The Maker Movement at the Free Library of Philadelphia

By K-Fai S. RSS Mon, July 22, 2013

Do you love learning and DIY projects? Are you interested in the intersection and overlap of technology and creativity? You may already be a maker!

The Maker Movement generally refers to a subculture of people who are artists, tech enthusiasts, educators, crafters, designers, tinkerers, engineers, musicians – anyone with a passion for mixing what they do with technology and electronics in a hands-on way.

At five Free Library locations this summer, we’re diving into the maker movement with a grant from the Maker Ed Initiative. We hired five Maker Corps Members whose expertise ranges from chemistry to painting to metalsmith work. They mentor youth in how to “de-black-box” and creatively control the technology they use on a daily basis. For example, what started with lumps of play-doh at the Free Library Hot Spot at the Village of Arts and Humanities morphed into youth-designed competitive magnetic mazes that includes LEDs and buzzers. Youth were exposed to the history of mazes, and then developed characters, goals and storyline to articulate their creations (e.g., “The Legend of Grandma, featuring Grandpop”).

Perhaps the most exciting element of the maker movement is how it has the potential to affect out-of-school learning environments, like the library. We’re excited to see what sorts of things kids learn when they’re exposed to technology in a playful environment, and how different literacies can be deepened through mentorship, some lights, and some buzzers.

Read more about our daily workshops and locations at, and stay tuned to hear more about ways to get involved with the Maker Movement this summer!

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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