School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 598 Making and Hacking in the Public Library

LIS 598: Making and Hacking at the Public Library
Course Outline
Fall 2015

Instructors: Holly Arnason, Alex Carruthers, Jason Harris, Carla Iacchelli


This session will be held at the EPL Makerspace at the Stanley A. Milner library.

Calendar Description:

Makerspaces and hackathons are two exciting ways that public libraries are engaging the public with collaborative programs and services designed to help people build digital literacy skills, express creativity, make community connections, and solve problems. Join librarians from Edmonton Public Library’s Digital Literacy Initiatives and Web Services department in this introduction to hacking and making at the public library. Explore the theory and principles behind these initiatives; discuss the practical considerations for successful implementation; and get hands-on practice with maker technologies and hackathons. This session will be held at the EPL Makerspace at the Stanley A. Milner library.  

Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Develop an understanding and overview of the scope, history, and nature of makerspaces and hackathons in libraries.
  2. Understand a broader context of theoretical frameworks, key philosophies, and principles that apply to makerspaces and hackathons in libraries.
  3. Interact with and develop an understanding of common makerspace technologies on site with hands-on activities at the EPL Makerspace.
  4. Develop an understanding and overview of data literacy and open data, working briefly with open data to participate in a mini-hackathon.
  5. Identify and analyze practical considerations for providing maker services, programs, and hackathons in the library (e.g., program design, set up, training, equipment, budget, layout, activities, service models, outcomes, etc.)

Measurable Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

Through participation in class discussions and hands-on activities, group presentation, and development of a program plan, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and scope of makerspaces and hackathons, with particular emphasis on key philosophical and theoretical frameworks that apply to the library context.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of and identify logistical considerations for developing a making and hacking program in a public library setting. 
  3. Demonstrate an understanding and overview for the broader context of open data and data literacy, as well as a practical understanding of potential models and purposes for organizing a hackathon.


Topics may include but are not limited to:

-       Digital literacy and data literacy

-       Constructivist learning; interest-based learning; STEAM in education

-       The scope and history of makerspaces and hackathons, inside and outside of libraries

-       Examples of popular makerspace technologies

-       Trends in maker programs and activities for children, families, and adults

-       Open data

-       Facilities, infrastructure and technological considerations

-       Service models and program design

-       Ethics, copyright, intellectual property, and other issues

-       Critical making  

-       Staff training and development

Methods: lecture, discussion, hands-on activities

Course Relationships: N/A

Required Texts: TBA

Assignments and Weighting:

[relative weights including whether marks are given for class participation and other in-class activities; dates of examinations and assignments of 10% or more]

Class participation – 20%

Presentation (in-class) – 30%

Written Assignment (due after class) – 50%

Required Readings:

Chicago Public Library. (2015, March 31). Making to Learn: What the Chicago Public Library and its patrons are learning as new members of the maker movement. Retrieved from

Edmonton Public Library. (2015, September 20). Edmonton Public Library Makerspace. Retrieved from:   

McArthur, K., Lainchbury, H. and Horn, D. (2012). Introduction, Why “Hackathon”?, & Why hold a hackathon? In Open Data Hackathon How to Guide v. 1.0 (pp. 3 - 4). Retrieved from

Open Government Partnership. (2012). Open Government Partnership [video]. Retrieved from

Petrich, M., Wilkinson K., & Bevan, B. (2013). It looks like fun, but are they learning? In M. Honey & D. Kanter (Eds.), Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators (pp. 50 - 70). New York and Abingdon, Oxon., Eng.: Routledge. Retrieved from:

Recommended Readings:

Bagley, C. A. (2014). Makerspaces: Top trailblazing projects, A LITA Guide. ALA TechSource.

Burke, J. (2014). Makerspaces: A practical guide for librarians. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Carruthers, A. (2014) Open Data Day Hackathon 2014 at Edmonton Public Library. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research. 9(2),  n.p.

Digital Youth Network (2015, September 20). The Digital Youth Network. Retrieved from  

Itò„, M., & Antin, J. (2010). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Petrich, M., Wilkinson, K., & Anzivino, L. (2015). Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning. [Online Course]. Retrieved from

Maker Education Initiative. (2015). MakerEd. Retrieved from

Martinez, S.L. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Wilson, J., Romano, J, & Zoras, B. (2015). Youth Hackathon Playbook.

Zomorodi, M. (2015, August 19). LEGO Kits and Your Creative Soul. In Note to Self. [Audio Podcast, 24 mins] Retrieved from:

School of Library and Information Studies Grading Statement:

Grades reflect professional judgements of student achievement made by instructors. These judgements are based on a combination of absolute achievement and relative performance in class. The instructor should mark in terms of raw scores, rank the assignments in order of merit, and with due attention to the verbal descriptions of the various grades, assign an appropriate final letter grade.

Grades are calculated in accordance with the SLIS Grading Procedure.

Academic Integrity:

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

Students should also be mindful of the SLIS Copyright Policy.

Inclusive Language and Equity:

The Faculty of Education is committed to providing an environment of respect for all people within the university community and to educating faculty, staff, and students in developing teaching and learning contexts that are welcoming to all. The Faculty recommends that students and staff use inclusive language to create a classroom atmosphere in which students’ experiences and views are treated with equal respect and value in relation to their gender, racial background, sexual orientation and ethnic background. Students who require accommodations in this course due to a disability affecting mobility, vision, hearing, learning, or mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with Specialized Support and Disability Services.

Recording of Lectures:

Recording of lectures is permitted only with the prior written consent of the professor or if recording is part of an approved accommodation plan.

Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.