Reimagining the public library – a makerspace option

I missed the original article when it came out on Make: Is It Time to Rebuild & Retool Public Libraries and Make “TechShops” but have to say, this idea has me complately jazzed. I’ve often wondered how we could take our spaces and go from a place where people get access to information to getting access to tools so that they can become makers, people who can build things from scratch and not just have to take vendors and dealers’ words for what is possible. And of course this concept comes up against the same old issue “Freedom of the press is for those who own one” These tools, the tools to build tools, are often expensive, especially for one person to own. Maybe there’s a way we could share our tools and spaces…?

Fayetteville Free Library [NY] is taking steps to make that sort of thing happen in their space, an old building that used to be an old furniture factory. They have space, and some grant money, and a few people who really want to make it happen. I’m excited to see where this goes. I’ve always thought that the digital divide wasn’t just where everyone had access to broadband, or a computer, but where everyone had a social community space that was for learning about and using technology. The library is sort of that–it’s totally that in some places–but now the technology is changing. Free printers? How about a 3D printer?

9 Responses to “Reimagining the public library – a makerspace option”

  1. librarianone Says:

    How about no.

  2. Jen Says:

    Very cool. I was surprised, on a tour of some of the original Carnegie libraries in the Pittsburgh area, to learn that libraries there had a history/tradition of art workshops and showers and boxing rings and gyms — and love the idea of a makerspace. (some libraries already lend out tools, but this takes it even farther).

  3. rhonda Says:

    Awesome idea. I’d love to have a place to play with that kind of stuff. It’s all about broadening our horizons, lifelong learning.

  4. L1brar1an Says:

    It makes sense to me, libraries are already the technology centers of many communities as well as being the community printer for a lot of people. This just amps that role up a bit. Libraries are based on pooling resources and sharing so why not consider doing it on different scale. Not only can they be the “people’s university” they can also be the “people’s workshop”. The library-world talks about library not as a “pantry” but as a “kitchen” where patrons can create stuff. That is fine if you limit that metaphor to two dimensional words and the like but if truly want to embrace that analogy like food touches on all the senses, the workshop model might be the way to go to bring the products of the library truly into the physical world of their communities.

  5. Kate Says:

    Yes and yes and yes. I’ve been thinking about this in some permutation or other ever since becoming aware of the Berkeley Tool Lending Library. I already loan out devices at my school library and dream of offering more. I’m in your neighborhood (2 exits) if you ever want co-conspirators for something local.

  6. John Farrier Says:

    I’ll go where the market is. If this is a profitable model, let’s do it.

  7. jambina Says:

    i love this idea!
    our (michael-nate-char) “libraries as community publishers” panel at sxswi (http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/9273)is all about using the “maker” ethic and new technologies to help communities publish.

  8. calebtr Says:

    So do you agree with author Phillip Torrone’s premise that today’s libraries have little value, and our technologically-determined future has no place for them?

    While I think maker spaces are exciting, I can’t agree that everything a public library does is also done by the internet and we can just do that at home. This AND that, not this instead of that.

  9. jessamyn Says:

    Yeah I’m definitely more of a this AND that person myself. I think libraries as-is have value but the “space” part of public space and also using community money for tools and other things that are expensive for individuals to buy [copy machines?] makes a certin sort of sense.