Over the past year , the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) has enjoyed the successful rollout of its Fabulous Laboratory (Fab Lab), a Maker space that resulted from the library’s commitment to community engagement and innovation. During this time, the library’s staff have been honored to speak about the Fab Lab and to explain not only its success but also the variety of challenges and assumptions that most libraries will face when developing a similar space.
Over the past 40 years, public libraries have followed popular culture through the ever-more-abstract artifacts of the digital age, offering music and video in every format, public computers for Internet access, online branches, and downloadable content. Now, some libraries are following Maker culture back to things we can hold in our hands.
Maker spaces in libraries are the latest step in the evolving debate over what public libraries’ core mission is or should be. From collecting in an era of scarce resources to curation in an era of overabundant ones, some libraries are moving to incorporate cocreation: providing the tools to help patrons produce their own works of art or information and sometimes also collecting the results to share with other members of the community.
Recently I came across some open source software for serving really large images on the web, and as the proprietor of a photography web site, I was immediately intrigued. What if, I thought, I could put up the full versions of my photos (multi-megapixel) for viewing and discovery, but not for download? This is because [...]
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded a $291,178 grant to the Public Library Association (PLA) to develop an online collection of digital literacy resources. The two year grant, which was given via the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, will help PLA partner with the American Library Association (ALA)’s Office for Information [...]
With many libraries facing the squeeze of rising usage and flat or declining funding, self-service technologies have become more of a necessity. Librarians who discussed these technologies with LJ said that self-service options generally improve service overall. With these tools in place, staff have more time to answer questions and assist patrons.
In Bristol, a city straddling the border of Tennessee and Virginia, the Bristol Public Library (BPL) is taking digital literacy training to the next level. The library employs a small staff of full-time teachers, who have made computer training a key component of BPL’s 25 year-old Patricia Freedman Literacy Academy (PFLA). The academy launched as a GED prep program in the late 1980s, and even then, it offered a small computer component for students who wanted to learn keyboarding, said BPL Executive Director Jud Barry. Computers have since become ubiquitous, and five years ago, BPL opened a new main library with a computer lab, where the teachers are available for one-on-one instruction five days per week.
Connecticut’s Westport Public Library (WPL) officially launched its new Maker Space with a press conference this week. Contained within a large, open metal structure modeled after early airplane hangars, the new section of the library’s great hall features cutting edge tech gadgets such as a MakerBot 3D printer, and will host presentations and participatory workshops on topics ranging from robotics, to intellectual property rights for inventors, to arts and crafts. “It’s a national trend that you’re going to see sweeping the country, and you’re seeing here in one of the very first places ever,” said WPL director Maxine Bleiweis.