3 November 2013

Makerspace reflection

During the week I read other MOOCers blog posts in advance of the weekend when I have time to actually engage with the lecture and recommended resources. I quite like having this ‘sneak preview’.
But now I have dipped in and out of several of the resources I recognise where @kiwilibrarian ‘s reference to learning how to butcher an animal in the library came from.

The reference is from Lane Wilkinson’s blog post Creation, Consumption , and the Library. I like the take on the rhetoric about library makerspaces in this post. Perhaps its a result of untempered persuasive technique to ensure some funding for innovations in this area. I think makerspaces are very interesting, exciting and innovative uses of library space. However, it does strike me that choosing a particular set of technology (be it for digital media creation, hog butchering, or woodwork) could be limiting for a community. Unless there is a particular interest that 80% of the population is seriously into, and that is not being met in some other way it’s important to have some flexibility.
Locally, we have a giant hardware story that has DIY sessions where people can book in quite cheaply to learn how to service their lawn mower, use power tools, install curtain fittings, or make a letterbox. We also have a craft-haberdashery store that runs similar programs for quilting, dress-making and handicrafts. So it does not make sense for our public libraries to compete in these areas where I live.
I can’t remember who (so let me know in the comments please), but someone else blogged about having different themes on days of the week. This idea of mixing it up is appealing. It could better match interests of a diverse community, and it offers the chance to connect people with local experts (who are not necessarily working in the library). Of course I think the days of the week and times of the day for various events need to be cycled as well to offer alternatives around working hours and school holidays.

A couple of ideas for learning/making events that are highly relevant for my local area.
  • snake identification, safety and first aid for snake bites would be a great event in early Spring – that’s when they start getting active around these parts. (I saw a 2m black beauty crossing the road yesterday. I hope it made it safely to the other side)
  • making an emergency plan for bush-fire and storm season – and learning how to use social media in emergencies (see the tips for the public sections) – I think this is highly relevant for libraries as this is teaching people how to source, manage and contribute information during emergencies. It should be easy to justify.

And a final thought:
In an academic setting the idea of a digital media makerspace is not something that would necessarily rest in the library space. Other partners in such an endeavour would be the IT department and the Teaching & Learning office, and would very much depend on what kinds of software and hardware were available in the standard operating environment for staff computers and student-use computers in both the library and in computer labs.

UPDATE 2.00pm. It was @megingle who wrote about the themes for different days of the week.