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Gov. Ricketts Unveils Library Innovation Studios Makerspace Partnership

This fall Governor Pete Ricketts announced that 18 Nebraska libraries will be the initial local participants in Nebraska’s Library Innovation Studios: Transforming Rural Communities project to create library makerspaces. The Nebraska Library Commission was recently awarded a National Leadership Grant of $530,732 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for this partnership project with the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL), Nebraska Innovation Studio, Nebraska Extension, Regional Library Systems, and local public libraries.

“This partnership demonstrates how our Nebraska communities can use technology and education to empower community residents to create, learn, and invent,” said Governor Ricketts. “By expanding the skills of the workforce in our communities, supporting entrepreneurs, and encouraging lifelong learning, this partnership reinforces our vibrant business climate and supports community development.”

The project uses Library Innovation Studios makerspaces hosted by public libraries to support community engagement and participatory learning experiences by providing access to technology and innovative learning tools not readily accessible locally. This is expected to stimulate creativity, innovation, and the exchange of ideas to facilitate entrepreneurship, skills development, and local economic development.

The Nebraska Innovation Studio—the UNL makerspace—is the creative and collaborative hub of UNL’s Nebraska Innovation Campus, where makers and builders team up to conceptualize, prototype, and iterate projects that solve problems and influence change. The primary focus is on creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurship, and education.

Nebraska Extension is one of three components of UNL’s land-grant mission. It is a dynamic educational organization that puts research to work in local communities, businesses, and individuals’ lives. Extension professionals are recognized for subject matter competence, excellent teaching skills, and community presence. They live and work in Nebraska communities across the state and engage with local and state partners in educational program delivery to address critical issues identified by constituents.

The initial local library partners that will host one of the four rotating makerspaces are:

  • Ainsworth Public Library
  • Ashland Public Library
  • Bridgeport Public Library
  • Broken Bow Public Library
  • Central City Public Library
  • Crete Public Library
  • Geneva Public Library
  • Loup City Public Library
  • Nebraska City, Morton-James Public Library
  • Neligh Public Library
  • Norfolk Public Library
  • North Platte Public Library
  • Plattsmouth Public Library
  • Ravenna Public Library
  • Scottsbluff, Lied Scottsbluff Public Library
  • Sidney Public Library, Special Model Program Partner
  • South Sioux City Public Library
  • Wayne Public Library

Twelve additional libraries will be selected in 2018 to host makerspaces in 2019/20. This project began July 1, 2017 and will conclude June 30, 2020. For more information about the project or equipment that will be featured in the rotating makerspaces, see

“Nebraska’s public libraries are the natural gathering points for people to come together to share materials, knowledge, and experiences,” said Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner. “Whether the materials and tools are high tech or low tech, digital or analog, art or science, the focus is to create, invent, tinker, explore, and discover using the tools, materials, and knowledge available. Libraries have always been dedicated to community partnership, collaboration, and the free exchange of ideas—makerspaces are the next step in that progression.”

“UNL and Nebraska Innovation Studio are extremely excited to be partnering with the Nebraska Library Commission and libraries across the State of Nebraska to help bring hands-on learning experiences to Nebraskans of all ages,” said UNL Nebraska Innovation Studio Founder Shane Farritor. “I think it is very important to provide the opportunity to be creative and this partnership is going to create new opportunities.”

From the December 2017 issue (PDF) of Nebraska Broadband