Saturday, September 21, 2013

3D Printing finally makes an appearance at the Duxbury Free Library

Today, Kevin Osborn, Maker Extraordinaire, and his trusty 15 year old side kick, Max Tepermeister, came to explain the history and practical uses for 3D printers. In true Duxbury fashion, we had an audience who feels we should jump right into this technology and make it available to the patrons of the library, tout suite!

With two printers cranking out layers of melted filament, Kevin and Max gave us an inside look at the uses and creativity that 3D printing can inspire. The uses range from replacement human jaws to replacement parts in old cars and machinery to unique artistic creations in plastic, metal and ceramic. Who knew you could create in all these media in the 3D printing world?

Max MADE his 3D printer from scratch and tweaked it all summer long (did I mention that he's 15 and in the 10th grade?) and he was cranking out the pieces to this really cool interlocking spiral gear that looked kinda like the cross-section of an ammonite.... but I digress....

Patrons themselves are prompting the discussion on how the library might evolve into a Tinkering, Making, Creating Laboratory! This group will be just the people who can provide support, outreach and encouragement of our Makerspace transformation.

The afternoon was spent talking about movement activated Halloween lawn displays, Arduino and Raspberry Pi devices home-built to terrify and spook unwitting trick-or-treaters.  We built Larsen scanners for putting into Jack-o-Lanterns, (or cyclon heads depending on your sculpting skills). The soldering was tricky, mostly because we were using non-lead solder, which has to be heated up hotter than lead and is harder to direct on the board. Jessica and I are going to experiment with the two different types and do some reading on the lead dangers to see if there is a reasonable, non-poisonous trade off...

Reprap:'s own blog is here:

Get digital designs here:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Circuits can be simplified... enter Little Bits.

Cardboard kitties do cool stuff with Little Bits
I just borrowed a set of Little Bits from the Children's Room tonight to try them out in the hope that we can get some quick traction in electronics without relying on an "expert" or a ringer. Success!

Check out the wonderful TED talk by Little Bits creator, MIT Media Lab alum, Canadian of Lebanese Arab background, Ayah Bdeir(she got a B.A. from the American University of Beirut before she got her M.A. at the MIT Media Lab). This is a quintessential example of the global brain trust. Plus, she doesn't quite look like the stereotypical engineer...
Ayah Bdeir
Little bits are pre-assembled circuits, held together by magnets, color-coded to make the relationship between Power, Input, Wire, Output. It's that simple, but that's what gives it so much power. It teaches the relationship between components from the get-go.

I'm excited to challenge the teens tomorrow with some building schematics. then, when they figure out how the system works, they can get right down to creating some cool projects!

Just to put icing on the cake, she has registered Little Bits in the Creative Commons, so it is actually considered Open Source.  Now that's cool. Shazam.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Makerspace vs. Adult Ed. Classes
The Case for Libraries as Makerspaces
Although there is a big educational component to the Makerspace Movement, setting up a Makerspace in your library should not be limited to simply finding people to give one-shot lectures or courses. We've been a venue for lectures for decades. Why not just leave classes on topics of interest to the evening classes at the high school or senior center?

The answer is that we are using instructional classes and drop-in help with trouble-shooting as a stepping stone towards an ultimate goal of creating a space where people have the skills, tools, resources both human and physical, and TIME to experiment, explore, and create something new.

The intellectual impetus around Makerspace is the goal of unleashing people's creative juices and making something new that isn't a kit, isn't on a crib sheet, hasn't been thought of yet.

Librarians are exactly the right people to cultivate this movement because we are experts at finding resources, thinking "outside-the-box," putting people together with what they need. We don't need to be the experts ourselves, although that frequently happens, too. We knew the community and can bring people together. We can provide the space - both physically and intellectually - for connections to be made, dreams to be nourished, thoughts to be formulated and tweaked.

Libraries are no longer limited to print collections, though that is still part of our toolkit. Libraries are safe, neutral places in the community where the clientele are not generationally fragmented (schools, senior center), class and income do not matter (libraries are free), religion and ethnicity are interesting but not the point (churches and clubs). As long as you act in a responsible manner and show an interest you can participate in a library activity.

Makers need space, tools, experts, and time. Exploring outside your comfort zone - soldering an electrical circuit, sewing on a button, writing a blog, recording a conversation - is part of what makes a Makerspace special.
The library of tomorrow should be the place where this is possible.