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To show support and gratitude for health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers keeping communities safe during the COVID-19 emergency. Old Dominion University is illuminating its Education Building blue during May, as part of the national #LightItBlue campaign. Photo Chuck Thomas/ODU

ODU Professor Aims to Discover How Public Libraries Can Create More Inclusive, Equitable Makerspaces

As more public libraries offer makerspaces and join the maker movement, Amelia Anderson, assistant professor of STEM Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, seeks to discover approaches that support more inclusive and equitable maker programs and makerspaces. Through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Anderson and co-Principal Investigator, Abigail Phillips at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Information Studies, have been awarded a one-year, $87,482, grant from the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program. Their work will begin September 2020.

Access to makerspaces increases both the innovation rate and the diffusion rate by which innovation spreads. Also known as Hackerspaces or Fab Labs, makerspaces are redefining public and academic libraries as destinations in the age of virtual learning and online resources. As a growing learning experience movement, the maker movement's accessibility and inclusiveness to all individuals has been subject to little research, said Anderson, who is also the project director. A better understanding of how libraries can improve current making practices and makerspace design are the research team's goals.

As part of the project, the researchers will conduct five online focus groups, collecting data from disability self-advocates and makerspace movement stakeholders, with measures for accessibility built in so disability self-advocates can fully participate.

"We hope the work we do can help to identify and remove barriers to access, creating more equitable public library spaces," said Anderson.

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