The Fayetteville Free Library. Image courtesy of Holmes▪King▪Kallquist & Associates Architects.

Library Friday: Visiting Fayetteville Free Library

Before I dive head-first into the second post of my Library Friday series, there is something I must get off my chest. I didn’t know what a makerspace was before starting my Masters in Library and Information Science at SU. There … I said it! Please don’t tell anyone.

Luckily, I’m a quick learner and I now know that a makerspace is a community space where people create things while in the company of other community members. It’s that simple! And guess where the first makerspace in the country was born? Just seven miles from SU’s main campus at the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL).

Many times, when people think of makerspaces, they assume 3D printers to be the main ingredient. After a nice long talk with Executive Director of FFL, Sue Considine, I learned from her that a makerspace is not about the the tools at all … it’s about the people using them.

FFL has three makerspaces — the Fabrication Lab, the Digital Creation Lab, and Little Makers — along with the Motto Sheet Music Collection, Cafe 300, and countless programs for all ages. If your typical library routine consists of entering the library, borrowing a book, and leaving … think again when you head to Fayetteville!

In my interview with Sue, I found out the following fast facts about FFL.

Number of Employees at Fayetteville Free Library

  • 14 full time professionals, 10 of which are librarians
  • 20-25 support staff members
  • Over 60 community volunteers

Fayetteville’s team is unlike most public libraries. Sue explained the process to me in detail: The librarians are responsible for finding locals who have expertise in different areas. FFL provides these volunteers with access to the necessary tools, support, marketing and promotions, and technologies, and then these locals share knowledge with community members who want to learn from them through various programs.

Regarding the support staff members, these folks are graduate students looking to gain professional experience. If hired, Sue urges them to embark on projects that scare them. Why? When students challenge themselves at FFL, they tap into hidden potential.

Overall vibe and distinguishing features

FFL is an inviting and innovative public library. I had the pleasure of touring the library with some of my classmates earlier this month. We learned that the building itself used to be the Stickley Furniture Factory. All of the old wood gives the library a classic, cozy feel, which contrasts nicely with the various technologies available for patrons to use.

What FFL looks for when they are hiring

“What I look for is someone who is very very enthusiastic about service and about engaging with people. I also look for individuals who have that kind of internal drive for excellence. Our bar is set extremely high. […] The most important thing for me, when I’m sitting down with a student who is looking to become a member of our support staff is enthusiasm, sincerity, and some humility.” -Sue Considine

What can you expect to be asked by patrons

Everything! FFL staffers are inspired daily by what the local community is interested in and what societal trends are underway. Sue shared that the best way for librarians to know what their patrons are interested in is to simply engage in conversations with them and listen up.

“The digital world brings us together but it equally tears us apart … what is the unique thing that a library brings to a group of people? Other people! Librarians create conditions where people can talk to each other.” – Sue Considine, Executive Director of the Fayetteville Free Library

Kayla Del Biondo

Kayla Del Biondo

Kayla is a first year MLIS student, and the current student liaison for the Library and Information Science Master's program at SU. She is interested in children's literature and academic libraries, and aspires to be both a librarian and a small farmer.

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