questioner that American libraries have always had maker spaces.  In many ways a library cannot exist without a maker space and a maker space cannot exist without a library.

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. – Benjamin Franklin

And note that the investment in knowledge can come through the solitary endeavor of the mind through reading, or through the act of creating and hacking the world in which you live.



Great Event: TC Minne-Faire #scumakers

Hi all,

I’m super busy planning guest lectures and site visits for our upcoming Content Creation course focusing on maker spaces and digital media labs, but I wanted to let you know about an awesome pre-class event.  The Hack Factory in Minneapolis will be hosting their 5th annual Minne-Faire (May 31st & June 1st).  This is a smaller version of the Maker Faire, where creators, tinkerers, and DIYers show off their awesome projects.  I highly encourage you to check it out.  For more information visit their site

Greetings LIS 7993 #scumakers

Hi All,

We are still about 6 weeks away from class starting, but I am hard at work.  I’m thinking about ways to make this class meaningful to you and your future patrons.

I’ve created this space to provide a single personal learning network for our maker space and digital media lab class.  I hope this space serves as a repository for all we are learning, a jumping off point for each of your learning journey blogs, and a way for us to communicate outside of D2L and other closed learning systems.

I am really looking forward to this class.  I think we will all engage in a do-it-together journey together.  Before we get a chance to create our own mission and manifesto, I thought I would share this to kickstart our class:

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 10.33.02 PMScreen Shot 2014-04-25 at 10.33.23 PM

From the Maker Space Manifesto

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