Top 10 Things You Need to Know about running your own Maker Faire
1. Make it all ages. The first one was run by the Ocean County Library’s Teen Services Department so our focus was on our teen demographic. However when we saw how many people wanted to get involved and participate, we quickly altered the age range and let everyone have fun. One of my favorite moments is when our Friends of the Library became enamored with our 3D Printer Village. They were so interested in how it worked. Remember, the Friends are very generous. Use this opportunity to show them how educational and fun these programs can be, and who knows maybe they’ll help fund something amazing!
2. Be flexible. Not everything works the way you want it to. You work in the library. You should know this already. Registration is helpful, but never accurate for our Maker Faire. We always have our stations ready for a few hundred people, but there were times when we ran out of supplies. Thus, coloring pages and our ready to go passive programming items were very handy.
3. Maker Faires are all about the do it yourself culture. So include not only arts and crafts, but science, technology, food, music and engineering.
4. Things can get messy, so make sure that you’re checking all the floor surfaces with the station that will be situated there. I.e. Don’t do a science experiment on the new carpet. And be sure to lay down plastic table cloths when doing anything that involves markers, paints, science experiment ingredients etc. Once again, it sounds self-explanatory, but sometimes you get so busy (because you will be overwhelmingly busy) that things slip by and you won’t think about it until the day of the program. (See #2 Be Flexible.)
5. Relax the rules for one day. It gets noisy. There may be food involved. For example, we always have a professional baker present that day. Their final cupcake creations are so beautiful that the participants want to bring them home to show off to their family and friends. Hence, relax the “If I see food, I’m going to kindly ask you to vacate the premise” rule.
6. Tie it in to the Common Core Curriculum and STEAM and STEM. If you promote your programs to the schools and parents with these buzz words, they will come.
7. Get the community involved. Partnerships are invaluable.
8. Staffing- Teen Volunteers will run the day for you. They are great for everything. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my TAB teens. They are incredibly supportive and smart. The TABS are always involved. They pick a station and are taught the fundamentals of it. This gives them a sense of ownership over the Maker Faire and also looks good on their college applications.
9. Funding- http://librarylinknj.org/techex/funding-your-maker-programs
10. Have fun! Working for a library is one of the best jobs that you could have and putting together a Maker Faire is one of the most rewarding things you could do.
The Ocean County Library is now in its third year of our Maker Faire and it keeps on getting bigger and better. What started out as a homegrown program has now tripled in size. We welcome everyone so if you would like to come experience ours, you are more than welcomed to. I hope to see you at the Ocean County Library’s Maker Faire on October 18, 2014 from 11-3, at the Toms River Branch!
Teen Services Coordinator
Ocean County Library System
732-349-6200 ext 5201
pcondello [at] theoceancountylibrary.org