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DIY Education Center

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DIY Education Center

Howard County Library System, Md.

2018 | Honorable Mention

Innovation Synopsis

A signature component of the new Elkridge Branch, the DIY Education Center optimizes collaboration and creativity through a DIY Collection, DIY Institute and DIY Studio. The collection and classes fall into three categories: Repair and Maintain, Create and Adventure, allowing customers to enhance, experiment and explore.


The growing DIY movement has tapped into a basic human need to create, enhance and push the limits. As planning began for the new Elkridge Branch, HCLS hosted “dream” sessions, asking community members what they wanted and floating the idea of a DIY Education Center. Since opening, borrowing has soared by 143 percent and residents are asking for more DIY classes. The collection provides equal opportunities for learning new hands-on skills at no cost.

Key Elements of Innovation

HCLS surveyed staff and hundreds of customers about what tools and classes they might borrow and attend. Then, in consultation with three key business partners, developed a collection plan and series of classes in three categories: Repair and Maintain, Create and Adventure. The DIY collection includes tools for home projects, bicycle repair, baking and sewing. The DIY Studio features such classes as Salad Table Construction, Bicycle Tire Changing Clinic, Introduction to Drop Spindles and Vermicomposting.

Achieved Outcomes

The community has enthusiastically embraced the concept. DIY videos posted on HCLS’ social media attract thousands of views (four to eight times more than others), boosting borrowing by 100 percent. Class attendance is at capacity. Whether for a child and grandparent building a birdhouse, a homeowner borrowing tools to repair a sheetrock wall or an entrepreneur creating a widget on a 3-D printer for a business venture, the DIY Education Center optimizes collaboration and creativity.