Public Libraries + Hackerspaces. Brilliant. And yet another reason why public libraries—and public librarians—are an essential part of a free society, fostering the kind of innovative, productive, creative, healthy, expansive culture worth a good chest thump. Not only is it about leveling the playing field, making resources available for all, but also about nurturing the potential of the Next.
Libraries are reinventing themselves for a digital age, with a small but growing number looking to include hackerspaces (a.k.a. makerspaces), complete with 3-D printers. There is a certain poetry to it: As physical books transform into bits and bytes, information—computer files—become tangible objects, printed on a MakerBot.
NPR’s John Kalsh interviewed Fort Wayne, Indiana library Jeff Krull for his piece, "Libraries Make Room For High-Tech ‘Hackerspaces’":
We see the library as not being in the book business, but being in the learning business and the exploration business and the expand-your-mind business,” he says. “We feel this is really in that spirit, that we provide a resource to the community that individuals would not be able to have access to on their own.
Author, publisher, inventor, statesman and pretty much everybody’s favorite Founding Father, Ben Franklin, who helped found the very first public library in North America in 1731, would have been thrilled:
…(T)hese Libraries have improved the general Conversation of Americans, made the common Tradesman and Farmers as intelligent as most Gentlemen from other Countries, and perhaps have contributed in some Degree to the Stand so generally made throughout the Colonies in Defence of their Privileges.
No doubt if Franklin were alive today, he would add “maker” to his long list of accomplishments.
And now you can, too.
— J. A. Ginsburg / @TrackerNews
- Library to get a hackerspace / Cory Doctorow/ Boing Boing (with video)
- Fayetteville Free Library Fab Lab (website)
- ALA 2011: A Time of Big Change in the Big Easy / J.A. Ginsburg (page down for section on privatization of public libraries)
- Bar, Hack, Lab, Fix: The Genius of Play and the Power of Opportunity / J.A. Ginsburg / TrackerNews Editor’s Blog