Monday, 9 December 2013

The maker movement

Whenever I speak to someone in the public library sector about including maker spaces in our services, I inevitably receive one of two responses.  The first is: "That's a great idea.  Why doesn't it surprise me?" The second is the much shorter: "Why?"  My first, short answer to that is "Why not?" :)

The longer answer?  Public libraries, to me, have always been about providing equitable access to information.  Traditionally this was through books (and one could argue that traditionally, books were all that were available) but now there are so many more mediums and platforms to provide this access.  Videos, DVDs, CDs, databases... we provide access to literacy programs, to computers, the internet...the list goes on.  We're providing access to things that some people may not have ready access to.  I put maker spaces in the same category.  They're a way to provide access to resources that have the potential to make significant changes in society.

I first read about the Fab Lab last year during a management workshop we had at work that was meant to challenge us to think outside the square.  There was an immediate connection for me. Libraries are places for people to connect, learn and get access!  Access to things I mentioned earlier, but also access to people.  In a maker space it's not necessarily the staff who are doing the 'showing' and the 'teaching'.  Members of the community who have this specialist knowledge can come in and share what they know.

This afternoon, a gentleman approached me about volunteering to help in our new maker space.  He has a degree in physics and a diploma of teaching.  He wants to share what he knows.  This is just one fabulous aspect of maker spaces....

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