Convivial Making Study

Welcome to the “Convivial Making” study participant information page.

What is this?

The Convivial Making study is a multi-site case study in three public library makerspaces that is occurring in the Spring of 2016.

Who’s doing the study?

I’m Shannon Crawford Barniskis, a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies. I was a public librarian for 19 years, and I am a maker: I 3D print, knit, sew, paint, garden, tinker with electronics projects…you name it, I make it.

What’s involved?

I am a participant observer at the library creation places. This means I am often making things right alongside you, and would love to chat about our projects, help you with your project, hear about your project. I would also love to watch how you work on your project and, if you are OK with it, take photos of JUST your HANDS as you work.


I am also interested in doing longer interviews on the stuff you make at the library, and how well it works for you using this space.

I may ask you to draw a floorplan of the makerspace–either a real one or your ideal. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like it–you can always say “no thanks” to anything in this study.

Why is this happening?

Library makerspaces and other creative places are a widespread phenomenon, but very little is known about what library users think about them, what works or don’t work well in them, or how the rules, policies, and spaces function.

map lb makerspaces

Here’s a map of just some of the public library makerspaces, which self-reported to a researcher at the University of Michigan. There are MANY others. Source:

Many libraries are seeking funding for these spaces. Librarians, funders, civic leaders, and many makers consider makerspaces spaces very useful for their communities, so it would be very helpful to know what you think about your experience.

Do I have to be involved?

Absolutely not. This in an OPT-IN study, which means that I won’t observe you or chat with you unless you give your express consent.

Also, you can agree to some parts of the study, while not agreeing to others. For example, you can say you don’t mind me watching you as long as I don’t interrupt. Or you can say, “Hey, I would feel creeped out if you sat there just watching me, but I’m happy to talk to you.” Or whatever you are comfortable with. You’re in charge.

Plus, this study is ENTIRELY confidential. Unless someone sees you talking to me (and we can speak in a private room in the library if you choose) no one will ever know you participated in the study.

Do I get something for participating?

Only the pure satisfaction of knowing you helped further knowledge about a emerging field of practice in libraries. As libraries shift their services to best serve their communities, such knowledge is invaluable.

Have you done other studies on this topic?

Yes. Most of the work is preliminary, but has been published here and here, with similar projects here, here, and here. You are welcome to checkout my poster projects on early stages of the project here. Another article on this topic is forthcoming at Public Library Quarterly later this year.

I’m a participant. Can I get a draft of the findings?

Yes! You are encouraged to look over the data you provided and fill in any blanks you see, offer alternate viewpoints, or otherwise engage with the data. Just contact me at crawfo55 at uwm dot edu. I would love to have participants in the study continue onward to engage with the analysis of the data, so let me know if you’re interested in that.

Other questions?

contact me at crawfo55 at uwm dot edu

Consent Forms

This study has been approved by the UWM Institutional Review Board as of 5 April, 2016, and is study #16.309.

Thank you for your interest!