The maker movement, known to past generations as “DIY” (do-it-yourself), encourages collaboration, invention, and radical participation with a single goal: to create new things. This maker ethos is gaining a serious foothold in education, both in practice and at the policy level.
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.
In the not-so-distant future, communities could view their local libraries as the place to go when they want to publish their own ebook, create and edit their latest song or video, or even design and print out plastic tools, toys, and prototypes. A growing number of libraries already offer their patrons tools such as recording equipment and sound and video editing software. Now, some are beginning to house 3D printers. In fact, many libraries have begun viewing such services as a core part of their mission.