As a Teacher Librarian (TL) and committed lifelong learner, I undertake a sizeable amount of professional reading. Without a doubt, the most valuable sources of information for my professional development as a TL are my Professional Learning Networks (PLNs). Social Media platforms such as Yammer, Facebook and Twitter form the bulk of my PLNs. I also receive regular emails from NSWTL and OZ_TL Net mailing lists. I also rely heavily on Scan Magazine and SCIS Connections publications. Over the previous couple of years, I had noticed Maker Spaces trending in the online conversations, recommended articles and other sources in my PLNs.
I initially resisted and had little interest in going down the maker space track. At first glance, it looked to me like a primary school thing and simply a crafting session with students. I am a secondary school TL and crafting is not my thing. I seriously do not have crafty bone in my body. Secondly, I was in the process of trying to secure a permanent appointment as a TL and had that as my immediate focus. Once a job was secured, I had to learn the ropes of a new school, despite having close to 20 years experience working in school libraries (I had worked in admin roles whilst doing my education studies and then worked in temporary TLS positions).
There is a more important reason why I resisted. It has to do with, what I believe, was the most important advice I was given from an experienced TL before taking up my first temp position: ‘If you want to be taken seriously as a TL you have to make everything you do about the teaching and learning’. She went on to say the books are fantastic and are traditionally a library’s backbone, but most of that work (the processing, book displays and promoting) can be done by the admin staff (just as I did when I did that job).  I took this advice on board and made ‘focus on the teaching and learning’ my mantra. To this end, I focused on team-teaching Information Literacy. I also had a personal and professional goal to raise the profile of the school library and the role of the TL in the school.
As I had, erroneously, believed Maker Spaces to be about craft, I resisted because I want to be taken seriously as an educator and not simply be seen as ‘the librarian’ doing a ‘cute’ crafting session. I insist on my full role title, Teacher Librarian, and aim to highlight the teacher part of my role. I thus, believed that running a maker craft session would be a backward step for my professional profile in the school. For this reason, when Maker Spaces appeared in my feed I simply moved on the next article.
After some time, some things of interest regarding Maker Spaces caught my eye. In addition, professional learning sessions I attended and many educational articles I was reading began talking about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) insisting that coding was the new literacy. I then began taking, somewhat, of an interest whilst telling myself that I had virtually zero expertise in this area. I was later to learn, at a TL Professional Learning seminar, that there were simple ways that coding gadgets could be introduced into a library maker space whilst having little expertise. It was then that I began to entertain the idea that maybe I could make the first tentative steps in this area, that I could ‘fake it ‘til I make it’ in the Library Maker Space arena. One thing I know I am good at is learning on the run.
We were thrilled to successfully secure this funding of $5K. Then the reality hit. Now we have to see this through without looking like amateurs. I knew I was in for an extremely steep learning curve. Was I really up for this challenge?
My next post will detail our planning process.
 I acknowledge that primary schools don’t get the same level admin support and are limited in what they can delegate.