The Bubbler as Systemwide Makerspace: A Design Case of How Making Became a Core Service of the Public Libraries

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Erica Halverson
Alexandra Lakind
Rebekah Willett


In this article, we introduce the case of a makerspace program that provides a systemwide approach to making rather than a singular face-to-face or online place. This makerspace, called Bubbler, extends across a public library system of a mid-sized Midwestern city (Madison, Wisconsin) and incorporates nine neighborhood libraries and numerous community spaces. Since 2011, Bubbler has come to be known as a physical place, a series of programs, and an approach to working with patrons of all ages. We aim to chronicle the development of Bubbler, describe its core features, provide examples of these features in action, and discuss victories and challenges associated with designing a systemwide makerspace in public libraries. We conclude by asserting that the library now includes making as a core service based on a model of diversity and inclusion that aligns with the basic tenets of public libraries.


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How to Cite
Halverson, E., Lakind, A., & Willett, R. (2017). The Bubbler as Systemwide Makerspace: A Design Case of How Making Became a Core Service of the Public Libraries. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 8(1).
Author Biographies

Erica Halverson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Erica Rosenfeld Halverson is an Associate Professor of Digital Media in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Dr. Halverson’s research focuses on how people learn in and through the arts with an emphasis on the role that digital technologies play in art-making. Her work has been published in a range of venues including the co-edited volumes Makeology, the first books to explore through research how the “maker movement” is changing education k-16 (Routledge, 2016).

Alexandra Lakind, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Alexandra Lakind is a doctoral student in Curriculum & Instruction and Environmental Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rebekah Willett, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Rebekah Willett is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison


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