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Makerspaces: a beneficial new service for academic libraries?

Robert Curry (Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 4 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to start exploring the possibilities for makerspaces to function as a new learning space within academic library services in higher education (HE). This original research study ask two key questions: How is learning achieved and supported in makerspaces? What can academic library services bring to the effective organisation and support of makerspaces?


An extensive literature review is followed by a template analysis (King, 2012) of data from an online forum of three professionals operating makerspaces in academic library services in the USA and a discussion incorporating relevant educational theory and philosophy.


The three overarching learning themes found were: experiential learning (Dewey, 1909; Kolb, 1984), communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991) and self-efficacy through social learning (Bandura, 1997).

Research limitations/implications

The one-week forum of three professional library staff provided detailed and informative data. Substantial field work with students will also be required to see how far this professional lens has provided insight into how students are learning and supported in these and other makerspaces.

Social implications

The wider cultural implications are examined, including the potential social value of makerspaces as transformative creative spaces empowering communities and individuals.


This is the first study to date on the potential educational value of makerspaces within HE, and the specific support academic library services can offer if they choose to host a makerspace (including teaching information, digital and critical literacies).



Curry, R. (2017), "Makerspaces: a beneficial new service for academic libraries?", Library Review, Vol. 66 No. 4/5, pp. 201-212.



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