Maker Faire 2017 Behind-the-Scenes with
Alex Giannini, Westport Library Manager of Experiential Learning and Co-Chair of Maker Faire Westport
Q. How did the Westport Library and Maker Faire begin this partnership?
A. Mark Mathias, founder of Remarkable STEAM, Inc., approached the Library with an idea. Our then-Director of Innovation, Bill Derry, liked what he heard and set out to figure out how to make it happen. That first year, they expected a few hundred people, since the MakerSpace was new but nearly 2,500 people showed up!
Q. How long have you been involved with the Maker Faire? Why are you passionate about it?
A. I’ve been involved since 2015, my first year at the Library. Last year, after Bill Derry retired, I became the co-chair of the event along with Mark. When I first arrived here, I had a very hard time visualizing what a Maker Faire at a Library would look like. Even now, after two of them (one that had nearly 8,000 attendees and another that came close to 10,000 people), it’s still hard to put into words what the Faire is like. It’s an explosion of creativity and good vibes, with some of the most interesting people on the planet sharing the things they’re passionate about. Because, at the end of the day, Maker Faire is about PASSION!
Q. What is involved in making the Maker Faire happen?
A. Lots and lots of work behind the scenes. With a Maker Faire the better answer might be something like, “little elves that appear in the middle of the night and put everything together,” but that’s not the case. The “little elves” are actually a small group of incredibly dedicated people—both from the Library and from the Maker Faire Planning Committee.
Q. Why is the Maker Faire important to the community?
A. Maker Faire Westport is a family-friendly explosion of creativity and a love letter to the Maker movement. We are helping to transform people into makers, not just consumers. Since the Faire is an open event where all the participants share their inventions, tools and resources, open collaboration is encouraged. What’s more, the Maker Faire brings thousands of people to the downtown area, many from outside Westport. It’s an opportunity to showcase our town and all of the wonderful people and activities who call Westport home.
Q. How can the community be involved with the Maker Faire?
A. We are always looking for Makers to set up a table and display their ideas and products and for volunteers to help set up and run the event. If you’re an interested Maker, please fill out our Call for Makers form at http://westport.makerfaire.com/call-for-makers/. If you’re looking to volunteer at the Faire, you can email me at agiannini [at] westportlibrary [dot] org.