Blog every day of June – Evolving spaces: Makerspaces

Today I attended this great seminar at the State Library of Victoria.  Here are my notes.

Jo Watson – State Library of Victoria

Spoke on her recent study tour.

Makerspaces are about sharing materials, learning new skills, community partnerships and more. Libraries have been involved in creative purposes for a long time, the difference is that it now has a name.

Aarhus Library has budget for innovation, opportunity to take risks, some worked, some didn’t. She attended the Maker Faire which brought diverse elements of the community together to explore.

It is more about the culture, not about the space.

Space to make: setting a context – Andrew Hiskens

Road map or treasure map, there is a lot of uncharted territory. There is no roadmap for the future, but we can have tools to help us find the way.

“Most things look better in circles”. Makerspaces exist in the overlap of learning, creativity, technology and culture and libraries are ideally placed to be the host.

Martin Westall on workplace creativity. Don’t articulate the task, don’t exemplify, don’t extrinsic ally motivate, don’t maintain focus, don’t reduce interruptions, don’t give feedback, don’t encourage self evaluation.  By keeping clear of the process, it frees from goals and control and encourages creativity. Seems counter intuitive, but helpful in explaining what this is all about.

Informal learning is never organised, but can be, with objectives that create an environment where people don’t necessarily intend or aim to learn. We want people to experience.

Best learning experiences are active, with others, achieving, involves a guide, challenging, has an audience, achieved early, includes a sense of others progress, some passion and a little eccentricity.

Gartner hype chart

Gartner hype chart

Gartner Hype chart. It’s helpful to frame your thinking on where these technologies are.

Disruptive innovation – Clayton Christensen. Insert disruptive technology graph with time and performance on the x and y axes.

Clay Shirky – Cognitive Surplus – we are returning to the 19th century and earlier where creation was done for yourself, not delivered by mass media.

Mastery is about hanging out, messing about, geeking out.

Disruptive technology

Disruptive technology

Value propositions for the public:

  • Access to technology they can’t yet afford – which is a traditional library role
  • Learning and growing informally
  • Individual and social experience
  • Mastery process
  • What it says about me and about us.

Value propositions for libraries:

  • Can learn and grow with your community,
  • Playing and experimenting with our role
  • Embracing change and being see to be doing so.

For stakeholders and funders:

  • Having a focus on the future
  • Future skills for community
  • It’s cool
  • Embracing change.

Something you begin to feel in your hands and learn in your mind.

Evolution of the Makerspace – Michelle Collins  and Andrew Pocock – Shared Leadership Program

What is it – a place for community to come together for informal, social learning characterised by hands-on experimentation, innovation, tinkering, play and a strong DIY ethos.

Where did it begin? Has been around for a long time. German hackers inspired US hackers to start the maker movement.  Have lots of different names and are run by community groups and other organisations.

“I think if anyone is positioned to help build workers for this new Information Age, it is the library.”  Corrinne Hill.

“People who say that it’s dumb to turn libraries into book-lined Internet cafes are right … Damn right libraries shouldn’t be book-lined Internet cafes. They should be book-lined, computer-filled information-dojos where communities come together to teach each other black-belt information literacy, where initiates work alongside novitiates to show them how to master the tools of the networked age from the bare metal up.” Cory Doctorow.

Fayetteville Fab Lab was the first public library to create such a space. Changing the role of users from consumers to creators. Three spaces, focused on fabrication, digital creation and little makers.

Adelaide City Library have introduced a Fab Lab. Includes an innovation lab, digital lab and media lab. Makerspaces can also be found at Library at the Dock and Mackay Makerspace in Queensland.

Chattanooga Library – Brian Resnick says it is the library of the future. (Library Journal article)

Useful resource, Library as Incubator project. Creative collaboration between artists and libraries and although US based, has contributions from all over the world. Eg. Spine poetry.

They have created a toolkit to help libraries to create a Makerspace. Will be available later in June through Libraries Victoria.

Makerspaces in Australian public libraries – Zaana Howard – Huddle Design

Presentation based on paper produced by one of her students last year, very different landscape now.

Question was what are the issues and challenges in creating Makerspaces in Australian public libraries. Only three case studies could be find and study conducted through interviews.

Putting community needs up front – future proofing libraries by involving users in creation and use of the space. By aligning needs, it makes the library a destination of choice.

Engaging the community in new ways. Although not a new concept, Makerspaces encourage the library as third place. It encourages the connection of people from the community in a more exciting way than has occurred traditionally. It enables new connections in new ways, eg. Retired engineers and students.

Access to shiny things which enables new learning opportunities for people.  Gives people the opportunity to tinker and learn informally. Benefit in educating the community before it becomes mainstream.

However, Makerspaces are not easy to set up. It is uncharted territory, new adventures, new things to learn. Can be difficult to change the culture of library stakeholders, staff and users. Staff training, rules of the space, legal implications are all big challenges.

Funding and budgets were achieved from a seed funding, partnerships, donations and using volunteers. Ensuring the right type of tech for your computer and the right balance of technology, particularly when it is changing so fast.

Copyright and other legalities, who owns what and other grey areas. There are many gaps in the law and more is untested.

Strategies included forging partnerships with educational institutions and local hacker spaces to make connections with the community. Value exchanges were very important.

Necessity of advocacy, being able to communicate the value proposition, to all levels, from funders to staff to the community.

Creating a blueprint for success – it’s not enough to just make something, but to share what they have learnt, their processes and procedures with all who are interested.

All participants were focused on the needs of their community, their libraries and the LIS industry.

To ensure success co- create services and spaces with your community. If they don’t need it, don’t make it.  Embrace opportunity for change, involve your staff, advocate for your users.  Tactics, create allies across the library, communicate well across the organisation and to the wider community and stakeholders. Re-purpose, something we are good at.  Mobilise people and get strategic – leverage support from upper management and the community.

Kathryn Hayter – SLQ – Key principles used to develop and manage a successful Makerspace

The Edge is a separate space next door to SLQ, which has both advantages and disadvantages. Have window bays for study and meetings. Have labs with 130 workshops a year, but are open access to other time. Have fabrication and a recording studio which is very popular. Have an auditorium which is a community space, but also programmable. Also have rooftop space for outdoor events.

It’s for, with and by our communities. Makerspaces are about the ‘by’.

390,000 visitors, 1700 programs with 40,000 attendees in 4 years. Began as youth space although not exclusive, but demographic is now older. Community is making the space on an ongoing basis and many past participants are now program facilitators. Audience is now 20 – 49 years. Visitors are mainly male, but program attendance is mainly female. Also run programs outside the space.

Run 40 programs a month and all book out quickly. Run across art, science, technology and enterprise. Programs include bio-tech fashion design, building and configuring computers and they have run these programs out in the community as well, using donated computers. They now have their own basic robotics kits which users can create program and race.

Have several 3D printer projects – they use corn starch for their print material. Programs include building your own 3D printrt, slime mold racing and build a DIY arcade game which begins with a kit and incorporates carpentry, programming and graphic design.

Edge team of 20, with different expertise, need passion resilience and diversity/ Their programs are based on what’s in it for the community,  who are we doing it for, welcome everyone, make it scalable, develop the audience, be responsive, expect change, be diverse and interdisciplinary. Set the space free.  It can be low tech or high tech. (Or no tech).

Set up was from library budget but now has to actively raise some of their own funding. Get sponsorship and partnerships, use collaborations and find grants.

Best feedback was from users whose lives have been changed.

Panel – Why is creativity coming in vogue? – big need for me to we – face to face. Wanting to find ‘my people’.  Also going back to me but using this to establish self identity.

Community consultation Is workshops and working with library staff to help design something that the community wants and that works for the library. Also get feedback from groups that are already in the community about local needs and with their partners and from direct interaction with current users. Find out community perceived barriers and deal with them.

Community partnerships, collaboration and creation – David Chanter – Connected Community HackerSpace

This HackerSpace is owned and run by the members of which there are 100.

HackerSpace is a space for like minded people to gather and learn from one another. Terminology was founded in Germany in 1981.

How they operate. Staffed by volunteers, including the committee, owned by their members. They empower every individual and aim to meet their needs. They are Incorporated in Victoria and have a governing committee as required by law. Simplicity is key, but they have some structure to control the chaos.  Financially they operate like. Gym, paying a monthly subscription. Have partnered with industry and get off cuts from them that they can reuse. Their operational expenditure is $25,000 per year. They need 40 members to sustain, but have 100.

Celebrating accomplishments within the community is key. Members are now customers but owners, they don’t pay to get, but pay to contribute. Have either donated or self built equipment.  Also perseverance is vital.  It’s greatest success is people.

Recommendations to libraries:

  • Read your community and have a feedback loop, ensuring that you’re adapting to community need as it changes.
  • Partner with everyone in sight – find those that want to use your real estate. Places to tinker and make a space are at a premium. Focus on a night for your efforts (not Tues).
  • Connect with other organisations in this space eg. Hackerspaces.

Not just a pretty space – Christ McKenzie and Felicity Gilbert – Yarra Plenty

Has learnt that technology is boring, users don’t care about the what, but want the why. What can the functionality achieve for them and what they want to achieve or will meet their need.

Use tapered off after the initial Makerspace launch. Why was it underused? Users didn’t know it was there, they didn’t know how to use the technology, and staff were unfamiliar and unable to demonstrate it.

Without context, technology is boring, so they moved to make meaning with it. Started with researching their community and also looked at the individual interest and experiences of library staff.

They have added extra resources, including a 3D scanner, Arduino starter kits, Lego Mindstorm kits, Spark Fun Inventors kits for Android, Creative Sketch and Touch tablet.

They recognised that the space needed to be open and inviting, but with closed spaces for focus. So they are getting appropriate furniture to provide this functionality and give direction as needed.

They are running programming events in the space, not all directly involved with the equipment there, to help cross promote.

Rorchestra program to run in library and in schools, for years 5 to 8. Kids create instruments from recycled material and record their sounds using their Makey boards.  The program will run regularly in the library, but also resulted in the creation of a kit which can be borrowed by local teachers.

It is the realisation of what technology can do, it’s what it can produce that excites.

Came to realise that it was more of a pop up space, rather than a full on space, but staff are enthusiastic and have come up with a strategy. The new furniture will help, but making it more program driven, add more equipment and hold new and different programming.

It’s definitely a great way to go, but doesn’t need to be over-thought and over planned. They create a real buzz and their space will morph into more stable space with opportunities and programming. They are enthused enough to put Makerspaces into other branches, but maybe with different foci, eg. Craft, writing and publishing and more.

Meeting future prominent trends – Debra Rosenfeldt – SLV

Victorian Public Libraries 2030 report was finalised in June 2013.  About predicting how public libraries can remain relevant for the next 15 or so years.  Has received much kudos from around the world.

Wanted to produce framework that could be used by any library, large or small. Involved over 80 stakeholders including library staff, including interviews, workshops on future scenarios, transitioning to the future and impact on public libraries analysis and finishing with a framework planning workshop.

It focuses around:

  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Brain health
  • Dynamic learning
  • Community connection

Two scenarios were developed as a result, the community and creative scenario of life in Victoria in 2030.

Opportunities for public libraries, include becoming shared learning hubs, creativity hub, community’s brain gymnasium, community learning, meeting place for people to gather, share and learn.



    • Ozge on June 6, 2014 at 10:39 am

    You are absolutely the queen of note taking! Thank you for sharing it.
    I got in touch with David Chanter from HackerSpace and will be going in for a visit later in the month. Very excited to see it all in action.

  1. Thanks Ozge and have fun with the visit. I have been and its an amazing space.

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