UTA Libraries awarded grant to test maker literacies program

Friday, Apr 28, 2017 • Media Contact : Herb Booth

A UTA team will use an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to identify and collaborate with three pilot sites to test the effectiveness of early-stage maker-based competencies, previously developed by a UTA task force, on undergraduate learning.

Martin Wallace, Maker Literacies and engineering librarian at The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, was awarded a $49,800 National Leadership Grant for Libraries from the Institute. 

UTA Libraries’ makerspace, the UTA FabLab, opened in 2014 and has been a leader in connecting maker services to campus needs. 

Partners in the award are Gretchen Trkay and Katie Musick Peery of UTA Libraries, Tara Radniecky of University of Nevada-Reno, and Kathryn Pole, UTA.

Makerspaces are defined as community-operated work spaces where people with common interests in computers, machines, technology, science, digital art and other areas, meet, socialize and collaborate on projects. By offering makerspaces and maker activities, academic libraries provide students with experiential learning opportunities that cut across subject areas and encourage collaboration, adaptability and creativity.

However, few practical tools exist for educators to measure student learning that results from making. Creating a set of maker-based competencies will help librarians and educators understand and assess the relevance of maker activities to academic learning goals.

“The goals for this planning grant are to identify three additional partners who will agree to integrate and pilot test our maker literacies program at their institutions and to conduct a pilot run of the program over the 2017-2018 academic year,” Wallace said. “Accomplishing these goals will allow us to refine our early-stage set of maker competencies and apply for an IMLS Project Grant that will further expand the Maker Literacies Program.”

National Leadership Grants for Libraries support projects that address challenges faced by the library and archive fields and that have the potential to advance library and archival practice with new tools, research findings, models, services or alliances that can be widely replicated. The grants are very competitive. More than $23 million in grants were requested. About $5.5 million was awarded for 25 projects.

“This grant will support the development of competencies that can influence relationships between academic libraries and departments across the country,” Rebecca Bichel, dean of UTA Libraries, said. “We are pleased that IMLS supports UTA’s efforts and we look forward to working with the University of Nevada-Reno and our other partners on this significant and far-reaching project.”

IMLS Director Kathryn K. Matthew said, “As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other. IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”

UTA Libraries’ makerspace, the UTA FabLab, opened in 2014 and has been a leader in connecting maker services to campus needs. UTA was the first school in the University of Texas System to offer students open access to 3-D printing. In 2016, the UTA FabLab expanded from 825 square feet to 8,000 square feet to accommodate larger classes and more equipment. Today, the UTA FabLab is a robust learning laboratory offering a combination of manual and digital fabrication technologies such as laser cutters, screen printing, 3-D printing, and woodworking equipment.

 --Written by Evelyn Barker

About IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission has been to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. For the past 20 years, its grant making, policy development, and research has helped libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About the UTA Libraries

Supporting The University of Texas at Arlington and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan region, UTA Libraries create transformational learning experiences by connecting people to first-class resources, empowering knowledge creation, exploring ideas and pursuing innovations in learning. The UTA FabLab offers all students access to cutting-edge technology for research in digital fabrication and data visualization. UTA Libraries Special Collections focuses on the history of Texas, Mexico and the Southwest, and includes one of the finest cartography collections on Texas and the Gulf of Mexico in the world. The Libraries recently completed an $800,000 cold storage preservation vault for its collection of approximately 5 million photographic negatives. To learn more about UTA Libraries, please visit http://library.uta.edu.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 “highest research activity” institution. With a projected global enrollment of close to 57,000 in AY 2016-17, UTA is the largest institution in The University of Texas System. Guided by its Strategic Plan Bold Solutions | Global Impact, UTA fosters interdisciplinary research within four broad themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact, and data-driven discovery. UTA was recently cited by U.S. News & World Report as having the second lowest average student debt among U.S. universities. U.S. News & World Report also ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2017 Best for Vets list.