N.C. A&T Library Awarded LSTA Grants for Makerspace, Student Learning

By Jordan Howse / 06/24/2021 Students, Library

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 24, 2021) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s F.D. Bluford Library has been awarded a $50,000 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant to be used for the creation of the Bluford Maker Lab: Design Your Future and a $93,704 LSTA grant to launch a program where students will create instructional videos on topics relevant to information literacy and research under the direction of the library.

At Bluford Library, the $50,000 grant will fund a space where anyone at N.C. A&T can create digital and physical objects and access emerging technology.

“We are thrilled that, with LSTA’s support, we can expand access to the tenets and tools of the Maker philosophy to the entire university community via Bluford Library’s new maker lab,” said Stephen Bollinger, the lead principal investigator. “This will allow all of our students, colleagues, budding entrepreneurs, and innovators to ideate, prototype, and create projects that benefit their coursework, our university, and ultimately the world with their new ideas."

Bollinger and his team – which will include three student leaders – will serve patrons by teaching them how to use this new technology and providing a space that welcomes everyone to make. The Aggie community will be able to experiment with tools as diverse as a 3D printer, a sewing machine and a soldering iron. Moreover, faculty across the disciplines will be able to incorporate equipment like this into their courses to create more hands-on learning experiences.

The library has been active in supporting making projects since 2016, but this is a welcome expansion of services for more students with better hours of availability and more advanced equipment. This will be the first makerspace on campus open to all students from all disciplines, with the hope that exciting collaborations will result. Finally, the space has been designed to host class sessions, so that making can be integrated directly into course content across campus, Bollinger said.

Bluford Library is grateful for the support of LSTA and IMLS as it embarks on this project to expand access to new technology and to creative making spaces at A&T, Bollinger added.

The library received two of the 49 competitive grants for fiscal year 2020-2021 awarded to North Carolina libraries from this year’s federal allotment of about $4.8 million.

The second grant of $93,704 will be used to launch a program where students will create instructional videos on topics relevant to information literacy and research under the direction of the library. The library anticipates these videos will become an invaluable teaching resource for librarians and instructors to embed into their classrooms and to share with student researchers.

"Our project in Bluford Library will impact the Aggie Community by increasing our (undergraduate) students' information literacy and research skills while supporting online learning," said Joanie Chavis, director of Research and Instruction and the principal investigator who will be managing the project, "We expect that through this grant project, our students will gain a deeper understanding of research and what is available in the Bluford library to support them while being able to see themselves as creators of these online knowledge resources that helps others."

The eight students who are hired to work on this grant with Ms. Chavis will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with topics as diverse as video creation to curriculum design. The library looks forward to seeing how this project impacts student success and learning and we are grateful for LSTA's support. The LSTA grant program administered by the State Library of North Carolina funds library projects across the state that advance excellence and promote equity by strengthening capacity, expanding access and community engagement in North Carolina's libraries.

Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu

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