EiTM Lab in Action at the Durham County Public Library

As a part of our community outreach for the NSF Equity in the Making grant , the EiTM Lab hosted face-to-face keepsake box-making workshops in the Innovation Lab at Durham County Public Library. The two hands-on workshops were an excellent opportunity to connect with community members and share our passion for seeking equity through critical making.

We went to the Durham County Main Library (DCPL) with box-making kits (cut using our laser-cutter), portable makerspace equipment (Cricut Machine, wood burning kits, 3Doodlers), and assorted handicraft and art tools. The Innovation Lab at DCPL was already equipped with 3D printers, laser cutting machines, poster printers, and sewing machines – it was a perfect place for the workshop.

Attendees working on their keepsake boxes

After a short presentation, the participants set out to construct and decorate their wooden keepsake boxes. Participants got to observe and try out the Cricut machine, which was in high-demand. Participants were busy cutting on-demand designs like bull silhouettes (after all, Durham Bulls)s and North Carolina stickers for decorating personalized boxes.

Most workshop participants were 50 years old or better. We also welcomed an 8-year grandchild. Despite some frustration and complications with hot glue guns, by the end of the workshop, every participant went home with a  personalized wooden box with a hinged lid, an experience with making with technology, and an afternoon to remember. One participant left with an additional kit “to teach her husband” at home.

Boxes decorated by participants

Examples of decorated boxes

A thank you email from the Durham Parks & Recreation (DPR) Mature Adult Group Leader said,

“Our Mature Adult participants were so taken with all the tools and ideas they got to try out and be creative with. They are still talking about how much fun they had making their keepsake boxes.”

The truth is that we (the EiTM team) had just as much fun and rewarding experience as the participants did.

Group picture of EiTM and DCPL members


EiTM at Durham County Library

EiTM at MIRA 2022

On July 13th, Dr. Maggie Melo and Rachel Rodney presented “Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud: EDI Considerations in a VR Makerspace,” at the MIRA (Makerspaces for Innovation and Research in Academics) Conference. This presentation showcased preliminary findings based on Dr. Melo’s recent study “Equity in the Making: Investigating Spatial Arrangements of Makerspaces and Their Impact on Diverse User Populations” investigating how students from underrepresented communities felt about a traditional makerspace through participatory action research hosted in a VR environment. 

Presentation Abstract

The Equity in the Making Lab designed a virtual reality (VR) makerspace to investigate how the arrangement of a makerspace communicates ideas around the environment’s purpose, values, and audience. Specifically, the Lab conducted a participatory action research (PAR) program using think-aloud reporting to identify how students from historically marginalized communities experience a makerspace for the first time. This session will provide an overview of research findings that detail the first impressions and gut reactions from participants. 

In our research, participants had the opportunity to explore a traditional makerspace in VR, providing us a prime opportunity to interact and gain insight from participants. Using the VR headset’s gaze tracking technology, we were able to identify what participants looked at, how long, and how frequent. This is useful in understanding what stood out to participants on different levels, such as what they noticed first, and what aspects of the space they showed more interest in. 

View this presentation recording here.

EiTM at ALISE 2021

On September 22, Dr. Maggie Melo, Laura March, and Dr. Kimberly Hirsh will present “Examining the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Library Makerspaces and LIS Makerspace Curricula” at the 2021 Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) virtual conference.

Paper/Session Description

This paper outlines two synergistic analyses that engage with the themes of resilient futures and education related to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, we describe the results of a research study on how makerspace information professionals in higher education adapted their services in response to additional safety protocols and needs of their user communities. Second, we illustrate how preliminary findings from this research were incorporated into a case study on transitioning LIS makerspace course curricula from face-to-face to remote learning.

By presenting both analyses together, this work contributes to conversations surrounding LIS curricula as it pertains to teaching and training information professionals for careers in makerspaces, while also contextualizing these adaptations within the larger changes implemented by academic library makerspaces in North Carolina.

This project was made possible in part by the National Science Foundation Award # 1942930.

EiTM at MIRA 2021

On July 15, Dr. Maggie Melo, Laura March, and Dr. Kimberly Hirsh presented “A Hidden Link to Foster Equity and Inclusion? A Study on the Defining Features of Academic Makerspaces” at the 2021 Makerspaces for Innovation and Research in Academics (MIRA) virtual conference.

Session Description

“Does a makerspace spatially communicate who belongs in the space?” is a question that the presenters, researchers from the Equity in the Making Lab, are investigating. What sights, sounds, and scents are attributed to makerspaces and why? This presentation unpacks the findings from year one of a five-year research program that explores makerspaces within an equity and inclusion framework. This presentation will outline two key findings:

  • Why it’s difficult to isolate the defining features of a makerspace
  • The role of affect, emotion, and the “intangible” features of a makerspace

These findings add insight regarding the persistent challenge of the underrepresentation of marginalized communities in makerspaces. Moreover, these findings are foundational for the next part of the research program: the development of a virtual makerspace that investigates the initial reactions and thoughts of students from marginalized communities.

This project was made possible in part by the National Science Foundation Award # 1942930.

Re-making the Library Makerspace Book Launch

Jan 29, 2021

10am PST/1pm EST

You’re invited to the (virtual) book launch of Re-making the Library Makerspace: Critical Theories, Reflections, and Practices, from Library Juice Press, edited by Jennifer T. Nichols and Maggie Melo. The volume offers chapters that acknowledge power and structural inequity, reflect on moving forward toward social justice, and celebrate successes and progress.

Read more about the event, Virtual book launch of Re-making the Library Makerspace, or register for the webinar directly via LibraryJuice.

Book Launch Poster featuring the book cover of Remaking the Librarian Makerspace

CNI Session

CNI Fall Webinar Header

Investigating the Spatial Arrangements of Makerspaces and its Impact on Diverse Student Populations

Tuesday, December 1, 2020: 2:00pm – 2:30pm

Learn more and sign up through CNI Fall 2020 Virtual Membership Meeting Website

The preliminary findings for the first phase of the research program, “Equity in the Making: Investigating Spatial Arrangements of Makerspaces and Their Impact on Diverse User Populations” will be explored in this project briefing. Librarians and information professionals continue to navigate a persistent challenge in their makerspaces: an underrepresentation of undergraduates from marginalized communities. The aim of this 5-year research program is to examine the relationship between the spatial arrangement of academic makerspaces and the diverse user communities it seeks to attract. The scope of this briefing focuses on the initial findings from a set of interviews that asked participants to describe the defining features (sight, sound, and scent) of a conventional academic makerspace. This research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER program.

Webinar: Makers Gonna Make

Makers Gonna Make: Maker Ed in Remote/Hybrid Learning Environments

Wednesday, October 28, 2020 – 12pm ET/ 9am PT

Webinar Signup

Many libraries use makerspaces to teach and engage, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, buildings have been closed and people have been distanced. So libraries are doing what they always do: innovate. From student-led remote projects to take-home kits to lists of resources that can be found around the house (sticky rice adhesive!), makerspaces have gone virtual.

Please join Leslie Preddy, Stacy Brown, and Maggie Melo as they discuss big-picture questions about how makerspaces can work at a distance. Moderated by Heather Moorefield-Lang, it’s sure to be a lively and informative conversation, and there will be plenty of time for comments and questions. Bring a friend!

  • Of interest to school librarians, library students, and other librarians working with makerspaces
  • Discuss how makerspaces can work well virtually
  • Get and share ideas for innovative maker programs

To get the ideas flowing, check out these short video lessons made by our webinar presenters on creative ways to conduct maker activities with your students—even from a distance!

Sponsored by ABC-CLIO

Can’t make it on October 28? Register to be updated when the recording is available for viewing!


  • Stacy Brown is the 21st-century learning coordinator at The Davis Academy in Atlanta, GA. Brown is a national presenter and contributor to professional books and journals on topics relating to libraries, technology, innovation, and education. She is the author of The School Librarian’s Technology Playbook: Innovative Strategies to Inspire Teachers and Learners. She is a regional director of the Georgia Technology Competition and a board member of Savvy Cyber Kids, Inc. and Atlanta Area Technology Educators. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @21stStacy.
  • Maggie Melo is an assistant professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She co-founded the University of Arizona’s first makerspace, the iSpace, in the university’s Science-Engineering Library. Her research resides at the intersection of innovation, critical maker culture, and the development of equitable and inclusive learning spaces (e.g. makerspaces) in academic libraries.
  • Leslie Preddy is the school librarian at Perry Meridian Middle School in Indianapolis, Indiana, and instructional leadership editor for School Library Connection magazine. Her book SSR with Intervention: A School Library Action Research Project was named one of the best professional books of 2007 by Teacher Librarian and her book Social Readers: Promoting Reading in the 21st Century, was highly recommended by Library Media Connection. Her latest book is School Library Makerspaces.


  • Heather Moorefield-Lang serves as associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the department of library and information science. Her research is focused on emerging technologies and their use in education and libraries. She has had the honor of being nominated for the White House Champion of Change for Making in 2016. Heather is also the editor of School Library Makerspaces in Action. To learn more visit her YouTube channel “Tech 15” or follow her on Twitter @actinginthelib.

Webinar graphic with headshots of speakers and covers of books that will be door prizes

Critical Librarianship and Pedagogy Symposium (CLAPS)

Centering voices from the margins: Unsettling the exceptionalist lore of makerspaces

Jennifer Nichols, University of Arizona & Maggie Melo, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Tuesday, September 15, 2020: 1-2 pm PDT (Zoom/Online)

This talk centers on the limitations and challenges emerging from this particular brand of “maker culture,” and emphasizes the critical work that is being done to cultivate anti-oppressive, inclusive and equitable making environments. The Maker Movement has inspired hundreds of public, school, and academic libraries to integrate makerspaces into their own ecosystems. This social phenomenon purports an enthusiasm and techno-optimistic approach to engaging with the world with STEM-rich technologies, and consistently overshadows the material limitations and drawbacks that this movement simultaneously purports. The Maker Movement has popularized a narrow, classist, predominantly white, and heteronormative conceptualization of maker culture. Makerspaces, like libraries, are not neutral, but rather are imbued with ideologies stemming from Silicon Valley that consequently dictate who makes, why making occurs, and what is considered making. Specifically, this talk will highlight the voices within the edited collection, Re-making the Library Makerspace Critical Theories, Reflections, and Practices. The book captures how librarians and educators have disrupted and re-made their makerspaces in response to the constraints of the Maker Movement’s “makerspace.” This collection extends a critical examination of library makerspaces at the site of praxis with critical considerations around race, age, class, gender, sexuality, power, and ability will be centered in this volume. 

View more and register online!

Maker Ed: Remaking the Library Makerspace

The Sixth Annual Maker Educator Convening

Remaking the Library Makerspace: New Moves toward Equity and Joy

Co-presenters: Jennifer Nichols and Brianna Marshall)

October 2-3, 2020

  • This panel is a discussion between contributing authors to Re-making the Library Makerspace Critical Theories, Reflections, and Practices, a forthcoming book from Library Juice Press (October 2020), edited by facilitators Jennifer Nichols and Maggie Melo. The volume contains the following four sections, and will be used as a framework to guide this discussion. 
    • Who Belongs in the Makerspace? Power and Critical Theories
    • Movement, Empathy, and Inclusion in Youth Makerspaces
    • Counternarratives
    • Re-imagined Makerspaces: Policies, Procedures, and Culture 
  • Chapters celebrate successes and progress, acknowledge power and structural issues and offer reflections on moving forward toward social justice and equity. By highlighting authors who offer new ideas and perspectives for cultivating both equity and joy, we propose the use of liberatory design practices to both encourage self reflection and facilitate meaningful connection between participants.

View more and register through Makered.org!