The theme for this year’s 125th New York Library Association conference was “Explore. Learn. Grow.” However, it seemed as if the topic of makerspaces & STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) was the unofficial theme for the event. Although if anyone had asked me, I would have suggested a “Back to the Future” theme as the conference began on October 21st, 2015. But I digress…
At the exhibit hall, I came across a table for NYLA MSRT – the Making & Steam Round Table. (They are currently a NYLA Round Table but are working to become a NYLA Section, which would allow them to create programming at future conferences.) Their area actually spanned many tables, with many different activities. They had a table for making an oobleck, a non-Newtonian solid that’s frequently explored in children’s science activities. The Round Table also had a 3D printer on display, with some live demos scheduled.
The Academic & Special Libraries Section also got into the maker game. Their table had a button-maker that passerby could use to create a button right on the spot. And they raffled off the device at the end of the conference.
Also fitting the unofficial theme was a new vendor in the exhibit hall, called LittleBits. They sell various-sized kits of electronic color-coded “bits” that young people can fit together and experiment with. This could be a great addition for a library looking to add creative and educational programming.
A few years ago at NYLA, the unofficial theme seemed to be tablets and e-readers, based on the workshop topics and the giveaways at the exhibit hall. This year, it was makers & STEAM. Who knows what next year’s will be? Only time will tell.