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Making it in libraries today – part 1

Zinesters hard at work via Brokelyn
Should a movement built on creativity have a definitive construct and place? Is a makerspace bound by four walls and a 3D printer or is it present in the hearts and minds of a community?

I took a while to understand the point of adding makerspaces to libraries because I wasn’t connecting with the concept in any way. I think a lot of library staff would feel the same if a 3D printer suddenly materialised and people went mad for making monochrome plastic phone cases. 

So I’ve been exploring papers and posts and discovered that makerspaces didn’t originate in libraries 😉 Is it a hackerspace, makerspace, TechShop or FabLab?

Dale and MAKE Magazine registered makerspace.com and started using the term to refer to publicly-accessible places to design and create (often times in the context of creating spaces for children).’

I think the term ‘makerspace’ works well for its origins, but libraries are made for ‘maker culture’. Katie Behrens  article hit the money for me: Library as Incubator Project wants you to look at programming as collection development 
What if the information most needed by a patron is not recorded information, but rather information contained in someone else’s head?’

Our library service’s mission is to connect people with information, learning and lifestyle. Other library services may have a mission to connect people with books (or so it seems) which is perhaps why so many try to shout their relevance with ‘we’re more than just books!’ For me, books and the physical library building are just two parts of the library service. We know that people learn in different ways, and learning by doing also constitutes an information exchange. 

When libraries use the term ‘makerspace’ the focus for me is on the wrong part of this borrowed phrase. As public libraries move to providing ‘the tools to help patrons produce their own works of art or information and sometimes also collecting the results to share with other members of the community’  (A librarians’ guide to makerspaces: 16 resources by Elyssa Kroski) the emphasis is on people and making. When Slatter and Howard ask in their study ‘What are the issues and challenges of creating makerspaces within Australian public libraries?’, ‘within.. public libraries’ suggests to me activities in a space in a physical building.  My emphasis is more; ‘What are the issues and challenges of creating a maker culture in Australian public library services?’ 

It’s early early days, but something that can help is embedding maker culture in the Standards and Guidelines as we embed it in our library services. And we must make those connections for staff as well as for our community. 
Two great quotes that highlight the importance of instilling that culture of making: ‘Maker culture’ refers to the whole ethos and process of fiddling, tinkering, experimenting, failing, reworking, recycling, upcycling, hacking, and creating. Maker culture does not depend on a perfect setting or dedicated space. It’s a way of looking at the world, creatively testing the boundaries and playing with what you have. In the Library With a Lead Pipe

The future library will be about ‘delight, surprise, engagement, serendipity, curiosity, and to fulfil that vision we 
need to keep these things in mind: delighting, surprising and engaging with our community; providing       serendipitous discovery of knowledge and culture; and encouraging curiosity… Libraries will be measured more by what they create and help others to create, not so much what they collect.’ Mal Booth at UTS on Creative Futures


Do you picture a makerspace contained in a room, or do you see a shared culture in the hearts and minds of your people?




Local library makerspaces you should know about – Mill Park, Auckland, Moonee Ponds, Mackay, The Edge, Victoria Park …

Katie Behren’s post made the connection for me between library services and maker culture and Tania Barry alerted me to STEAM instead of STEM that all the 3D printer fans were raving about. In the next post I’ll explore the ‘A’ and why I’m posting about maker culture in a reading blog. 





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This entry was posted on December 12, 2013 by in collaboration, communities, digital story, literacy, maker culture, makerspaces, programs.
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