UMSI partners with Ann Arbor District Library on makerspace project

UMSI students Andong Zhang and Emily Riippa get all wrapped up in makerspace activities in their new Secret Lab space.

An innovative community-campus partnership will provide School of Information students with access to a unique new space in which to develop tool and craft skills, learn how to mentor children, encourage creativity, and tinker with new technology and new materials.

The Ann Arbor District Library's Secret Lab will be the latest of SI's makerspaces, which have also been created at local elementary and middle schools.

A joint open house will take place Friday, October 30 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the lower level of the library, 343 South Fifth Ave. Participants ages 6 and older can take part in hands-on activities with a Halloween theme.

Josie Parker, MLIS '96; Thomas Finholt, interim dean of the School of Information; and Kristin Fontichiaro, clinical assistant professor of information.

Kristin Fontichiaro, clinical assistant professor of information, said the library is a great place to conduct her latest class, "Makerspaces, Maker Culture, Maker Tools."

"We are fortunate because Ann Arbor District Library librarians — some of whom have national reputations as artists and maker coordinators in their own right — sit in on class, help students acquire AADL tools to borrow, and facilitate use of AADL equipment," she said.

Assistant professor Silvia Lindtner, who worked with Fontichiaro and AADL staff to develop the partnership, said she is "very much looking forward to all our future collaborations."

Lindtner and Fontichiaro have been awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop makerspace education around the state, particularly in rural areas, in the summers of 2016 and 2017.

"Libraries have been places of creation for centuries," said AADL Deputy Director Eli Neiberger. "In the Secret Lab, creativity can expand beyond the written word, as library users learn new skills, tools and techniques within a universally accessible, all-ages setting.

"We're thrilled that UMSI has partnered with AADL to become the first regular user of this awesome new community resource."

A costumed child explores large-scale spirography at the AADL Secret Lab open house.

Families try out a 3D printer at the open house for SI's latest makerspace in the basement of AADL's Downtown Branch.

This story was originally published in The University Record on October 29, 2015.