WEEK 9: Argue a point of view

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    • #2306
      Kate McKelliget
      Participant

      Since no topics were provided for this week’s ‘argue a point of view’ I have created my own. The topic that I have chosen was inspired by my classmates’ answers of question three of this week’s Twitter chat.

      Do all makerspaces require a 3D printer? This post will argue that not all makerspaces require 3D printers.

      Makerspaces provide access to otherwise inaccessible technologyIn her 2014 book, Bagley defines a makerspace as ‘a space that has been designed to allow [library] users to create, build and learn new projects and technologies’.  In essence, the library provides a space filled with technologies that patrons can learn to use and use on their own accord or at classes. Although they can be found in a number of different environments, they are commonly found in public libraries. When the librarian Michael Groenendyk was asked in a recent interview why public libraries are a natural space for makerspaces, he responded ‘one of the of the most important mandates for public libraries has been to provide equal access to information and knowledge’. Groenendyk supported this statement with the example of the 3D printer: 3D printers hold much potential ‘to drastically change the world’ but most people cannot afford or simply access one. Makerspaces of public libraries allow the community to access and use such technology. Other pioneers in the field of makerspaces, such as Bagley, also agree with this sentiment. One need only look at successful makerspace projects such as that at the San Diego Public Library and the Chattanooga Public Library (both in the USA) to realise the potential of providing 3D printers to the community.

      Others, such as Hugh Rundle, are not supportive of the idea of libraries purchasing 3D printers. Rundle suggests that a library’s (or a librarian’s) desire to purchase one is due to ‘technolust’ or a fear of not jumping on the bandwagon. Further, he states that there is no business case for them, arguing that the library’s business is in the intangible, rather than the tangible (for example, the manufacturing of physical objects via a 3D printer). Although this post hopes to prove that not all makerspaces require a 3D printer, it does not agree the argument provided Rundle.

      As Ranganathan’s fifth law of library science reminds us, the library is a growing organism. The library must not impede its growth, lest it become irrelevant to its users. Just as libraries embraced new information tools such as microfiche, CD-ROMs and the internet, so too are libraries starting to embrace 3D printers. Wiseman states that such makerspaces provide ‘a glimpse into the future of libraries’. Notably, in complete (but not purposeful) contrast to the sentiments of Rundle’s article, Wiseman writes that libraries are ‘becoming places to not just imbibe knowledge but to create it – physically’. As the library and its makerspaces continue to grow, perhaps there will come a time when it is the norm for 3D printers to be provided as nonchalantly as laser jet printers but that norm does not yet exist. Until then, individual makerspaces must decide whether their space requires a 3D printer.

      It can be argued that makerspaces only require a 3D printer if it reflects the needs of its user community (this hypothesis was developed from reading Public Library News, Bagley and The Library as Incubator Project in particular). Therefore, not all makerspaces will necessarily require one. Bagley succinctly writes in her 2014 book,

      Do not feel obligated to purchase something you will not use just because you feel like your makerspace will not be complete without one. If you do not truly need a 3-D printer and do not have any plans to use it in your programming do not buy it!

      One of the many things I have learnt for certain in my first semester of this masters is that any library product, service, program or collection must reflect the needs of the user community lest the user find no use in them and make them redundant. In this way, when creating a makerspace, Bagley states in her 2014 book that one must ‘listen to your patron community and see what they want’. If your community currently expresses no desire to learn about or use a 3D printer it seems wasteful to purchase one as it will seldom be used. As Groenendyk states, ‘even at its lowest prices, 3D printing is an expensive technology and 3D printers are definitely a purchase that needs to be justified’. In this way it can be seen that 3D printers do not a makerspace make…! Many believe that these printers make up a makerspace, however, the technology required to make up a makerspace is actually that which meets the library users’ needs. In some cases this may include a 3D printer and in other cases it may not. As The Library as Incubator Project states, ‘there are many other ways that libraries can incorporate “making” or even create a makerspace without 3D printers’. This is reflected in the forum posts of my classmates that discuss makerpsaces. For example, Debbie attended a dress making program and even commented on how a makerspace need not be heavily based in technology. Peldon attended a makerspace program aimed at children that required only craft materials. Although libraries have the potential to provide their community with otherwise inaccessible technology, and although this sort of provision is growing in popularity, a makerspace need only require a 3D printer if it will be of use to its users (see Public Library News and Bagley).

       

      I would appreciate any thoughts you had on this post. Also, I would like to know what you think about a counter argument I created for my own post:

      The concept of 3D printing is very new. I was not aware of it until I did this week’s readings. Even if a patron was asked by means of questionnaire (etc) if they would use a 3D printer at their local library, how would they know if they would want to or not if they don’t truly understand what it is? Is it perhaps best to provide access to (and classes about) 3D printers and hope that the community realises their potential?

       

      Photograph from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/creative_tools/8080028696/in/photolist-dj1g2A-bJUFDP-bvZUXS-bTm9Fn-or9ekw-ykWf1W-obFmS7-dzG5qe-kvhRaR-2L1zYT-pHX65E-w3T894-efrcXY-7Pbpsw-dnDDuL-dj1hLt-imfHee-kvjYDJ-dj1hET-dj1hmz-eazhzq-dfEhso-efqXz7-efqXsu-bvSVpr-ejeak9-8omzXk-ej8uZe-cT8FLd-deYdCb-nsUBaN-nCu5sB-8DYS1i-jwwkay-nwJbBx-romEYN-wqxLL8-ej8vJa-mJ5T5a-mJ5WQ4-mJ5WVK-mJ7Hob-mJ5Tkv-mJ5T86-mJ7HJS-mJ5Tgn-mJ7HuU-mJ5SVH-ej8vuB-ej8shc

      • This topic was modified 4 years, 12 months ago by Kate McKelliget. Reason: Making and makerspaces, Week 9, argue a point
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    • #2374
      Christopher Brander
      Participant

      I enjoyed your post and counter-argument, Kate. 3D printers are expensive and certainly it seems wasteful to buy them if no one is going to use them. But, on the other hand, like you and others have pointed out, sometimes people don’t know what they want and can’t ask for things that they don’t know exist. An example of a big new expensive technological purchase being worth it for me is an iphone. I never had a smartphone before this year and didn’t think I needed one. Obviously I knew what they were but didn’t think it was worth the cost. After using it for only a few days I knew how wrong I was and I will never go back to a dumb phone. I think it would be interesting to examine the experiences of libraries and users who have bought and used 3D printers. Have they found it a useful purchase? Why or why not? The answers to these questions could inform other libraries’ decisions on whether to buy a 3d printer.

      • #2562
        Kate McKelliget
        Participant

        Thanks for your reply Chris! I think your example of the smart phone is spot on. I was in a similar situation. I only ever used my phone to text and call. When I was given a hand-me-down iPhone earlier this year, I found my self browsing the net, sharing photos and videos with my friends, on social media, doing online banking etc on my iPhone without even realising these were things I wanted my phone to do! I even ending up giving my iPad away because I never used it anymore. I found reading the article on San Diego Public library really interesting because, by the way the expressed their article, it seemed that they provided the printers before they knew there was a precise need for it. Their program is going really, extremely well. I keep thinking back to our tour of the makerspace at the Edge and the rationale there.

      • #2642
        Christopher Brander
        Participant

        I think it is really important to consider the users’ needs when making big purchases and the library needs to have a rationale behind why they would purchase them. But I think the librarians could still have ideas about potential uses for 3d printers even before users start requesting them. People don’t always know what they want 🙂

      • #2753
        Kate McKelliget
        Participant

        Great expression of this idea, Chris. I was quite shocked to find that hobby 3D printers need not actually be that expensive. But I suppose it’s relative to the library’s budget, right?

    • #2401
      Deborah Fuller
      Participant

      Very interesting post Kate. 3D printers seem to be the new thing now, but like you say not every makerspace needs them. The feeling I got from the Twitter chat was most of us are happy to pursue our creative side using more traditional means, but as you say the most important thing a library should consider is its users and their needs. A core concept that like you I have picked up on since starting this degree.

      • #2567
        Kate McKelliget
        Participant

        Thanks for reading my post Debbie. I really enjoyed reading yours; great to see you found a makerspace so aligned to your interests. Really inspired to try some some over the summer holidays! Our resent trip to the Edge made me want to dabble in something like robotics too, just for fun!

    • #2414
      Saurav Khadka
      Participant

      A nice post Kate, I also agree with your point of view that not all makerspaces need 3D printer to be a good makerspace. A library is a place to learn, it is an information center and one cannot argue that it must have a 3D printer. Libraries have been providing lots of valuable information related to research, innovation, and references as well, however they do have lots of makerspace programs available for different people to learn lots of new things. Still they are doing good and will be doing better. Thus, I also say that its not necessary for a makerspaces to have a 3D pinter!

      Cheers!

      • #2566
        Kate McKelliget
        Participant

        Thanks for reading my post, Saurav! I like that you wrote

        they do have lots of makerspace programs available for different people to learn lots of new things

        This gave me a fresh perspective on my post. Perhaps there is something in the amount of variety the libraries offer too? If every library is providing 3D printing and laser cutting etc, who will maintain the sewing, craft etc classes? I wonder if libraries can all provide both …

    • #2883
      Samantha Maddox
      Participant

      Hi Kate, i really enjoyed your post and your individual argument 🙂 I also do not believe that a 3D printer is an essential purchase for every library to accommodate a maker space environment,i feel that when i think of a maker space environment i think of art and craft not the technical aspect of a 3D printer which is something i would expect tot see in a space such as the Edge. And Remember what Daniel said at the Edge tour… In 3-5 years time anyone will be able to purchase a 3D printer, they will cost a tenth of the price and you will be able to purchase them in Big W! 🙂

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