The Westport Library has won a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in Washington, D.C. The National Leadership Grant for Libraries funding was awarded for the enhancement of the Library’s MakerSpace to demonstrate how opportunities to learn and practice innovation skills can change the perception of contemporary libraries and broaden the library audience.
The Westport Library was selected from a competitive field of applicants to receive funding for enhancing the year-old MakerSpace, declared a highly innovative project with broad potential impact for other libraries. The project, MakerSpace 2.0: Retinkering Libraries, proposes to transform the current MakerSpace, introducing more hands-on maker experiences, workshops and makers-in-residence who will support innovation labs on topics such as robotics, LED creations and tinkering with home electronics repairs. Interactive Innovation Stations (iStations) will introduce participants to the concepts and techniques of innovative thinking.
Only one other public library (Providence (RI) Public Library) in the country was selected to receive funding in this category this year from the IMLS, an independent agency of the federal government which is the main source of federal support for libraries and museums nationwide. The organization works at the national level in coordination with state and local agencies to “sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.”
The IMLS used a peer review process to evaluate the grant applications. Here are some of the comments from reviewers about Westport’s proposal:
“This is a cutting-edge project that is a participatory win-win situation for all involved. The MakerSpace involves everyone in the community, changes library purpose and engagement and enhances collaboration with the country’s movers and shakers.”
“The Westport Library has the potential to make a big impact with this project. They have a receptive community interested in more maker experiences and a national presence in the library involvement with the Maker movement.”
“Very solid project with a great deal of potential for innovation…information that is generated will be useful for other libraries…love the attention to the changing nature of library usage, and this project gets out on the leading edge of this.”
The grant will be shared with partners in the application—the Information and Library Science Department of Southern Connecticut State University and the State Department of Library Services.