One-Question Survey
One-Question Survey and Followup: Makerspace Philosophies

Makerspaces provide perfect opportunities for collaboration, advocacy, and unique experiences. As Jen Gilbert reported on our One-Question Survey about school librarians' philosophy on makerspaces, answers fell into one of five categories: free range, guided, structured, all of the above, or I don't have a makerspace. Here, I want to specifically address the 38% of respondents who said they didn't have a makerspace and discuss foundational practices for starting a makerspace in your library.

Why Have a Makerspace?

Makerspaces are a real thing. Diana Rendina defines a makerspace as "a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools and materials" ( A makerspace encourages students to be creative and play. When school librarians incorporate makerspaces into the library space, they open up opportunities that some students may never experience. Through making, school librarians can collaborate with students and teachers to connect to creative endeavors and STEM activities. Further, a makerspace is a great community outreach tool that also allows us to advocate for school libraries through a unique program.


So you have decided to develop your own makerspace? GREAT IDEA! There are some amazing educators who have gone before us and curated some terrific resources. I suggest reading up on their ideas and learning about how they got started.

I am lucky enough to have a fully stocked makerspace. However, these are the five products I would explore first if I was just starting this adventure.

Foundational Practices

The beginning of any endeavor can be intimidating. If at all possible, allow your students and teachers to take the lead. Give your students opportunities that support the standards we want them to achieve. Develop ideas for regular classroom collaborations and do not be afraid to play ( I think of play as a strategy and a mindset to learn. Play does not necessarily mean fun, trivial, or easy. We don't have to be experts at everything we offer to our students, we just have to give them the time to play and explore their own passions and interests.

The best part about making, creating, art, or whatever we decide to call it, is that it does not have one definition. We all try to make the best decisions we can for our students and library programs. As this school year comes to an end and we enter a time when we have a few moments for reflection, think about the place making could have in your library. There is no right or wrong! Don't be afraid to give makerspaces a try.

About the Author

James Allen is Statewide School Library Lead and a digital learning coach for the Kentucky Department of Education. Previously, he was teacher librarian and EDhub Director at Eminence Independent, a K–12 public school in Kentucky. He is an organizer and regular moderator of #KyLChat, which gives librarians across Kentucky a place to share and explore new ideas. He is also a co-founder of the #KyGoPlay movement, which is changing the way people think about libraries, makerspaces, and play in school. James is a Google for Education Certified Innovator. He is also a past president of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians.

MLA Citation Allen, James. "One-Question Survey and Followup: Makerspace Philosophies." School Library Connection, May 2019,

View all citation styles

Entry ID: 2199263

Back to Top