Editorial note: Hi, folks, sorry for the brief hiatus. I’ve been out sick with bronchitis for almost a month. Hope to get back on schedule this week.
Genesis story for #MAYker Monday c/o PC Sweeney:
It is more than likely, if you are reading this blog, you are familiar with the concept of maker- or hackerspaces. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the population at large. MAYker Monday is an initiative that culminated following a session at ALA Midwinter as outlined in P.C. Sweeney’s post above. He makes a compelling case that libraries and librarians are already participating in maker culture, but they just don’t call it that.
I think a lot of libraries think that participating in maker- faires, spaces, movements, culture requires a lot of ancillary equipment or special tools. While that can be the case for some items, the spirit of the makers is that of MacGyver. If a paperclip is involved anything is possible! Often it is about using ordinary things in novel ways. Sometimes it is just about taking things apart to see how they work. When I went to the Detroit Maker Faire last year, there was everything from seed bombs and gardening hacks to full size vehicles, robots, and 3D printers. That is the beauty of maker culture. If you have a hobby or even just a curiosity about the world, it is likely that you will be able to find some place in maker culture.
Interested in gaming, why not try setting up your own Alternate Reality Game (ARG)? It can be as simple as geocaching or as complex as Shadow Cities. Don’t have the tech for ARG, try a multimedia scavenger hunt instead. Interested in knitting? Find something to yarnbomb. What about things the library is traditionally known for you say? How many of our libraries already include programming with Legos, duct tape, jewelry or the like? A good portion likely. What about a multimedia book club? If you’re romance book club is reading a steampunk romance, try steaming up jewelry, parasols, or other items mentioned in the book.
The idea here is that for every Monday in May (and there are only 3 this year) we make an effort to introduce maker culture to our communities. That might mean bringing in community members who are already a part of the movement like All Hands Active in Ann Arbor. If you don’t have a community partner like that, think about businesses that might benefit from introducing making to the community and ask them to sponsor for the cost of supplies (which can be as cheap as some LED lights, superglue and batteries). Maybe it’s the Local Electrician’s or Pipefitter’s Union. You might be surprised where your maker allies are hidden.
Maker and hacker cultures are evolving and may still be rough around the edges, but that is why it is so important for us to be involved. Maybe a patron will find out they are adept at building micro-robots and decide to turn that into a job, or maybe a little girl will decide she wants to go into science because she got to make a fruit battery. And all of this can be tied to our resources. Create some passive displays around the area where you do the programming that allow people to pick up CDs, DVDs, and books about the types of making they are doing that day. The more people understand about this movement, the benefits and the joy of lifelong learning, the more likely it is that this type of culture will become more mainstream and get some of its rough edges polished off.
Library Journal: Toronto Public Library Enters Alternate Reality (Gaming):
EpBot: Crafts & Tutorials:
P.S. Why not make something for Mother’s Day? It’s just around the corner!
This is a guest post by Chris Bulin (@Arduanne), a graduate student assistant at the Taubman Health Sciences Library.