10 Oct 2023

“It will be the Making of You”: Reflecting on my first 18 months working in Maynooth University Library’s Makerspace

Libfocus is delighted to present the third prize post for the CONUL Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Awards 2023. The author is Dr. Heidi Campbell, Digital Engagement Curator, Maynooth University Library

They say it takes roughly 6 months to settle into a new job, a year to feel competent in it and then enough space, time and support to make an impact. My name is Heidi Campbell, and I am the Digital Engagement Curator at Maynooth University Library (MU). I manage the MU Library Makerspace and this blog is a reflection on my first 18 months in the role. The initial areas of focus for me have included the following; developing a makerspace brand for MU Library, reinstating the makerspace after the Covid hiatus, the development of meaningful social media engagement for the makerspace, the initiation of virtual tours and experiences and the resumption of the main stay of any makerspace - our very successful 3D printing service. 

3D Printing 3D printing lends itself well to the adage ’practice makes perfect’. There is a reason why makerspaces highlight the importance of failing because it is only when the prints are failing, and the filament is jamming, that you start to develop a feel for each printer and develop that "maker’s brain”. 

3D printed Pikachu 

As Digital Engagement Curator I strive to promote the makerspace online and throughout the university. I especially want to encourage MU Library staff to engage with us. I approached this by offering seasonal gifts for library staff. One of my favourite giveaways was to celebrate Lunar New Year where anyone born in the year of the rabbit received a beautiful red rabbit lantern. 

3D printed lantern with the Chinese rabbit character, with perforations to allow light to shine though

I hope to make this an annual tradition for staff. Next year I will be looking for all the dragons in the library. 🐉 

If you would like to know more about our 3D printing service and its role in supporting research, please read MU Library Makerspace – 3D Printing Supporting Research

Virtual Tours and Experiences 

Photo of the Ricoh Theta V 360 camera

When I joined MU Library, we had a 360 camera, however virtual tours had not yet been created with it. This was a great way for me to make a mark and develop a new initiative within the library. To read all about my time creating virtual tours and experiences see my addition to the Library Treasures Blog. 

Connecting with Makers 
One of the best parts of this job is the camaraderie I have found in the makerspace community and the knowledge sharing, encouragement and advice that is always on hand among other makers. These essential connections were evident during this year's CONUL Conference 2023 held in Cork when for the first time we presented a joint “CONUL Makerspace”. The event showcased services from University of Limerick, University of Galway and University College Cork. For my part I brought our 360 camera and demonstrated how to create virtual tours and displayed some of our virtual experiences. 

Social Media

Multiple 3D printed cats used as giveaways with new orders and for visitors 

One of the best ways to promote and to connect with other makerspaces is through social media. The MU Library Makerspace did not have its own account, and so I launched our own Twitter and TikTok handles @MULibraryMaker. As the numbers grew, I created a consistent timetable of posts to allow our growing audience to follow the stories and developments from the makerspace. Mondays mark #makermonday which showcases various types of making I have been working on throughout the week. This includes anything from intricate 3D print projects to equipment testing. I also like to use this hashtag to give praise to the many makers who design and create 3D prints or develop makerspace initiative that we use. Every Friday I post about specific 3D printing issues, fails, and developments using the hashtag #filamentfriday. I also use these days to ask for help, suggestions and input from other makers out there. 


Image of ClayCat wearing a bandana during workout session to promote health and wellbeing

Inspired by other libraries and makerspaces using animation, Lego and stop-motion as fun tools for digital engagement, I decided to test out claymation. I built a character based on MU Library’s famous resident, library cat. My hope is that I can develop a character that audiences can connect and build a relationship with. Every Wednesday I create a short stop-motion claymation video of #claycat engaging in some way with our collections or spaces. My poster presented at the CONUL Conference 2023 included this simple sway exhibition of Clay Cats development – view here. 

18 Months and Beyond 

A lot has been achieved in a short space of time. None of it would have been possible without the guidance and support I have encountered in this role. There is much more to come from the MU Library Makerspace including expanding our virtual experiences, exploring the world of 3D scanning and creating handling objects as teaching aides. And of course, #claycat will continue to comment throughout!

All images by Heidi Campbell


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