How to Choose Books to Support Your Makerspace
Why We Need Books in Makerspaces
Books play an essential role in all makerspaces, whether they are in the library or not. Instructional books can support students in learning complex skills and tools. Project books can give ideas and inspiration for what to make next. Art books can provide visual inspiration. Professional development books can help teachers who aren’t quite sure how to incorporate making into their classrooms and curriculum. For all these reasons and more, every makerspace should have some sort of resource shelf or section that students and teachers can access.
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How to Choose Books to Support Your Makerspace
Before you start putting together a wishlist of books, you need to ask yourself some questions:
- What tools do you have in your makerspace?
- Are there certain types of technology that you utilize?
- What are some regular programs that you hold in your makerspace?
- How does your makerspace support your curriculum? What maker topics are included in your classes?
- What subjects are your students interested in learning more about?
- Which books can help to support your teachers in using maker concepts and/or utilizing your makerspace more?
You want to consider adding books to your makerspace library that will help to support students and teachers regarding whatever topics and themes can up with those questions. When I asked myself (and my students) these questions about the IDEAlab, these were my answers:
- Virtual Reality, including programming languages like Unity and programs like Unreal Engine
- Paper circuits
- Tech take apart
- Python programming language
- 3D printing and design, specifically books on Fusion 360
- Graphic design and incorporating art into the makerspace
- Professional development books for my teachers to aid in collaboration
Using this list, I was able to start researching books and putting together an order. I read reviews, looked through suggested books, and gradually my book order started to take shape.
Where to keep your books
Since our makerspace is in the library itself, I don’t store all of our makerspace resources in there. I have two shelves set aside in the IDEAlab for on-hand resources (think ready reference). These are books students would likely need while working on a project in the IDEAlab. They include books on Unity programming and Unreal Engine, 3D printing, Makey Makey, etc. Books that are more visually inspiring or general are shelved in the main collection. My non-fiction is still sorted by Dewey Decimal, but I’m adding my own custom makerspace labels to these books to make them easy to identify (I use Demco’s blank Spine Label Sheets and edit their template with my own label design).
What Books Did I Order?
As a caveat, I will say that these were the right books for me to order for my school library makerspace, but they might not be the right ones for you. Remember to consider the questions I asked earlier. Look for ways to support tools, technology, programs, curriculum, student interest and teachers through the books you purchase. And balance instructional, visual inspiration, projects and professional development books.
This is not an exhaustive list (I ordered 63 titles in a recent, donation-funded order), but here’s some of the books I decided to order for our library after going through this process:
- Coding Projects in Python
- 20 Makey Makey Projects for the Evil Genius
- The Arduino Inventor’s Guide
- Unscrewed: Salvage and Reuse Motors, Gears, Switches and More from Your Old Electronics
- Fusion 360 for Makers: Design Your Own Digital Models for 3D Printing and CNC Fabrication
- 3D Printer Projects for Makerspaces
- Cut in Half: The Hidden World Inside Everyday Objects
- Geeky LEGO Crafts: 21 Fun and Quirky Projects
- The Art of the Brick: A Life in LEGO
- Leonardo’s Art Workshop: Invent, Create and Make STEAM Projects Like a Genius
- Making Simple Automata
- Unity Virtual Reality Projects: Learn Virtual Reality by Developing More than 10 Engaging Projects with Unity
- Unreal Engine VR Cookbook: Developing Virtual Reality with UE4
- Make Writing: 5 Teaching Strategies that Turn Writer’s Workshop into a Maker Space
- How to Make Art
- Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design
- Makeology: Makers as Learners
I’ve written about books in makerspaces a few times before, so make sure to check out these posts for more ideas:
- How to Build an Awesome Makerspace Resource Library (with 20 book recommendations)
- The STEM Maker Library Grant: My first foray into maker book ordering
- 3 Myths About Libraries, Makerspaces and Books: Can they co-exist? Yes!
What books do you keep in your makerspace?