Thinking Differently About Staffing Structure
The Westport Public Library Makerspace shows us that the work of a makerspace does not need to be carried out solely by dedicated staff. In fact, in order to find the expertise to manage and facilitate their maker-based learning experiences, the library has had to reach out to a diverse set of people—including some of their youngest patrons. While volunteers, part-time staff and partnerships have allowed them to rethink the staffing structure for the makerspace, the library is well aware that involving a wide array of community members allows the makerspace to thrive.
Facilitating Creatively Without Staff or Space
The Learning Technologies Center at the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) knows that lack of full-time staff and dedicated space are not insurmountable barriers to integrating making into an organization’s learning experiences. SMM is able to galvanize enough participation from volunteers to carry out these learning experiences on a regular basis. The growing number of volunteers and their thoughtful assignments to appropriate activities underscores the important role that people, facilitation and interactions have on supporting learning through making. Whether they are demonstrating an activity, explaining, trouble-shooting or providing encouragement, the volunteers provide the backbone of SMM’s maker-based learning experiences.
Building the Capacity of Staff to Facilitate Experiences
The work of the Arkansas Discovery Network and the Oklahoma Museum Network provide useful examples of how each educator or museum is not alone in developing their own or their staff’s facilitation capacities. By leveraging the resources of a network, whether it be in-state or across a more remote community of practice, we are able to provide learning opportunities for educators to improve and deepen what it means to support learners of making in museums and libraries.