• Makerspaces – workshops openly accessible to the public, where people can create objects or learn about making – are a much talked about subject within the library world. An increasing number of public libraries, as well as school and academic libraries, are establishing, or planning to establish makerspaces within their institutions. Many enthusiastic claims are made about the potential benefits of makerspaces, by supporting and encouraging: creativity, enterprise, learning and self-fulfilment. However, there is limited research looking at whether those claims are borne out in practice, particularly within a library context.
    This study aims to evaluate the extent to which those claims are applicable to public library makerspaces, by researching what the benefits are to users of an individual makerspace. DigiLab makerspace in Barking Library and Learning Centre was chosen as a case study site, in order to test the validity of these claims in an established public library makerspace. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews with DigiLab organisers and members, and analysis of projects and objects made by members.
    The research found that in the case of DigiLab, the makerspace environment supports and develops the creativity of its users, promotes informal learning and knowledge sharing between members and provides opportunities for putting skills learnt towards making money. Perhaps more than anything, DigiLab is a highly social space, which encourages people to develop and fulfil personal goals. Though the findings are specific to the context of DigiLab, it is hoped that some features of the makerspace can be applied elsewhere.