University of Illinois, Indian Trails Library recipients of $100,000 grant
In partnership with the Indian Trails Public Library District, the University of Illinois was awarded $100,000 to develop an initial framework and future toolkit for measuring the impact and value of public library makerspaces in the lives of users and the communities that libraries serve. As public libraries have evolved to meet the lifelong learning needs of the community, traditional library measurements and statistics do not accurately reflect the full economic, educational and social impact of the services in the community.
U of I Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Emily Knox and Associate Professor Kyungwon Koh received the grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for their project, "Measuring the Impact and Value of Makerspaces in Public Libraries." Indian Trails Library added a makerspace (The Launch Pad) in its main library when the building was renovated in 2017.
The planned project will develop a baseline framework by analyzing a series of focus group sessions, as well as create a white paper for evaluating a non-traditional service in public libraries. This framework will add to the professional knowledge of public librarians nationally and help them achieve excellence in service to their communities.
This project was one of 38 projects funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services' (IMLS) National Leadership Grants for Libraries. National Leadership Grants for Libraries support projects that address significant challenges and opportunities facing the library and archives fields and have the potential to advance theory and practice with new tools, research findings, models, services, practices, or alliances that will be widely used.
"We are looking forward to being part of this project," said Brian Shepard, executive director at Indian Trails Library, "Makerspaces are vibrant creative spaces in libraries, and we know our members value the services and programs we offer in The Launch Pad. We also know libraries need to develop different ways to measure the impact of makerspaces, since it is a non-traditional service."
The Indian Trails Public Library District serves 67,000 residents in the communities of Wheeling, Buffalo Grove, Prospect Heights, Arlington Heights and Northbrook.