Again & again, I am reminded that Kiwis are often viewed as a nation of DIY lovers. We love to tinker, we love to hack things, we love to adapt things to our conditions. Some of this possibly stems from early colonial times, being so damn far away from the rest of the world, that people would often make do with what they had rather than wait weeks & months for something else to arrive from overseas. It’s a gross over-generalisation (isn’t that the point of stereotypes?) as there’s plenty of folks who would happily pay someone else to do repairs, and especially now with ongoing constant regulatory changes.
And yet, some of the people & inventions that we are known worldwide for resulted from shed tinkerers (World’s Fastest Indian anyone?). I recently watched an episode from First Crossings,(Episode 6, Series Two), the one which recreates Kelly Tarlton’s underwater exploration of the Elingamite shipwreck off the Three Kings Islands. Apparently Tarlton made his own diving gear, such as breathing regulators from old aircraft parts!
So how could we scale up our shed-tinkering Kiwi DIY opportunities to create the ultimate in #makerspaces?
For me, part of it is about creating shared spaces, providing a collective space to gather together, and part of it is taking responsibility to provide the tools to get people started. In some instances this might be providing the people tools (knowledge, experience), or it might be providing a physical tools (spanners, wrenches), or even a proactively linked collection of print & electronic materials (copies of Make magazine, books about Raspberry Pi).
These spaces don’t have to be in the library at all times, it might be that we don’t have the space to create a dedicated space for tinkering at all hours, but we could re-purpose some of our program delivery budget & space to create a place for people to gather, and to do what they will with it.
I don’t yet know of a public library in New Zealand that owns a 3D printer, but I do know of several tertiary institutions that have at least one 3D printer on campus – but not in the library.
What if … libraries could act as a place of discovery through a short period of display rather than being the place of ownership of a 3D printer?
What if … libraries actively collated online DIY videos (e.g. Mitre 10 Easy As series) with our printed DIY materials, potentially freeing up some of our AV budgets?
What if … we set aside a dedicated bookable space for different #maker or #fixer groups to meet monthly?
It could be that simply providing the physical space is all that is needed to encourage the growth of the #maker & #fixer philosophy, or it might be that we need to actively facilitate these groups. Ultimately though it is up to the community to do what they will with the space.