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IMLS Grant Press Release

October 1, 2014


Erica Halverson, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, UW-Madison, 608-320-6056

Rebekah Willett, School of Library and Information Studies, UW-Madison, 608-263-2955

Trent Miller, Madison Public Library,, 608-266-5975


UW-Madison and Madison Public Library Awarded National Leadership Grant


Madison, WI – The University of Wisconsin-Madison, in partnership with Madison Public Library, has received a two-year $456,627 National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant will focus on makerspaces and learning across the Madison Public Library’s Bubbler program starting in October 2014.


Trent Miller (Madison Public Library Bubbler manager) and Jesse Vieau (Madison Public Library Teen Librarian) will collaborate with Dr. Erica Halverson (UW-Madison Department of Curriculum & Instruction) and Dr. Rebekah Willett (UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies) to study a variety of existing Bubbler programs, and then collaboratively re-design programs to support learning. 


The Bubbler is a maker-focused program for all ages that stretches across the Madison Public Library system including nine libraries and various outreach locations. The Bubbler includes activities, demonstrations, and make-and-take workshops. Programs feature area experts in art, design, and technology. Unlike many makerspaces in libraries that are housed exclusively within a single library, the Bubbler is unique in its system-wide approach to learning through making. This grant project will support existing Bubbler programs including the successful Meet your Maker and Artist in Residence events as well as innovative new partnerships to use the maker-based learning model to engage underserved populations, including justice-involved youth at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, Shelter Home and Neighborhood Intervention Program.


The grant will allow UW-Madison researchers and public library officials to learn more about learning through making and to analyze how Bubbler programming is developed and sustained system-wide.  The researchers will study how the Bubbler programs facilitate communities of learners, what makes a program successful, and how to evaluate makerspaces and learning. These findings will be valuable to new and developing maker programs in libraries around the country. The research project also involves funding from Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment ($115,000 over two years) and the Morgridge Center for Public Service ($80,519). These grants will allow the Bubbler team to develop youth media projects for teens in the justice system and to connect these teens with UW-Madison students through service learning projects.


The largest museum and library joint grant program administered by IMLS, National Leadership Grants support projects that will advance the ability of museums and libraries to preserve culture, heritage, and knowledge while enhancing learning. This year’s National Leadership Grant recipients will generate new tools, research, models, services, practices, and alliances that will positively impact both the awarded institution and the nation.  This grant was one of 51 grants to library projects totaling $9,291,441 announced on September 11.

About The Bubbler at Madison Public Library
The Bubbler is a new programming model for Madison Public Library. Whether offering the basics of animation, screen printing, music, clothing design, dance, or painting (to name a few), The Bubbler’s hands-on workshops introduce participants to a variety of local experts who share their talents and physical resources.  For more information, visit, Madison Bubbler on Facebook, or @madisonbubbler on Twitter.


About the School of Library and Information Studies, the iSchool at UW-Madison

The School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), the iSchool at UW-Madison, prepares students to make a difference working with people, information, technologies, and communities. SLIS offers an undergraduate certificate in Digital Studies, an MA in Library and Information Studies (through face-to-face and distance learning), and a PhD program. SLIS’s programs nurture and challenge tomorrow’s information leaders to serve the public good and empower the communities they serve. For more information, visit, UW-Madison-SLIS on Facebook, or @uwmadisonslis on Twitter.


About the School of Education, UW-Madison

The nation’s top-ranked public School of Education is committed to teaching leaders who will enrich lives, transform communities and better the world. The departments and units that make up the School are addressing many of society’s most critical needs, from challenges in education at all levels to issues in health and other human services, while also contributing to the quality of life through the arts. To learn more visit


About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. The IMLS mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit, USIMLS on Facebook, or @US_IMLS on Twitter.