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.

Librarians reimagine book clubs with the help of technology

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Libraries have long embraced the reading public and provided public forums for book discussion, long before talk-show host Oprah Winfrey renewed interest in book clubs in 1996.

In our more modern, connected, and ever-busy age, however, traditional library book clubs have been undergoing a quiet revolution. Lack of time, scheduling conflicts, mobility issues, desire for anonymity, and other factors have moved the conversation online—namely onto social media.

Tech-savvy librarians aware of these trends are using emerging technologies to both enhance physical book clubs and to replace them with online ones.

Video game champions in the public library

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For some, the image of the public library is one of quiet spaces and dusty hardback books, but for a handful of Massachusetts librarians, the term evokes something quite different: The preservation of video games.

Four such librarians work within the Minuteman Library Network, a consortium of 43 tax-funded institutions across MetroWest Massachusetts, just outside Boston. Their respective philosophies are unique, but they all agree that one of the public library's most sacred tasks is to archive cultural artifacts and video games - just like books, music, and film - fit that bill.

Paperless Libraries: When the Stacks Disappear

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That’s the question a lot of people were asking even before Bexar County, Texas, opened its all-digital library, dubbed BiblioTech, on September 14. The bookless facility serves an unincorporated area outside of San Antonio, offering more than 10,000 titles available for digital download and 100 e-readers on loan, as well as computer stations, digital literacy classes, and a coffee shop.

BiblioTech will allow the county to open a library in an area that previously had none, for less money and in less space than it would cost to open a facility with physical materials.

Women, Mobility, and Libraries

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Long before there were such devices as smartphones and tablets—or personal computing, for that matter—women in librarianship were bringing reading material to people beyond the four walls of a physical library. As Women’s History Month draws to a close this March, American Libraries celebrates the library workers, most ofthem women, whose mobile devices for delivering literacy consisted of wagons and horses bearing books door to door in rural America.