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Portrait of Carli Spina

Associate Professor and Head of Research & Instructional Services

Carli Spina

  • Gladys Marcus Library
  • Research & Instructional Services

E-Textiles in Libraries
A Practical Guide for Librarians

Co-Author: Helen Lane

From light-up scarves to solar-powered backpacks to health monitoring fabric, innovative combinations of electronics and textiles are becoming more prevalent and impressive all the time, making appearances everywhere from the runway to medical settings. In the near future, these wearable technologies will be a standard part of daily life. E-textiles, including soft circuits, conductive fabrics, and sewable electronics, may not be familiar to all library patrons now, but the way that e-textile projects combine STEM topics with fun, familiar crafts make them popular for library programs, interesting to diverse groups, and a great tool for teaching new skills and techniques. Best of all, e-textile projects can be designed to fit into budgets of all sizes and to appeal to patrons of any age and level of technical proficiency.

In this book, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the tools, supplies, techniques, and science behind e-textiles and find out how your library can design successful collections and programs around this hot new topic. The book features key information about the materials and techniques you’ll need to know, examples of libraries that have found success with e-textiles, step-by-step advice on program creation, and projects that can be used for fun and engaging library programs. By the time you finish reading, you will have everything you need to develop a program that will generate excitement within your community and introduce your patrons to new and useful skills. Keep your library on the cutting edge of technology with exciting and engaging e-textiles programming!

Cover of E-Textiles in Libraries

How did you first come up with the idea for this work?
The idea for this book came from a call for proposals around making activities in libraries. The book is part of a series and e-textiles seemed like a good addition to the topics covered in the series.

What was your research process like?
We did several different types of research. We dove into the way that e-textiles were being used, including the current technology and how both industry and makers are using e-textiles. We also talked directly to a number of libraries to learn how they had used e-textiles in their institutions. We also tried out a number of projects.

Does this work relate to your role at FIT? If so, how?
I have had an opportunity to work with my co-author, Helen Lane, on some Makerminds events related to e-textiles, so I have had an opportunity to gain more experience with the hands-on piece and library events on the topic through that work.

What was your biggest challenge? What was most rewarding?
I think both the biggest challenge and biggest reward was interviewing other makers about their work with e-textiles in libraries. It could be tough to reach out to people who I didn’t know, but it was very rewarding to hear about their work and how they were able to have an impact on their communities with e-textiles.

  • Time to publication: 2 years
  • Professor at FIT since 2018