September 16, 2015 at 12:43 am #2044Luke MysliwyParticipant
“Makerspaces: what’s the point? Should makerspaces really be a priority for libraries?” I have decided to argue in the affirmative for this proposition because I believe that access to space, materials and tools are as valuable as access to information for library patrons, and can be a leveller to potentially creative people from all sections of society
I personally see the most valuable contribution of maker spaces as being a place for people to access equipment, materials, and most importantly, space in which they can feel comfortable and able to be creative. I especially like the idea of patrons being able to utilise equipment that would normally be beyond their financial means, just as patrons have access to thousands of books and online materials that would otherwise be beyond their means to own. But should they be part of what a library does?
Hugh Rundle writes in his blog that furnishing a library with a 3D printer (a piece of equipment that might be included in a maker-space) is unjustifiable, a form of techno-lust, that librarians should concern themselves with furnishing patrons with information rather than a tool for creativity. That the making of physical objects is beyond the scope of a libraries mission. One of the most succinct counter arguments to this point of view comes from Jason Griffey in an article for ALA Techsource – “libraries have adopted the role of providing universal access to technology over the last couple of decades”. There is precedence! A glance around a public library in Brisbane will show you people using photocopiers, computers, scanners and printers. Some of these people are using this equipment to make digital and 2D art, so why should they not have access to a new and exciting piece of technology? A 3D printer is not necessary for a makerspace. But Hugh’s argument against the inclusion of 3D printers could be expanded to include ANY type of space or equipment devoted to self-directed creativity. So why makerspaces? Well, the public yen for DIY and the worldwide maker movement would suggest that there is a great demand.
In a Huffington Post article published earlier this year, Brit Moran points to the million plus individual craft sellers on Etsy (just one of many online handmade marketplaces on the net), and millions more who exhibit their creations and craft tips on sites such as Pinterest as evidence of a burgeoning Maker Movement. She suggests that the “domestic and creative arts have floundered in schools”, which she feels has lead people to want to discover for themselves skills they feel they have missed out on. What better place to learn and explore such skills than in the public library? This seems to have moved past some kind of niche trend, to the type of demand that libraries should respond to with spaces, tools and (where possible) tutors, as the Brooklyn Public Library has, where users have access to a variety of computer and media equipment on which to develop digital creations, along with the provision of classes and workshops to gain the skills they need to make such creations.
Another champion of the Maker Movement, Tim Bajaran likens it to the computer clubs that sprang up around California in the 1970s, whose members went on to help develop the personal computers we use today, and is excited about the potential this movement has to transform people from consumers into makers. In this summary of the movement for Time magazine he expresses concern at the lack of attendance by African American and Hispanic families (demographics which are disproportionally socially and economically disadvantaged in the USA), suggesting that at the moment this movement is not yet inclusive of those who may be without the money, means, leisure time or SPACE to be creative. Public libraries already provide free access to information and entertainment to the most disadvantaged in society, I think that mission could be expanded to include access to space and tools in which to be creative as well.
- This topic was modified 5 years, 12 months ago by Luke Mysliwy.
September 18, 2015 at 1:28 pm #2056Deborah FullerParticipant
A very interesting argument Luke, which I enjoyed reading. I thought it was good how you presented both sides of the argument, but concluded that makerspaces should definitely come under the libraries’ mandate. I will be attending my first public library makerspace on Sunday, so it will be interesting to compare the program against your argument. I am particularly interested to see the demographics that attend, as I also read that minorities are under-represented in library programs. Thank you for giving me something to think about when I attend the program. A minor point I noticed in your title, you put week 10 and it’s week 9, they’re all starting to blur into one.
September 19, 2015 at 6:04 pm #2064Ruth McConchieParticipant
Hi Luke, thanks for your post. I also think you drew out many interesting points from different sides of the argument. I was really interested in how different demographics interact/ attend/ contribute in makerspaces. What would you do to try and encourage a broader cultural engagement with makerspaces? Should the librarians consult and develop these programs alongside members of these communities to make these programs more inclusive?
September 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm #2090Sarah RossParticipant
I have only just read your post and realised we argued the same type of point but differently! I feel that Etsy is such a demonstration of the output of the makerspace culture and your point that so little is taught in the school environment that there is need for spaces to learn how to be creative is really interesting. I was taught how to cook and sew but that was in the context (many, many years ago) of becoming an efficient household manager rather than as a creative outlet.
I was also interested in Tim Bajaran – I think it was the Caitlin Bagley material which talked at length about making facilities available to those in wheelchairs but I had not considered other barriers which you touched on.
September 20, 2015 at 2:51 pm #2105Caitlin .Participant
I also think this increase in maker culture is about community, a reaction against the lack of connections in the modern world and a desire to see something, touch something real created by our own hands. in this regard libraries become even more important as they can create access to both equipment, space and a supportive community. Allowing people to bring more meaningful connections into their lives.
Libraries as centers of community engagement is a long held tradition so therefore only natural to include the ‘maker movement’ whether it be traditional or technology based.
September 20, 2015 at 4:41 pm #2115Robynne Kilborne BlakeParticipant
Hi Luke, thanks for your thoughtful reflection.
The two things that struck me most about the makerspace movement was the way in which creativity and community are both things people seem to long for and seek out. Libraries have a long tradition of being community hubs and I think you’re right to point out that this makes them ideally placed to be part of the DIY/maker movement. At the same time, creativity thrives on information input and, again, libraries are ideally placed to provide space to foster and feed this process.
I’m looking forward to attending my first makerspace activity next week. For a long time I’d given up my creative pursuits in favour of – of, what, I don’t know – the busy life of a mother of a buch of boys. This week’s readings and conversations have inspired me to get back to the sewing that I loved. I have a cupboard full of materials just waiting for me to remember them and come looking. Can’t wait!
Bah humbug, Hugh Rundle – 3D printers are totally amazing and, as you rightly point out, libraries are full of people printing, copying and creating. Maybe they aren’t a necessity but there are lots of people who point out to me that all of my beloved books on my book shelves aren’t strictly a necessity either. Unless of course, like me, reading is like breathing – completely and utterly necessary!
September 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm #2193Steven WalkerParticipant
Hi Luke, I share this opinion and however i do feel that libraries should carry 3d printers and have makerspacers to keep libraries alive and in the here and now. They have wethered the storm of the internet geneeration and have adapted, so i hope to see libraries embracing future technologies as well. A few of the services i have attended at the weekend and in the last few weeks have given me alot to think about. I can no longer say “im bored , theres nothing to do” when there is a whole world of fun to be had with makerspaces, this is in Brisbane. However in Kalgoorlie when i lived there , there literally was nothing to do. The library there played a low key role and i could almost smell its closure, even charging $10 an hour for internet usage still.
Well Done! Steve
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