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

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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