January 17, 2022

Conference Paper/Case Study: “Creating Space: The Impacts of Spatial Arrangements in Public Library Makerspaces”

The following paper will be presented at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2016 taking place August 3-19, 2016 in Columbus, OH.


Creating Space: The Impacts of Spatial Arrangements in Public Library Makerspaces


Shannon Crawford Barniskis
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee




This multi-site ethnographic case study examines the spatial arrangements of three public library makerspaces. These spaces are participatory social and spatial arrangements aimed at least in part at creating physical or digital objects, which are open for the free use of all library patrons, irrespective of the types of workshops, tools, staffing, materials created, or location. Library creative places shape the possible actions and experiences of those using them through policy and practice, including the planning and implementation of spatial arrangements. Power relations are often invisibly embedded in the affordances intentionally or unintentionally designed into the spaces.

This study examines these spatial arrangements and inquires how users and library personnel describe the impacts of the space. It details how three makerspaces in public libraries serve their communities in novel ways, and offers transferable, praxis-based recommendations for spatial arrangements which reflect equitably-shared power relations among the library-as-institution, the library personnel, and the users. Furthermore, it describes how users co-construct their libraries through their hands-on making activities, helping to redefine what libraries are and librarians do.

Direct to Full Text Paper (10 pages; PDF)

Some of the Other IFLA 2016 Papers We’ve Shared on infoDOCKET
More to Come

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.