Maryland Public Libraries Launches Virtual Makerspace
Over the last few years, libraries have become popular hubs for the maker movement, providing computer labs and collaboration spaces for students to engage in hands-on and project-based learning. Now, Maryland’s network of public libraries is working to expand these maker communities online to increase access to making tools for millions of people across the state.
Maryland Public Libraries has partnered with Workbench to launch a virtual makerspace for its 3.7 million library card holders. The new makerspace “provides access to activities and lessons, lets users discuss and share projects and upload their own ideas,” according to a news release, and will help “build mastery and foster creativity and innovation for beginners and experts. It will also serve as a hub for educators seeking innovative technology curricula.”
Workbench designs fully built-out platforms called “workbenches” for ed tech products to connect with end users and build online communities. “Makers can find new ways to use products, teachers can find new ways to teach, and everyone can share their own programming code, lessons and experiences within the community,” according to the Workbench website. Maryland Public Libraries is the company’s first library partner, made possible through funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
"The role of libraries has changed. They are no longer solely facilities for lending and borrowing books," said Liz Sundermann-Zinger, project lead on behalf of Maryland Public Libraries, in a prepared statement. "They are dynamic spaces where the community can connect, engage, learn and teach using technologies that build excitement and expand opportunities. Our partnership with Workbench will allow us to engage even more people in this work by offering an online community for people who like to create, while building a statewide foundation of technology literacy."
Further information is available on the Workbench site.