A Mini Maker Faire at the Library
In October, 2014, Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD), Colorado Springs, Colo., was the site for the first Mini Maker Faire in southern Colorado. Putting on this large event required great community partnerships, months of planning, and strong marketing. All of this effort paid off when over 6,000 people came to see more than fifty makers.
Deciding to hold a Mini Maker Faire was easy. PPLD was in the process of opening a new location, Library 21c, with a heavy focus on the maker movement, and already had strong maker programs throughout the district. Having partners for this endeavor was important. When looking at the community, the Colorado Springs Science Center, the Colorado Springs Science Festival, and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Center for STEM Education seemed like natural fits to work with PPLD to bring a Mini Maker Faire to the area.
Then, it was time to apply to Make for a Mini Maker Faire license. The application process requires quite a bit of information, including several short- answer questions, letters of support, and budgetary information. Once accepted, certain aspects of the Faire have to be handled in particular ways, like publicity being approved and specific websites being used. Carolyn Coulter, Information Technology Officer for PPLD, stated, “We felt that the branding and relationship with Make magazine was valuable to us, and we will continue that relationship in coming years.”
At the beginning of planning, the team broke into sub teams to address various components of the Faire: funding, marketing, and programming. In the early stages, some of the items that had to be tackled included Faire website set up, Facebook profile development, marketing material creation, reaching out to makers in the area to attract participation, and maker fees. We also needed to come up with some criteria for vetting makers according to the goals for the event.
As we drew nearer to the day, marketing materials went out, including flyers, posters, and press releases. Members of the team attended events, like the Southern Colorado Manufacturing Expo, to tell people about the library’s Mini Maker Faire. The Faire was also publicized throughout the Colorado Springs Science Festival
Planning the building set-up was quite a task. Fortunately, several people involved with the planning had prior experience with large festivals. After the team walked the building, one of the PPLD staff, Sean Anglum, was able to create a map with all of the information on where we could set up tables, including power capabilities. Armed with this knowledge, we were able to assign the makers space according to their needs while also having a variety of activities spread throughout the building.
Volunteers were another big part of the day. Several high school students came to assist with set up, helping makers find their assigned table, and answering directional questions. To add to the festival atmosphere, we had food trucks in the parking lot and our café in the library provided snacks. Volunteers were given a credit that they could use to eat while helping with the event.
What were some of the cool things coming out of the Colorado Springs Mini Maker Faire? From Coulter’s perspective, “More partnerships and more visibility into what the library is doing and becoming. I felt a great deal of enthusiasm for this sort of programming and education at the Maker Faire, and people really seemed to be on board with our vision of continued growth at PPLD.”
To see some of the highlights, check out our recap video.
 Coulter, Carolyn, interview by Becca Cruz. Information Technology and Virtual Services Officer (January 9, 2014).
Cover Photo Credit: Science Gallery Dublin (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Tags: adult programming, children's programming, Colorado, community engagement, community partnerships, makerfaire, makerspaces, volunteers