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Recap: 2017 PA Forward Information Literacy Summit 
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the
PA Forward Information LIteracy Summit at Penn State University in State College, PA. The focus of yesterday's conference, according to their website, was:

"libraries and maker culture, and will be relevant to any librarians interested or involved in teaching and learning, including academic, public, school, and special librarians, and other educators."

As a new Maker Librarian, this really appealed to me. I have a great space, but I don't feel like I have the curriculum or data to really back up what I am doing. So I went into the conference hoping for some specific tips and strategies for making my Makerspace more curriculum-ready.

The keynote speaker was Heather Moorefield, professor of LIS at USC. She focused on what other libraries are doing with Makerspaces, especially in the realm of mobile makers. Here are some examples of what she shared:

Photo courtesy of

The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC.

This is probably the coolest Makerspace I have ever seen. It started out as a small art-focused Makerspace and has now grown to a recycle center, artist studio, music production area, and educational outreach for the library.

Image result for DH Maker Bus
Photo courtesy of

The DH Maker Bus in London, Ontario.

The story behind this one is that a group of teachers wanted to head to a conference, and figured it was cheaper just to buy an old bus and use it rather than get plane tickets, etc. Eventually, it became The Maker Bus. Their tag line is: 

Learn like a maker. Think outside the box. Be FUN-conventional

Does it get any cooler?

Image result for the frysk lab
Photo courtesy of

FryskLab in Fryslan, Netherlands

(make sure to run it through Google Translate)

This is SUCH a cool idea! The FryskLab travels within the community delivering instruction and providing access to technology tools that patrons might not otherwise be able to access. 

Other than cool examples of MakerSpaces, my biggest takeaway from the keynote was that Makerspaces have to match the community and the need. I do have a 3D printer, but that might not be worthwhile in other communities. I don't have a button maker, but I am not sure I can match that to our curriculum and standards.

Session 1: A Making Curriculum
Presented by @pmsdlibrary

My first session was led by two librarians from local district Penn Manor. It was neat to see other Lancaster County school librarians! These two ladies did a great job sharing their experience this year with designing a "making curriculum" that both 1) covered their library standards, and 2) provided open-ended opportunities for students to create and make.

They shared their yearly scope and sequence, which was really helpful to me.

They also shared their big Maker projects for each grade level, which included creating your own Wild West scenario, a zoo, and a space station. The best part about these is that they were each connected with a children's book. They recommended Novel Engineering as a starting point for re-creating this kind of thing (connecting literature with engineering).

We ended the session by reading:

and then we had to create something using a set of tools that were given to us (straws, Magnatiles, K'nex, etc) that would help the hen complete her tasks without any help from the other animals. My team ended up with Magnatiles, and we created a factory that included all of the necessary stations for making bread:
* an indoor greenhouse for growing the wheat
* an underground irrigation system
* an automated mixing machine
* a kneading machine
* a giant oven that vents to the outside
* a distribution center with trucks for shipping the bread

Here is our plan and our finished product (love the LAUNCH/DESIGN approach here)

So much fun! I have Magnatiles in my library, but never thought about connecting them with literature and giving students a task to complete WITH the tiles. I also love that we had to do the planning ahead of time before we started to build.

Session 2: Developing a Digital Media Lab & Makerspace
Presented by Chester County Library & John W. Jacobs Technology Center

This session was really aimed at public librarians who are looking to implement a community Makerspace and/or digital media lab. It focused on a LITA grant that the library won and then implemented a large renovation project that incorporated a Makerspace. It was a nice session, but it didn't really resonate with me as a school librarian. Still, I got a few takeaways:

  • What does a digital media lab look like in a school setting? Is this something I need/want for my middle school students?
  • A button maker machine? Didn't even know this existed.
  • Instructables
Photo courtesy of

    • I am going to park here for a minute. What is this fabulousness? It's like tons of free PD on any topic you can imagine. Like meat? There's a whole class about it. Want to learn Raspberry Pi? Got it. I mean seriously, I cannot believe I haven't heard of this before. Guess where I'm spending the rest of my summer...

I also got some good reminders about grant writing and keeping up with all of the pieces. I just won a hefty grant from my district, so this was a great refresher.

So there is my wrap-up of the PA Forward Literacy Conference. I'm glad I went...I got to touch base with some librarians I wouldn't normally meet. I was able to check out the ridiculously amazing Paterno Library on Penn State. And I ate some pretty good tacos for lunch. A good day!

Photo courtesy of


  1. I had a maker day in a masters course that I taught last fall. I was very overwhelmed with the options and what to do. Since it was just one session within the course as a whole I found myself stumped! We ended up making 25 word stories and blackout poems. I know that's not what you normally see in the maker movement, but: (a) it was a class on literacy instruction and (b) I thought it was good to show that you could have students make something without a lot of materials. It worked well!

  2. I think blackout poetry is a perfect example of low-tech Making!! We did spine poetry with 7th grade last year. It was loud, messy, and AWESOME.


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