Thursday, May 15, 2014

What is the vision of tinkering at the library?

What will the public library look like in the near future?

As more and more people access information resources online, the role of the public library is growing and morphing into something beyond a collection of resources to be checked out, used and returned by the community. It is becoming a place where people learn new skills, access hard-to-find and/or expensive hardware and software, and meet up with fellow lifelong learners to stay fit, healthy, mentally alert and have fun!

The vision of the 21st century library is a place that is open all week long, all year around, and full of exciting activities and resources that the average citizen may be interested in but may not be comfortable investing in right away.

Because the library is open 6-7 days a week, it is the perfect place for the community to come together to learn and then practice newly acquired skills or find others with whom to share a passion or interest.

How is this different from a school or community center that offers classes? Simply because the library can offer the most precious resources of all: time and space to explore, tinker, practice, hone skills and meet people over the long term. A class in a college or community center takes a designated time period and then is over. The library is a place where people can return again and again to take instruction, get help, and work on long term projects.

For instance, one of our first initiatives for adults is the Digital Media Lab, to be located on the upper level of the Duxbury Free Library. We will be facilitating patron-driven digitization of family documents, oral history and new forms of multimedia presentations such as musical slide shows of family photos of major events. Storage? We will encourage people to save to a thumb-drive, upload to the Cloud, or create their own archival storage materials to which they can continually add.

Running a Code Camp for four weeks this summer will test drive the concept of helping teens and adults learn the basic principles of computer coding so that they can create their own web sites, games, etc.

Knitting groups, a monthly adult board game night, and a monthly crafting group are all initiatives that bring people together around a common interest. What's great about all of this is that expertise and professional guidance is NOT a requirement. Some of us have a basic knowledge, but mostly we will all be learning and playing and growing together.

Tinkering is about reaching beyond your comfort zone, exploring new media, material, concepts, and, with the encouragement of fellow "travelers," going to new places in your brain and experiencing the joy of acquiring new competencies. Tinkering, by definition, assumes that an initial failure is merely an opportunity for growth. Tweaking, digging deeper into a flawed initial outcome and finding an answer is how deep understanding is built. It demands greater concentration and a longer attention span. It requires a higher threshold of frustration. This is the scientific method and it can be applied in many venues to a variety of media.

The library is the place where the community comes together and where the individual can be transformed.

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