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Education Technology

Public Libraries Tinker With Offering Makerspaces 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-and-read dept.
eggboard writes "Public libraries are starting to build labs that let patrons experiment with new arts, crafts, and sciences, many of them associated with the maker movement. It's a way to bring this technology and training to those without the money or time to join makerspaces or buy gear themselves. It extends the mission of libraries to educate, inform, and enrich. Many are now experimenting with experimenting."
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Public Libraries Tinker With Offering Makerspaces

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  • In general, 3D printers are kind of like film editing equipment. Some places have those, the main thing is that you cover the cost of the inputs.

    Now, if you could do a 3D pop up graphics novel that you "printed" that would be super cool.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I work for a large University library, and that is basically what we are turning into. We have some specialized collections, but generally now just buy online access to databases for our students and faculty. Something like 40% of our books are being moved to Aux Storage that can be retrieved if requests, but it has little use. However, we do have several 3d printers, study areas that have resources otherwise unavailable or too costly to the average student, and are toying with more space for specific "fix

      • And what will replace it? I'm sure this has been asked before but I don't know the answer. Library literally means a collection of books—static, physically recorded information—the kind of thing future libraries are least likely to collect. It's quite a transformation. Library is coming to mean a gathering/making place of things drawn dynamically from elsewhere.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Same AC as above....I'm not sure the books will entirely go away. We have a digital imaging department as well, and they are backlogged for the next 50 years at the rate it takes to properly do it. Not to mention the formatting and storage options is changed every 5 years. One thing physical books will always have is a set format. If you can hold it and know the language, and can read, you're set. With ebooks, what format? Do I have the DRM "rights" to that knowledge in the book? Is my ipad up to date for

        • And what will replace it?

          Umm ... the Internet?

          Library is coming to mean a gathering/making place of things drawn dynamically from elsewhere.

          Sounds good to me.

          • by Sentrion (964745)

            The Republican term for "library" is "Communist bookstore". After the bearded hackers and makers start showing up I'm sure they'll start calling libraries the "urban commune and homeless shelter".

            • That's funny. You're poking fun at me, and still I find it funny.

              Of course, in reality Republicans say "teach a man to fish, you've fed him for a lifetime" as opposed to Democrat proposals to "give a man a fish, to feed him for a day". So libraries are exactly the kind of thing conservatives prefer. The Democrat version of a library is to mail out books to anyone making under $30K, after spending $8 trillion to translate all books into every known language. Libraries are unacceptable because most of the b

              • Actually the democrat view is "Give a man a fish so his kids don't starve to death while he learns to fish."

                • We're getting way off topic, but Ds have for decades generally opposed any kind of "welfare to work" or job training requirements for receiving public funds. Clinton did sign the bill that republicans passed in 1996, but since then Obama has been undoing it, removing or relaxing the requirement to eventually get job training or start working in order to continue to receive handouts.

                  So based on their record, what democrats have been doing since at least the days of Reagan, the Democrat view has been more "k

        • And what will replace it? I'm sure this has been asked before but I don't know the answer. Library literally means a collection of books—static, physically recorded information—the kind of thing future libraries are least likely to collect. It's quite a transformation. Library is coming to mean a gathering/making place of things drawn dynamically from elsewhere.

          It may mean literally a collection of books, but it didn't stay that way very long, I'm sure. Libraries in the real world are typically collections of cultural resources, and while books may be what they're most famous for, that's not all you'll usually find there. At one time at least, our local system allowed you to check out paintings and other forms of art. I've checked out more than a few audio recordings in various media. More recently, the local branch has a pretty nice collection of movies and TV sh

          • by i.r.id10t (595143)

            typically collections of cultural resources

            I'd change this to "cultural and educational resources", and add in places for social gathering - how many childhood friendships started out as 2 mommies taking their kids to reading circle time at the local library? Quite a few, and I know that I still had social contact with some of my reading@thelib times through highschool even though we never attended the same schools.

  • Just wondering. I need a work space to do one of those "80 percent lower" kits.

    • Dude, you can get a drill press for, like, 50 bucks at Harbor Freight.

      • If you live in an apartment or condo, where are you going to put that drill press?
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          If you live in an apartment or condo, where are you going to put that drill press?

          Even a relatively fancy (say, 19") drill press will fit in a pretty small amount of floor space, equivalent to a small bookshelf. I know, because I have a 19" craftsman with a 5/8" chuck that I picked up at a yard sale for only twice as much as a new harbor freight 4" tabletop unit. Which, by the way, you can probably store under a desk or in the back of a closet.

    • Usually no, but libraries aren't most hackerspaces, so who knows.

  • Ridiculous. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao (908546)

    Is it me or is the maker movement based around a bunch of hispters patting themselves on the back for doing stuff humans have been doing for eons? They'll spam everyone about a crappy iPhone holder but wouldn't be able to switch out a faulty light switch in their own apartment.

    Outside of making 3D printers accessible I'm not sure how libraries could feasibly offer workshops. People don't only work in plastic, and presently 3D printing is a novelty for your average person.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Is it me or is the maker movement based around a bunch of hispters patting themselves on the back for doing stuff humans have been doing for eons?

      No.

      For the first time, makers (prototype makers/modelers in my day when we did this in the snow - uphill - both ways!) don't have to use milling machines, lathes, foundries , molding machines and other assorted equipment to get forms they need. No machine shop access required.

      A couple of thousand dollars for a 3D printer or free replaces hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment - and specific skills and training.

      Machine shop skills are a time consuming skill and when you're keeping up with other techn

      • A couple of thousand dollars for a 3D printer or free replaces hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment - and specific skills and training.

        Bingo! I remember a quote about the Video Toaster appliance that was popular back in the late 1980's:

        "It's like getting a Mercedes Benz for $100".

    • Is it me or is the maker

      It's just you, but it is really fun to be disparaging about people who are good at making stuff because we're still at high school.

      • Re:Ridiculous. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:24PM (#46085221) Homepage Journal

        He has a point.

        From reading TFA, it's obvious that this isn't a group of skilled craftspeople coming together to share ideas, equipment, and workspace, but rather an attempt to educate the proles in how this new technology can be used to make Christmas ornaments. More like "Summer College" classes for your 6th grader than a real attempt at collaboration.

        The downside to this approach, at least from my point of view, is that the people who would use the equipment access to work on real projects are going to be stuck waiting in line behind 1,000 stay-at-home moms, who are laser-cutting snowflakes with their kids faces on them because they have nothing more productive to do with their time.

        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          He has a point.

          From reading TFA, it's obvious that this isn't a group of skilled craftspeople coming together to share ideas, equipment, and workspace, but rather an attempt to educate the proles in how this new technology can be used to make Christmas ornaments. More like "Summer College" classes for your 6th grader than a real attempt at collaboration.

          The downside to this approach, at least from my point of view, is that the people who would use the equipment access to work on real projects are going to be stuck waiting in line behind 1,000 stay-at-home moms, who are laser-cutting snowflakes with their kids faces on them because they have nothing more productive to do with their time.

          Might I suggest that if you have a "real" project, maybe you should be getting your own equipment instead of tying up public infrastructure which is specifically designed and intended to be accessible by people who aren't already skilled craftspeople. Because everyone who is now a skilled craftsperson wasn't at one point, and the only way to become skilled is by practice (and that is kinda the point behind this initiative).

          Your complaint sounds vaguely like a Ferrari owner complaining they can't go 150mph

          • Might I suggest that if you have a "real" project, maybe you should be getting your own equipment instead of tying up public infrastructure which is specifically designed and intended to be accessible by people who aren't already skilled craftspeople.

            Having skill and being able to afford thousands of dollars in equipment are two very, very different horses, you know. Yea, I've built some amazing shit with hand tools, because that's all I can afford - just think what I could do if I had access to a CNC mill, or laser cutter, or 3D printer, or something else I can't afford and have no space for.

            Your complaint sounds vaguely like a Ferrari owner complaining they can't go 150mph on public freeways.

            Only if you suck at analogies. And understanding.

          • by Sentrion (964745)

            I think there is still a fear among industrialists, and those believe their economic well being is dependent on the profitability of industrialist, that 3D printing will eat into the spare parts business (where a single component of a 10-20 component product can cost more than 50% of the retail price of a replacement product), and possibly also those businesses that thrive by charging consumers $100 or more for a product that is nothing more than a small collection of lose parts manually connected together

        • by Ichijo (607641)

          The downside to this approach...is that the people who would use the equipment access to work on real projects are going to be stuck waiting in line behind 1,000 stay-at-home moms...

          Maybe they should auction off some of the timeslots to use the equipment. The other timeslots would be free, either a waiting list or a lottery. Everyone who can afford a timeslot would get one quickly, and everyone who can't afford one would just wait their turn. Nobody would be overcharged because it's an auction, the equipme

          • The downside to this approach...is that the people who would use the equipment access to work on real projects are going to be stuck waiting in line behind 1,000 stay-at-home moms...

            Maybe they should auction off some of the timeslots to use the equipment. The other timeslots would be free, either a waiting list or a lottery. Everyone who can afford a timeslot would get one quickly, and everyone who can't afford one would just wait their turn. Nobody would be overcharged because it's an auction, the equipment would never go idle unless nobody wants to use it, more people would get to use the equipment because everybody will always be in a hurry to finish up before the end of their timeslot, and taxpayers won't have to foot the whole bill for the equipment.

            Plus, nobody's going to bid the timeslots up too high, since at a certain price point there's no reason to use the public facility - if you can afford $250 for an hour on the library's equipment, chances are you can afford to buy your own equipment outright.

            Everybody wins when we get out of the mindset that everything at public libraries must be free all of the time.

            I agree, seems reasonable. Thus, there has to be a stupid, probably bureaucratic reason it won't work.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      A workshop where you can learn woodworking, metalworking, etc. would be WAY more useful, but I guess those aren't hip enough. Back when my dad was in the army, they had a woodworking shop on post and he ended up making some of the most beautiful furniture (having learned how to do it from classes there). Our family still treasurers it today.

      I would much rather learn to use a lathe or welding equipment than a 3D printer. But it's sort of like I was a kid. Karate studios on every corner, but not a single plac

      • I would much rather learn to use a lathe or welding equipment than a 3D printer. But it's sort of like I was a kid. Karate studios on every corner, but not a single place where I could learn to box.

        Hence my feeling that pop culture is a plague upon the human race.

        Sweep the leg.

    • Outside of making 3D printers accessible I'm not sure how libraries could feasibly offer workshops. People don't only work in plastic, and presently 3D printing is a novelty for your average person.

      With the Chicago library's lab, they offer various workshops on some small example projects (e.g. a 3D printed trinket or a laser cut greeting card) to expose people to the basic process and offer open lab hours. You can look at the schedule here [chipublib.org]. I'm not sure where you see a problem with the feasibility of this.

      3D printing is to a large extent still in the novelty phase, but as it gains in popularity so will the practical applications. I have a broken plastic component of a relay in a 70s era pinball

    • Is it me or is the maker movement based around a bunch of hispters patting themselves on the back for doing stuff humans have been doing for eons?

      It is just you. I am a member of Techshop [wikipedia.org], and I see fellow members making incredibly innovative stuff that would have been impossible for an individual to make even a decade ago. It is not just 3D printing, but also precision laser cutting, desktop CNC machining, sensors, and cheap/free off-the-shelf software that do computer vision, voice recognition, can compensate for flexing components, etc. From the outside you see "hipsters". From the inside, I see the beginning of a world changing revolution.

      • by Sentrion (964745)

        Not to mention the value of being able to ask someone in the group for help. There are a lot of software geeks and hardware geeks who would love to build a robot - just for the fun of it - but often lack enough skill in either the software or the hardware to be successful. Working together they can both accomplish their own unique goals more effectively. Combined with community gardens, open source software projects, shared work spaces (co-working), peer-to-peer communications, peer-to-peer lending, Wiki

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      I was talking with my parents about what it was like growing up in rural America in the 1930s and 1940s. One of the things they said had changed a lot was how much they used to make for themselves, compared to today: made their own clothes, baked their own bread, everyone had a garden and canned their own vegetables, and so on.

      Later generations have bought increasingly more stuff ready-made. When my kids go to college they will probably not even know how to cook unless they make a concerted effort to learn

    • Both of those are discrete skills. We all cant know it all. I know tons of programmers that know fuck-all about real hardware. I hand built a bunch of comps for my CS classmates in college. The university sold 3COM 905Bs and these idiots were using 56k modems across the university switchboard because they were afraid to crack the case.
  • by mendax (114116) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:53PM (#46084879)

    This kind of thing has happened before. The ancient Library of Alexandria [wikipedia.org] was much more than a library. It was a government -funded research facility and think tank where many of the greatest minds of the ancient world worked. Granted that it was not a public library like those found in ancient Rome, it's not a surprise at all that public libraries would try to enter this space in at least some form.

  • by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:55PM (#46084903) Homepage Journal
    I have lots of wonderful weird old books from around WWII. It seems that in that era community centres (or centers) had equipped workshops for citizens to drop by and do some woodworking, or repair electrical appliances. After some reflection, I realized this is not compatible with the social model of consuming to keep the economy growing. But it would be nice to have a Mr Fixit type person running a shop for every x number of citizens in an area would can not only run 3D printers, but all the other stuff we seem to have lost in the last half century or so.
    • The sad part is, a lot of the stuff our 'throwaway society' dumps is perfectly repairable.

      For example, the boss of a call center I once worked for (as the system admin) wanted me to take a 60" Visio television to the dump, because the screen stopped turning on. Instead of trashing it, I took it home, disassembled it, found the chip that had burned out, and replaced it; I managed to, for less than $10, fix a device that cost the company several hundred dollars to replace.

      It boggles the mind.

      • How many hours (total, including disassembly, research, ordering the chip, repairing, and reassembly) did you spend from pickup to repaired an working?

        • How many hours (total, including disassembly, research, ordering the chip, repairing, and reassembly) did you spend from pickup to repaired an working?

          Maybe 2-3? It was pretty obvious what the issue was once I got the big bastard apart.

          Even at $50/hr, it still would have been a quarter the full replacement cost of a brand new 60" HDTV in 2009.

          • You missed the point. Overzeetops time is money, son! Wasting it to fix a t.v. is unacceptable - cuts into /. time.
          • That's the issue. I'm all for fixing stuff, too, but to make a living off it - or just break even is hard. And $50 is a very low billable number, $80-100 is closer to most tech time in "low paying" professions. Copier repair is $300 for the first 1/2 hour and (iirc) $150/hr in 1/2 hour increments after that.

            Maybe a 100% sales tax funneled into local maker houses would spur us away from our disposable society.

          • by u38cg (607297)
            On this occasion. The question, though, is what is the joint distribution of repair times and parts costs?
          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Even so, it's borderline for a business to bother with repair. Say there was a 50% chance of being able to fix it, which these days is probably a bit optimistic because often you can't get replacement custom chips or easily trace faults in LSI parts. They still have to pay someone to look at it to determine it can't be fixed. Even if it is fixed how long will it stay that way? How much will they save due to a newer model using less power?

            Go take a look on YouTube at videos of knowledgeable people who docume

      • Part of the problem is that people don't have the time or knowledge to fix complex electronics themselves. To give an example I'm facing, my HP G60 laptop has a glitching screen. If you don't position the screen "just so" the image flickers erratically to the point that you can't read what's on the screen. To the average user, this would be a "the laptop is dead, buy a new one" moment. I, knowing quite a bit more about computers than the average user, was able to isolate that the problem is likely the v

        • by TWiTfan (2887093)

          This era of lead-free solder further complicates things. It can be a real bitch to do even a basic solder/un-solder job on modern equipment. A lot of modern equipment just isn't even made to be repaired.

          • This era of lead-free solder further complicates things. It can be a real bitch to do even a basic solder/un-solder job on modern equipment. A lot of modern equipment just isn't even made to be repaired.

            It can, but on the other hand, some people might be surprised how easy it is to find, say, complete television logic boards in working condition. Ebay is a good resource, lots of "busted screen but otherwise functional" stuff out there. Just gotta know where to look.

            Side note: Why does my mind always read that as "led" free, when you so obviously mean "leed" free? We've had lead-free solder for decades, Brain, get with it!

        • If you're concerned about damaging the screen during dis-/re-assembly, you may want to buy a whole screen assembly.

          FYI, that thing (HP G60) has a damn expensive screen - most of the replacements I put in cost between $50-80, but looking at laptopscreens.com, it appears yours would cost a few hundred bucks for a stock replacement*. Depending on the age of the laptop (by which I mean it's obsolecense) you may indeed be wise to just buy a new one.

          * Of course, if you can live with a slightly smaller screen (15.

  • by number17 (952777) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:17PM (#46085131)
    Its how the Library system stays relevant. They would like to be a hub for community engagement and sharing of information.

    The Toronto Public Library does this by letting you "try out the latest technology by participating in classes, workshops, and meetups." at their Digital Information Hubs [torontopubliclibrary.ca]
  • I think it's great - 3d Printers, hands on "toys" for kids that help them learn electronics, computers to learn programming, 3d modeling, and other skills. Its really bringing people back into the libraries.

  • Certain air force bases had a garage with tools where airmen could bring their beater cars and fix them up. There was generally some volunteer car mechanic there from the motor pool pitching in to help.

    Now I don't think they have this anymore, mostly due to liability.

    It is a shame that communities can't have things like this anymore. It was a great place to meet new people and learn from fellow tinkerers. Now our "communities" are anything but - in the U.S. we're a nation of individuals behind their 6 ft. fence, never interacting with our neighbors, precisely because there are vanishing few places where we can meet on common ground.
    • The AF may not, but the Army does. Theirs are really well equipped too(as of just a couple years ago), the one I used to work on my car in had nice lifts, paint shops, experienced mechanics(professional), great tools, and lots of other perks. They had 40 bays and it was hard to get in to one because people were always in there doing things from just changing their oil to in my friend's case welding a truck frame back together after it cracked. Right next store was a wood working shop that was really well eq
    • Certain air force bases had a garage with tools where airmen could bring their beater cars and fix them up. There was generally some volunteer car mechanic there from the motor pool pitching in to help.

      Now I don't think they have this anymore, mostly due to liability.

      You think they don't have them anyone... but even though you don't know whether they do or not, you're certain about the reason they don't. Typical.

      If they don't, it's far more likely it's because of force and budget reductions than anything

      • "You think they don't have them anyone... but even though you don't know whether they do or not, you're certain about the reason they don't. Typical."

        Thanks for writing my reply to your dumb post. Your post is no less hypothetical than mine.
        • On the contrary, your post was a complete ass pull. Mine was factual, living in a military town I've seen first hand what's happened and why. Just because you're a clueless idiot, that doesn't mean everyone else is.

          • I'll raise your "living in a military town" and throw down my 22 years in the Air Force.

            I win.

            Fuck you.
            • Yet you still stand by your unsupported hypothesis and refuse to produce facts. Twenty two years in the Chair Force doesn't magically change supposition into facts.

              Don't bother to answer, as your replies tell the truth of the matter - you've been caught slinging bullshit and can't stand being called on it.

              • <quote><p>Yet you still stand by your unsupported hypothesis and refuse to produce facts. Twenty two years in the Chair Force doesn't magically change supposition into facts.</p><p>Don't bother to answer, as your replies tell the truth of the matter - you've been caught slinging bullshit and can't stand being called on it.</p></quote>

                My friend, you need a psychiatric intervention. Good luck and have a nice life.
  • at least you had t be a bit creative then.
  • it's called a workshop, if you call it a "maker space" be prepared for a Boot To The Head.
  • We've had a space like this for a few years now and it has been a very successful demonstration of community effort, business and state grants working together. The Edge [edgeqld.org.au] is attached to the State Library of Queensland and provides maker facilities ("labs"), coworking space, community group meeting spaces and frequently runs workshops for various (frequently open source type) things such as Arduino workshops (run only at cost) and also journalism and (apparently) small business courses.

    Probably also worth men

  • In the Philippines as a dependent they had something like this on base - minus the library :}.
    It was a hobby shop and one could do anything they wanted, you just purchased the raw materials.
    I learned Leather Crafts, how to develop and print film, cut and polish rocks. My Mom tried her hand at oil painting and found she was pretty decent at it. There was so much available to one in such a small place. And no rules, if I felt like repairing my TV the only requirement was I had to lug it in. There was someone

  • In the past High Schools made shop space available in the evenings for evening adult "classes." Classes meant you got access to the shop and whatever advice the shop teachers could give for your project.

    In the 70s' my father turned a Fiat 500 into an electric car at Arroyo HS at the after school shop sessions. It involved ganging several motors and buildings a mount, and at the time a relay-relay logic controller. I knew people who spent the evenings at the HS wood shop making furniture.

    The idea of a public tinkering space is not new. Further, it creates an innovative atmosphere as groups of tinkering minded people gather together.

  • Can I get a big "HELL YES" ?!

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.

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