Making at Surrey Libraries Staff Day

On Wednesday, Carlos and I attended the Surrey Library Staff Conference 2016 at Dorking Hall. We arrived just in time to catch a truly inspiring talk by Erik Boekesteijn which he titled Extreme Library Makeover. Erik gave an overview of some of the awesome projects he’s been involved in at Doklab and he makes a strong case for the importance of storytelling and providing memorable experiences for users in the library. One of the key messages from Erik’s talk was that of how to use technology and design to “Learn Stories, Make Stories, Share Stories” another message we like was “Innovate or Die”, this seems particular relevant to UK libraries in the current austerity climate.

Brian Ashley, Director of Libraries at Arts Council England, Midlands gave an update on the Arts Council and some upcoming funding opportunities which is always good to hear about. They welcome applications from libraries and affirm their support for libraries is a long term commitment.

During the lunch break, we demonstrated various parts of the Makercart (some more than others, the 3D printer was particularly performance shy that day while the Makeblock mBot performed really well!) that’s now available in Guildford Library.

Lots of library staff from other branches across the (incredibly vast) Surrey library network visited the maker stand to find out more about the equipment available and how it could fit within their library services. it was also exciting to discover that lots of staff had their own experiences with maker equipment and creative technologies that they’re keen to share.

Surrey Libraries has a huge membership base (3.2 million visits, 5.6 mill items borrowed in the past year!) and are doing some amazing things with this reach in the community.

After lunch, Carlos gave an overview of making in libraries ,the Makercart and the work they’ve been doing in Guildford Library. There also sounds like there’s lots of exciting plans for the future too.

We then moved on to some making! Everyone (around 120 attendees!) was given a simple circuit badge making kit featuring the Surrey Libraries mascot, Pebble the Penguin. The room (and the staff Yammer stream) quickly filled up with LED-lit penguin badges worn by proud new ‘makers’.

Pebble the Penguin

We finished up by highlighting some of the great shared online learning resources about making to help people learn more about the community, technology and variety of applications for making in a library context. We also highlighted some new and upcoming library resources in this space such as the Newslet for Libraries newsletter, library recipes at and the upcoming Making Library Makers online professional course.

It’s not often that library staff from different branches get to come together en masse like this and it was great to see the inspiring ideas, collaboration and shared knowledge that comes out of bringing people together like this.