Week 9 – Argue a point – Should makerspaces be a priority for public libraries?

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    • #2088
      Sarah Ross
      Participant

      Makerspaces from
      Image from http://makerspacesaustralia.weebly.com/

      I had never heard of “makerspaces” until this week but when I started reading I realised I had come across a similar concept years ago – “evening classes”.  In the UK, councils would run programs, usually, but not always, in the evening at community venues like schools and halls.  The programs varied from strictly educational through to craft – I upholstered a chair during one of these classes.  As Clare Thorpe tweeted, everything old is new again!  I am going to argue the point as to whether makerspaces should really be a priority for public libraries.

      Libraries have changed and are continuing to change.  The Washington State Library blog describes them as “community hubs”.  They are no longer wall-to-wall rows of books and the realm of the “sshh”.  People talk in libraries, they use computers and the internet and there is noise.  In my local library there are meeting spaces, rooms, tables, comfortable sofas, displays, a television (and apparently an X-box).  The library space has changed.  As Caitlin Bagley says, the space for “making” can be small or large, ad hoc or purpose-built but it needs to be space.

      One definition of a “makerspace” is “ a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build”.  The concept emerged from a technology-driven “maker culture”.  The emphasis on technology still persists as Hugh Rundle explores in regard to 3D printers.  These are costly pieces of equipments and purchase of one may not align with patrons’ needs, wants and demands.

      Example of Makerspace from Mackay
      Image from http://frederictonmakerspace.lefora.com/topic/39/What-is-MakerSpace#.Vi8MpvkrLIU
      Makerspaces do not have to be all about technology.  As Brit Morin says, “makers will continue to be found in fields ranging from food to crafts to technology”. (I would not suggest that a library invest in cooking equipment but equally it is fair to ask whether a 3D printer is necessary – although I understand it can “cook” as well!).  The following from MakerspacesAustralia addresses the arguments against makerspaces on the grounds of costs:

      “The beauty of Makerspaces, particularly in the library, is that there is no set list of tools, equipment or programming required. A 3D printer might be a great example of a Makerspace tool, but equally Makerspaces can be created around more low tech and low cost options such as conductive thread and play doh, or even simply duct tape.”

      In a strategic vision document produced by Queensland public libraries in partnership with State Library and Local Government Association it is stated that libraries are:

      • Creative community spaces
      • Connectors – physical and virtual
      • Technology trendsetters
      • Incubators of ideas, learning and innovation

      These four led me to think that if a library looks like a makerspace, walks like a makerspace, it probably is a makerspace.

      BCC events Image from Brisbane City Council Library webpage

      Hugh Rundle says: “It’s not enough anymore for information to be organised – it needs to be made available in new and meaningful ways. It needs to be communicated …”  This is why a makerspace culture is so important in a library’s arsenal as a makerspace is a new method of communication and really is only another program to add. It is already happening.

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    • #2107
      Caitlin .
      Participant

      Hi Sarah,

      I like your interpretations and definitions, in this way the sharing of information and networking is really what libraries have always done. A way of responding to the latest community interests by continuing a commitment to a community space and facilitator of information. I think the idea of maker space could be so broad that almost all libraries could create some kind of space. Whether is 3d printers and robotics or children s craft. Most of my plans for chair upholstering have a someday attached so perhaps an innovative library could implement a program where adults and children could build projects to together. A family built project would be fun, especially for those like me that have little time or skills. I like the idea of family built kites, or quilts, or something that could be treasured.

      Caitlin

      • #2186
        Sarah Ross
        Participant

        Hi Caitlin,

        I love the idea of having a someday attached to a future project – I have a lot of someday projects.

        The idea of a family built project is genius and by using a library makerspace environment it could be valuable for family time without the usual distractions (haha).

        Thanks, Sarah

    • #2111
      Saurav Khadka
      Participant

      Hi Sarah,

      A well written post and I totally agree to the point that makerspaces should be priority for all libraries. As said by Brit Morin, makerspace is found in various fields, and library is such a place where information related to everything is found, again ranging from food to crafts to technology! Moreover, with advancement of technology in today’s world library should be the very first one to act like a key information center, or a makerspace itself!

      • #2187
        Sarah Ross
        Participant

        Hi Saurav,

        Thanks for your comments.  I agree that a public library is a natural fit for the concept of makerspaces for many of the maker aspects.  My local library is such a vibrant place to visit in contrast to the libraries of my childhood – though if I hear “the wheels on the bus go round and round” one more time …

        Cheers, Sarah

    • #2156

      Hi Sarah,

      I like your quote from Queensland public libraries abut what libraries are. I think that clarifies for me that libraries have an official recognition as creative spaces. I like “Incubators of ideas, learning and innovation” as well. It seems to me there’s a lot of energy at the policy level and I wonder how that energy is filtered down into working libraries. I have no personal experience of working in libraries (yet!) so it’s difficult to guage.

      In any event I love the idea of makerspaces and libraries as creativity hubs – whether they have a 3D printer or not!

      Robynne

      • #2188
        Sarah Ross
        Participant

        Hi Robynne,

        I love the idea of makerspaces too.  I think they also fit well with another constant theme of public libraries – lifelong learning.  LL is not just about technology-based learning but about brain health plus I like the idea of using knowledge created/generated by many generations and backgrounds.

        Thanks, Sarah

         

    • #2229
      Deborah Fuller
      Participant

      This is an interesting argument for the validity of makerspaces in public libraries, which I totally agree with Sarah.  It also brought back memories of evening classes in England. I did pottery classes, for which I had little aptitude, but enjoyed doing and the act of making something felt like such an achievement.

      • #2298
        Sarah Ross
        Participant

        Sorry to take so long to respond to your comment – and thank you for it.  It is nice to know that someone else remembers evening classes – I tried a fair few over the years and thoroughly enjoyed “trying” things.

        Cheers, Sarah

         

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