The Maker Movement: Hands On Learning for All Ages

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Despite living at the height of the information age with unimaginable quantities of information flowing towards us, we have a visceral need to push back and create… formulate our own questions and build things big and small, quiet and loud, functional and aesthetic. Creation reinforces learning and sparks innovation; it builds problem-solving and collaboration skills; it empowers the maker; and it fosters community around education. Libraries have always been hubs of self-directed learning and their embrace of the maker movement is no surprise, but what they offer can truly amaze.

The Bubbler at Madison Public Library is a community-driven, system-wide maker program that harnesses the talents of Madison artists and craftspeople to demonstrate, teach, share and inspire. From art car derby to printmaking to audio recording, the Bubbler offers something for every interest, and a way for everyone to tap into their inner maker. The Bubbler has also become a destination, offering after school programming for teens and after hours events for adults. It’s the new cool.

Innovation Space at University of Maryland Baltimore’s Health Sciences and Human Services Library extends research, instruction and learning with its 3D printing and scanning capabilities. Need a 3D model of a cross-section of the human body? A receptacle to grow cells? This and more has been demonstrated by faculty at Innovation Space, using the products to explore how technology innovation can improve scientific understanding and science instruction.

Rather than feeding information about science to students, the MakerSpace at Lehigh Southern Middle School equips students to “DO” science, choosing their own projects, setting their own pace, and managing their own outcomes. The MakerSpace supports the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiatives and furthers the library’s mission to be a place of discovery and self-guided learning.

Is your library innovating with makerspaces? Share your story with us by emailing

Learn more about how libraries are innovating in response to societal trends on the Libraries Transform website.

Visit ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries for an indepth view into the impact of societal trends on libraries.

Center for the Future of Libraries

The Center for the Future of Libraries works to identify trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve; promote futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future; and build connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues. Learn more at