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City Libraries Consider Future as 'Makerspaces'

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Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
2/28/2014 5:39:09 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: I like it
Hi Amy,

Thanks again for noting another makerspace in the area that I didn't know about in Arlington. I haven't read about any library charging a fee just for visiting a makerspace, but many libraries charge for the use of materials and classes.

Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
2/27/2014 9:34:46 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: I like it
Okay, Alan, I had to share another maker space article. Gosh, it was news to me when you mentioned the term just the other day, and now I see it everywhere!

TechShop Arlington (VA) is opening next month. So here is a purely commercial model for the maker space, though it appears they seek to price the spaces for use at competitive rates. People sewing dresses or building shelves generally lack CEO-type bank accounts, so this is nice to see. Again, using a library as a base location theoretically encourages more folks to participate since they are not paying a monthly or weekly fee as in this model. 

Naturally, the company got started in Menlo Park, CA. It looks like they are taking a franchise-like approach. 

 

 

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
2/26/2014 9:18:11 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: I like it
Hi Amy,

A friend has a breadmaker and it makes noises. But so does my friend.

Thanks for the links to those two sites. I didn't know about them.

I'm sure there are places in many cities where makerspaces could be established. But that still doesn't address the main question of whether they should be a standard feature of libraries. I'm still not sure, but keeping an open mind.

In the meantime, today I picked up the complete version of "House of Cards" (okay, so I'm slow to get around to it) and the movie "Europa Report" from the library. Yes, it's good the libraries offer DVDs to borrow. 

Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
2/25/2014 1:27:37 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: I like it
Breadmakers are terrific, though some of them make a repetitive wheezy noise as they work, so see if you can listen to one before you buy :-)

I thought of two other spaces, both in greater DC. One is an old converted prison, and the other an old warehouse that was once a printing plant and train station and is now a vintage furniture shop plus workspaces for artists and artisans and entrepreneurs. Again, neither started as a library, but I think it's cool to have an array of models to consider.

There must be comparable places in SF, NY, Seattle, Singapore, London...

 

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
2/22/2014 3:07:15 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: I like it
Hi Amy,

All I know about leather is that when I was growing up in New York, Mark Cross and Dunhill on Fifth Avenue had great leather wallets and Bally had butter-soft shoes. I let the professionals craft my stuff, and keep my hands out of the process! (That said, I have pondered getting a breadmaker, as long as I don't have to do much work.)

But enough about me.

I forgot about the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, which isn't too far from me huddling in the savage environs of Chevy Chase. I've gone there for years, wandering around the works that painters, sculptors, photographers, potters, jewelers, etc. have produced. It's great fun, useful for craftspeople and a benefit to the area. Thanks very mentioning it.

As I said, I'm not sure libraries should evolve to offer makerspaces, but I'm very open minded about that and look forward to seeing where it's going. The Martin Luther King Library in Washington, D.C. has a makerspace. And just a few days ago I spoke to a librarian at my local library (Bethesda), which sponsored a one-day makerspace last year and is planning another one. In fact, the librarian was planning the upcoming makerspace and wanted the URL to my article.

Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
2/21/2014 1:54:24 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: I like it
They tool leather, Alan. Or tan it (though that involved dangerous chemicals, so never mind).

Mixed-use spaces like the Torpedo Factory (where you can get married, buy crafts or take art lessons) seem to be a commercially driven equivalent to a library-centered makerspace. One is not better than the other, just different motives and means. 

What other public space could support such an endeavor? We could hardly convert City Hall into a makerspace. Subway stations are too hectic, public parks subject to weather. The more I think about it, the more I like the library as the starting point for such a movement. 

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
2/18/2014 10:39:20 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: I like it
Hi kq4ym (Don),

Yes, manufacturers could help subsidize the cost of equipment for library makerspaces. Grants also are available from private and public companies, as well as some government funds.

With libraries offering computers and WiFi, it's not too much of a leap to offer computer-based makerspaces with their 3D printers and computer-aided design software. But for most libraries, the cost is prohibitive. 

As I wrote, I'm not completely sure that makerspaces should be the "next big thing" for libraries. But I'm keeping an open mind. Perhaps if I were a do-it-yourself guy, I would be more excited by the prospect of building things!

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
2/18/2014 10:33:03 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: ebooks
Hi Pablo,

I'm glad you're happy with the Cambridge/Massachusetts e-book system. In suburban Washington, D.C., I've found the physical libraries to be fine, but as I noted, I can never find an e-book I wanted.

That's not a big problem for me because I buy 99 percent of the books I read. But it would be nice to be able to download a library book every once in a while, especially one that I'm not sure if I'd want to purchase. For example, a week or two ago, for the first time I put on hold a library e-book, the new book by Robin Cook, "The Cell." Do you know how many people were ahead of me in the queue? 40! I think I'm No. 38 now.

I have hundreds of books to read, mostly digital but also paper, but having to wait so long for a library e-book, when a virtual unlimited number of copiess could be available, is ridiculous.

Anoter reason I'd like to try library e-books is because they would be a lot "cleaner" than a library physical book that has passed through many (grubby) hands!

E-books are the future -- and the present -- and it should be a major priority for libraries to offer books and devices to patrons to help usher in the age of e-publications and familiarize people with the concept.

Many libraries in the U.S. are very good for offering computers, different types of classes, speakers and WiFi. I think makerspaces are an interesting idea, but I'm not absolutely positively sold that they should be the "next big thing" for libraries. However, I'm certainly willing to be convinced.

kq4ym
kq4ym  
2/15/2014 12:29:28 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: I like it
As pointed out it's an expensive proposition. Most likely the manufacturers would have to subsidize big time to get this plan into most libaries systems, expecially in less prosperous libraries around the country. With libaries now hosting lots of internet users, and that expense, I can't see a quck transition to "maker" facilities anytime soon, except for a limited amount of well funded or special interest subsidies.

Pablo Valerio
Pablo Valerio  
2/15/2014 5:47:48 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: ebooks
Alan, the publishers' restriction of 26 borrowings is correct. That was part of the agreement with Overdrive and Amazon.

I've been borrowing ebooks from the Minuteman library network (I have a Cambridge, MA library card) for Kindle and they have a very good selection. They buy several copies of popular books, although sometimes I need to wait a few weeks for a new title. I keep 3-5 books on my "hold" list and they email me when one is available.

Here in Barcelona they don't offer ebook rentals yet. The city has been investing heavily renovating and building new libraries. Most of them are very busy, and people go there to work and study, or just to read. They offer workshops, language exchange, conferences and many hold exhibitions.

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