Make It So



As she so often does,  hit the nail on the head with her post Everything Old is New Again.

I wonder, how many libraries with MAKERSPACES consulted their youth departments before creating this BRAND NEW THING? Because, seriously, been there, done that, have the stained shirt to prove it.

Some of you might argue that maker spaces are more digital, or involve power tools, or whatever. To which I reply, So certain types of making are better than others? Our flannel stories, origami programs, bookmaking and playdough are inferior to flashier, decidedly more masculine forms of making?

Same old story–when women do it, it is easier, lesser, and undervalued. As soon as a dude says it’s cool to print a robot out of plastic, then it’s something.

Which is not to say I don’t like the Maker/DIY movement. Just that…maybe ask for help from people who’ve built their entire careers around it. They might have something to teach  you. And by might, I mean definitely.

6 responses to “Make It So”

  1. Thank you for the shout out. This has really been on my mind since your “Ego” post. Had to let stuff stew for awhile . Then the ABCs came together with the big splashes on adult programs and I just thought “Here we go again!”. Thanks for your original post that got my pot simmering!


  2. I understand from a marketing point of view, using a new label to get interest and attention. No problem with that. The problems I have are exactly what you point out: the lack of history/understanding about how this has been happening for years by your library peers. Why is it not important when it’s called “craft” or “scrapbook” but when it’s “maker space” and “local archives” it’s suddenly a Thing of Importance to Be Paid Attention to?


  3. I’ve been working on pulling together the pieces for a grant enabling us to get some 3d printers. Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It may just be because I am a YA librarian and have spent more hours finding ways to reuse empty soda bottles, making shrinkydinks out of deli containers, and the like; but I just didn’t see a division between making and crafting. It has always been the same for me. In fact, the point you support here is exactly what I said to get our library board to support my grant proposal: “This is something we’ve always done. Something libraries have always been about.” So, I don’t think the opinion is rampant that Making is somehow superior to Crafting. But, then again, I am in the trenches already, as it were. So, maybe I am just not seeing the whole battlefield.

    That said, I think it is natural for many adults to go nuts over the repurposing of youth programs for adult programs. There is this need in our culture to avoid being “childish” after the age of ten. So, many adults poo-poo the idea of making cubees, building marshmallow catapults, or the simple joy of the paper plate mask. They turn their backs on these activities not because they think it is boring, but because they fear they will find themselves enjoying something simply fun. Something that is somehow beneath their adult sensibilities. Something they see (and more importantly, other adults see) as childish. It is a patently ridiculous concept, which all youth service librarians are well aware; however, that concept is nigh crippling for many adults. Which is why people flip out when a new veneer is placed on gameday, storytime, or craftime and marketed to adults. Finally, these people can indulge in FUN without the fear of being seen as childish, because “Hey, it is for adults! They serve alcohol while we listen to stories and make stuff! So, it definitely isn’t childish!”

    Yes, we’ve done it forever. Yes, once again, our expertise has been rebranded and presented to a different demographic without even a casual nod to where the roots took hold. Does this suck . . . I guess. I mean, it would be nice to have a nod in our direction. I mean, clearly we are the taste makers. Every thing we have done that form the basics of our services have been co-opted by another group of librarians. But we’ve also always been the “crazy” librarians. The vast majority of us readily embrace that moniker because we find it apt and also amusing. But the rest of librarianship views us through that lens. The same lens that other people viewed individuals like Philo Farnsworth, Nikolai Tesla, and other great visioneers. Crazy people that aren’t ones to be emulated or readily seen as press worthy. We are the crazy people, out there doing crazy things . . . not for the fame and not for the money, but for the sheer joy of doing what we do. The need we feel to bring joy to our kids and teens, all the while indulging our own self-embraced childhood.

    Which brings me to what I think is the crux of our problem. Why our visions are taken from us and rebranded to the adult market with praise and fanfare while we sit on the sidelines asking each other “What the hell?” Maybe we don’t market ourselves the way we should. Maybe the rest of librarianship sees us as a little too crazy because that’s how we come off to them. Maybe we don’t market our product in a way that is (adult) media friendly. But, you know, if doing that means I don’t connect with my kids as well. If doing that means I end up being the person who is incapable of pushing the boundaries, trying the crazy things, and making them work . . . well, I think I’m okay being the crazy person. I think I’ll stay being the person people giggle about as I stride around the library in my pink tutu only to see those very same giggling people walk through the library in five years with their own pink tutus to all the cheers of adults every where and LJ. I’ll just sit back and think, “well, I told them I was right” and begin thinking of the next big thing.


  4. Sometimes it seems like this profession is taking a step back when it comes to women and anyone (male or female) working in youth services.


  5. […] again reiterates that recognizing your programming/movement’s roots are important. Also, ask for […]


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