Competencies for Information Professionals in Learning Labs and Makerspaces.

Learning Labs and Makerspaces matter. This is especially true for tweens and young adults because it offers a creative outlet of exploration aside from traditional learning styles. It is a free and open, where there are choices. It is based in unconventional evaluation and assessment (self-directed learning); this allows the user to decide what they want to learn and how they want to learn it.  This environment provides options that compliment but also contrasts what a formal curriculum offers. It’s important because all children (people) learn differently: getting inventive and thought provoking to achieve a goal. It’s formulating a theory or outcome and then taking the hands-on steps to getting the desired result. The actual spaces are important because it offers the users the opportunity to work with like-minded people, sometimes showing them that ideas are not silly. I know “not alone” is an often-used catch phrase is learning environments, but that’s only because it’s so important. I am a strong believer in social interaction, and being part of a group. Yes, individuality is important, and independence is vital to formulation of ideas, but it’s more fun, practical, and more than occasionally, successful when working together.  Makerspaces are safe and supportive, helping their users to cultivate their own interests.

The article, Competencies for Information Professionals in Learning Labs and Makerspaces demonstrates how technology and other power equipment is being utilized. It emphasizes how important it is to have hands-on and mentor led educational opportunities for all, but especially for those who would otherwise not be exposed to these environments and technologies.

The authors raise some very interesting points in their interview, pointing out how much preparation goes into a space. These labs are being developed within libraries, schools and museums, so it is through thorough examination and input that the continuation of these depend on their value to the community. It is imperative to a flourishing space that it be well staffed; it is their desire to prove how important it is for everyone involved to be qualified, well-trained personnel. Identifying the competency of individuals is particularly important because of its digital components. Guidelines have been and continue to be established in the matter.

Specifically discussed are plans to implement teaching styles in library and information studies curriculum and programs based on evidence based research on the matter. Preparing professionals in this way will prove to secure innovative learning environments in today’s digital age. Interesting were the way in which the authors secured the sample of interviewees and the data examined.

The results of individual interviewees and their responses are discussed in detail. The persons identify themselves as advocates or representatives of their programs, however, they vary in years served, specific vs. general experience, degrees held (and in what concentration) and gender within the sample.

Basically, a person’s ability to thrive in this field will be a willingness and desire to be around teens and understand their needs. Trying to predict their thoughts and reactions and the ability to get them comfortable enough to express themselves is key. Viewing teens as capable, even though they may be withdrawn, hesitant, and appear to be reclusive, will eventually put their minds at enough ease to participate and create. The undisputable result is that professionals in this field must have the ability and willingness to learn and serve. Most important is providing services and resources.

I found most interesting the points that uneducated or undereducated people could be effective in this field but maybe not as much as those with a higher degree. I liked that the authors’ theorized about having professionals learn in fields outside of the major of library only, perhaps in technology, education, social programs or business, to help program development and implementation of the makerspaces. I enjoyed the discussion of how programs in this field should be designed and updated, most specifically the future of an MLS degree.

I would like to see more research studies on professionals already working in the field, who may be in educational positions, perhaps for many years, though have very few educational degrees, have lots of hands-on, learn-as-you-go years.  I’m sure that these individuals are quite capable in aspects of service, popular culture, management, funding (including applying for grants), community involvement and understanding the teen brain. Formal education availability and technological site learning opportunities may prove to be beneficial for all involved.

From Third Place to Makerspace: Public Libraries and Teens

Koh, K., & Abbas, J. (2015). Competencies for Information Professionals in Learning Labs and Makerspaces. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 56(2).


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