October 31, 2015 at 11:03 am #2871Rachel KersleyParticipant
Makerspaces, as with most other programs that libraries might consider running, come with a list of potential issues to consider. A lot of those issues are practical ones – how much will it cost, will people actually show up, is there enough space for it, and so on. Obviously practical concerns like these are important – libraries, like any other organisation, rely on practicalities in order to keep running.
At the same time, though, it’s entirely possible to get too tied up in practicalities and forget about the actual goals that those practicalities are meant to be supporting (for instance, according to Hugh Rundle 3D printers in libraries might not be one of the best things ever – an opinion that is perfectly sensible from a practical point of view, but also completely ignores the counter argument of ‘but 3D printers! Super, super awesome 3D printers!’).
As the lead in might have tipped you off, I’m not really here for practical issues, even as I’ll acknowledge their importance in the wider scheme of things. What I want to talk about instead is ethical issues – or at least, things that I consider to fit under that umbrella.
As I see it, discussing makerspaces in this context means looking at the potential impacts on both groups and individuals:
- Groups: makerspaces can do a huge amount to help disadvantaged groups. That help can take any number of forms. For instance, in Ruth’s post on the twitter chat, she talked about makerspaces helping the art community in Australia – as well as helping to build community generally. In addition, the skills that makerspaces teach people have the potential to be life-changing for people who might not otherwise have had the chance to gain them – like ‘disadvantaged youth’, who, as well as helping themselves, are potentially going to take advantage of the opportunity to help out in their communities. And that’s not even going into the importance of makerspaces in the growing tech revolution in Africa.
- Individuals: makerspaces help to foster people’s creativity and innovation, while also introducing them to new skills. Not only that, but the sense of community makerspaces have the potential to create can be immensely beneficial for the people involved in them.
Essentially, both points mostly boil down to ‘makerspaces help people, making them a good thing to do’. Really, makerspaces have two main benefits – giving people skills that will help them and their community on a practical level, and encouraging creativity and innovation.
Whatever the practical issues regarding makerspaces are, to my mind they pale in comparison to everything that makerspaces can do. The benefits on a community or group level are fairly straightforward, but the individual benefits are massively important as well – makerspaces encourage creativity and creation. Obviously we’re all going to have different opinions, and to some people practical issues are the important thing to focus on, but I’m firmly in the camp that says creativity really freaking important, and anything that fosters it is something that should be supported.
November 1, 2015 at 11:55 am #2887Ruth McConchieParticipant
Great post Rae, I’m firmly in the creativity is really freaking important camp too. I think you highlight the accessibility of makerspaces really well in this post. Makerspaces are a gateway library program and safe space for many marginalised groups, so as you write libraries to have some ethical considerations around including makerspaces, whether they have access to a 3D printer or not.
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