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.

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