Maker Movement

Do-it-yourselfers, tinkerers, hackers, entrepreneurs, and interested learners are finding opportunities to make what they want and determine their own creative paths. Makers take advantage of the availability of new technology and traditional craft tools, improved communication between community members, and new pathways to the marketplace (sharing economies, e-commerce, crowdsourcing).

How It’s Developing

Easier access to tools (3D printers, laser cutters, design software) and components (circuit boards, sensors) provide individuals with opportunities to invent and create in ways that might previously have been limited to manufacturers or businesses. [1] This access, coupled with easier forms of communication (online spaces that allow individuals to come together around shared passions, expertise, or questions) and distribution (e-commerce sites), have created communities of makers. The community of makers, and the ability to tap into different skill sets and knowledge levels, has become as valuable as the tools and components themselves. [2]
Makerspaces or hackerspaces provide places in the community where individuals can gather, use shared equipment, and learn. Make: magazine provides an annual list of the most interesting makerspaces around the country, including both for-profit and non-profit operations and spaces affiliated with universities, libraries, and schools. [3] Websites like, which has begun compiling a worldwide directory of makerspaces, and, which includes a directory of maker programs and resources for educators, have helped encourage the maker movement in communities around the world.

Maker advocates see opportunities to develop important new skills, including design, programming, media creation, website development, and entrepreneurship. [4] One particular opportunity for growth is the promotion of the maker movement to children and students with kits and toys that develop early building and programming skills. [5]

Why It Matters

Libraries, traditionally collecting institutions that provide access to materials created by others, may now adopt new functions, providing communities with opportunities to create or co-create content for an individual’s own use, for use by the community, or for inclusion in the library collection. [6]
Local governments may capitalize on the maker movement as an opportunity to revitalize manufacturing, build small businesses, attract investment, or even revive neighborhoods or centers. [7]
Makerspaces may provide libraries, which have long been available to community and small businesses, with new opportunities to further technological innovation and entrepreneurship in the community. [8]
There could be a distinct difference in the development of libraries, between those focused on the collection, where the library acts as a place to come to assimilate information, acquire knowledge, enjoy art, and be entertained, and those focused on creation, where the library becomes a place where media is created by the availability of equipment and facilities to help creators create. [9]
Schools, colleges and universities may adopt maker practices that provide hands-on learning activities for students. [10] In higher education, making may already play a role in specific disciplines like engineering or art, but it may also become a more important part of journalism, health and medicine, and business. [11]

Examples from Libraries

Madison Public Library - The Bubbler

University of Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library - Innovation Space

King County Library System - ideaX Makerspace

Is you library innovating with the maker movement? Please let us know.

Notes and Resources

[1] “The Maker’s Manual,” Reports, PSFK Labs, updated September 2015, available from

[2] “The Maker’s Manual,” Reports, PSFK Labs, updated September 2015, available from

[3] “Most Interesting Makerspaces in America,” Make, July 29, 2014, available from

[4] “Why Your Library May Soon Have Laser Cutters and 3-D Printers,” Clive Thompson, Wired, September 2, 2014, available from

[5] “The Maker’s Manual,” Reports, PSFK Labs, updated September 2015, available from

[6] “Future of the Library and Information Science Profession: Collecting Institutions,” Australian Library and Information Association, published 2013, available from

[7] “The Maker’s Manual,” Reports, PSFK Labs, updated September 2015, available from

[8] “High-Tech Maker Spaces: Helping Little Startups Make It Big,” Jon Kalish, All Tech Considered, National Public Radio, April 30, 2014, available from

[9] Confronting the Future: Strategic Visions for the 21st Century Public Library, Roger E. Levien, (Chicago: American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy, 2011), available from

[10] "The Maker Movement: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants to Own the Future," Sylvia Martinez, Edutopia​, October 1, 2014. available from

[11] "Inaugural 'Maker' Summit Attendees Rethink Modern Higher Education," Sharon Keeler, ASU News, October 24, 2014, available from