Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prioritizing patron training

Instead of waiting until we could create a whole new digital media lab to provide our patrons with training on software applications, we went ahead and designated a computer with a static IP address and subscribed to Lynda.com!

Patrons AND staff will now be able to access great training videos on a variety of software in the Reference Department. This is a great first step in turning our library into a truly functional Makerspace for our adult patrons.




We're prioritizing an expanded in-house video instruction library so our patrons are given lots of opportunity to become comfortable and even savvy at downloading books, using state-of-the-art apps, and all the ways they can use their new devices to access material at the library.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Oreo Separator Machines



Has anyone seen these machines/ robots that separate Oreos in creative ways?

Unsurprisingly, they are really ads made by Nabisco, but I got a kick out of them and they made me think about one of the philosophies behind Makerspaces: Tinkering and Play. This just means that the creative journey is what's important- not the product you end up making. Even if you make something useless and silly, you still learned from the tinkering experience.

Here's a link to a website that has all of the videos of the different machines:
Oreo Sepatators

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Making Science a Cultural Activity

 Why are so many of us afraid of Science?
Is it because we never got comfortable with the jargon? Never had a hands-on experience? Thought of Science as a "Club" that we had to be invited into?

So many of the hobbies of 19th and 20th century middle and upper class people were enthusiasms that grew into scientific disciplines: Paleontology (Mary Anning in Lyme Regis, UK), Ornithology (John James Audubon), Botany (A.R. Wallace), for example.

Boys (usually) in the 1950s were given chemistry sets, electric train sets, radio kits, with proscribed projects to build and create. In this way they developed an interest in MAKING THINGS.

Girls learned to sew, knit, cook, garden. These were practical skills that frequently became lifelong passions.

Admittedly, these pursuits were gender-segregated, but now, even with an awareness of the need to expose both genders to the full complement of interests,  the decline in Practical Arts classes in schools and the increasing consumerism of technology, has many of us - children, teens AND adults - deprived of the passion for any hobbies at all! We work, eat sleep, and consume technology.

Let's get it back!  That's part of the driving force behind the Makerspace Movement.

At Sprout & Co., a group of young MIT trained Maker enthusiasts are helping public and private groups re-discover the fascination of scientific tinkering. We have spoken with Alec Resnick, one of the founders, who is going to help us plan a strategy for bringing electronic tinkering and scientific exploration into the realm of Young Adult Programming here at the Duxbury Free Library. We're interested in other forms of creation as well, but feel that this is an area sadly lacking in the stable of experiences our young people get during their formative years.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Starting a Tech Lab?

Just talking amongst ourselves in informal settings, as well as in actual meetings, the DFL staff has come up with a bunch of ideas for Makerspace programming and tools. I just wanted to start to share them.

Start a Tech Lab in the Reference Room:

We have a little extra corner of space in the Reference Department near our existing bank of computers, and we'd like to fill that in with some new hardware and software to be able to provide patrons access to some creative digital tools. Hopefully, our own staff and Duxbury community members will have expertise with these products that will enable us to provide classes.

   Pie in the sky, here is what we would like to purchase and provide:

  • laptops (maybe 6)
  • color printer
  • Adobe Creative Suite (Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Light Room, Muse, Acrobat XI Pro, etc)
  • White Board or Smart Board
We'd also like to have an audio component in the tech lab to offer a podcasting studio. I'm not sure that we have enough space to make a music studio- that would probably be too much noise for our little space in the library. But we already have some sound equipment: mics, tabletop mic stands, mic cables to attach to a laptop, and the program Audacity on a laptop. Ellen and Suzanne are going to start on a little podcast experiment in order familiarize ourselves with the process.

Although starting a Tech Lab would take some initial overhead, we think patrons will be interested in using these services. At the moment we are going to use what we already have in the library with the hope that it will grow in the future. What so you think?

We have many other ideas that I look forward to sharing!

Poetry Collaboration - A month long creation

An idea from the Kingston Public Library for Poetry Month is a perfect example of collective creation in the library setting:
To celebrate National Poetry Month everyone is invited to create their own poems and display them on the courtyard windows! The words on clear vinyl will be provided for you to use and your creations will be there for all to enjoy!

 These photos are from Phillips Library at Aurora University, Aurora, Illinois.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

R David Lankes Hits a Home Run





Changing Times..... Inspiring Libraries

R. David Lankes wrote the book that many of us have read:
Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries for Today's Complex World.

Watch this short video clip to get the vision that we are building on:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Online skill building - a great offering to library patrons


One of the fastest ways to help patrons use our resources is the short video tutorial.  People like to be able to learn in their own time and at their own speed.


Not everyone wants to attend a physical class. That's why, as part of our Makerspace initiative, we are thinking about expanding our own stable of video tutorials as well as perhaps offer a "seat" on Lynda.com for our patrons. Though the costs make it a premium offering, we think that, for the yearly cost of a research database, we could offer our patrons a powerful skill-building service.... Something to think about....

If you are interested in developing your own screenshot-based video tutorials, we have found the tools at Techsmith to be handy.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

How do you become a Makerspace if you don't have dedicated space?

Space usage for programs is always an issue.
Even without the additional challenge of creating open-ended Makerspace programming we have conflicting demands on our space. Community needs and library programs frequent vie for space and we are always reminding people that they need to allow for time before and after a program to set up and clean up.

What I am currently doing with my Tuesday afternoon Middle School Cardboard World builders is that, for the month duration of this project, I have been allowed to build in the room, then store the project on the tiled area and screen it off, thereby allowing the large, unwieldy cardboard structures to be hidden from view.

This allows authors to sign in the room, toddlers to jump and dance, Laughter Yoga enthusiasts to laugh, Game Night folks to Just Dance and it doesn't look unsightly.

It's great to have a supportive administration and collegial co-workers who understand. But most open space in libraries needs to be multi-usage and we all have to be flexible.

Friday, March 15, 2013

You never know when you're going to make a connection



Twice today, we made important connections in networking to build a stronger user and presenter base for our Makerspace re-branding.

Once in the morning with a business leader in the community with whom we met to help us create a mobile web site presence. After our initial discussion, our director, Carol Jankowski, steered the conversation to, "we are interested finding out what your business association members need and how we can meet them here at the library." We showed him the Innisfil Digital Media Lab footage, with the caveat that we are not there yet but we hope to get there eventually, and he was VERY enthusiastic! He told us about the frustrations local entrepreneurs face in getting beyond the initial stages of launch into stable growth and success. They need resources, feel alone, and don't have time or money to spend on a lot of skill-building.  Can we help out? We are going to explore the possibilities...!

Then, in the evening, I had a set of parents come by early to pick up their daughter from our Game Night event. I chatted with them about my plans to include an engineering program in my summer reading program using a simple micro-processor (Arduino) and a pencil (the fable "Drawdio" project) and the father sat up and said, "I am an electrical engineer who has worked with the Arduino and I know exactly what you are talking about! I'd love to help you get this off the ground!"

This just shows how talking about tentative ideas and possible plans can draw out the talents and interests in your local community!   Try this in your location and see what amazing connections come about.

Library Staff Skills Inventory

Sometimes you don't know what you have until you ask...
We just did a library staff skills inventory to find out what we might be able to offer as practice tools to make our lives richer and more productive. We asked:

  1. "What APPs do you use on your smartphone or tablet?
  2. Do you use a piece of software that you love and couldn't live without?
  3. What social media are you comfortable with?
  4. What hobbies do you have that you'd like to share?
  5. Have you gone through a recent life change (moving, child with special needs, job search, senior living for parents) that you have research and could share with others?
The point is, you don't have to be an expert to have something of value to share with patrons. If you set up your program in an open, accepting way, patrons themselves feel comfortable sharing their experiences and knowledge on a topic as well!

From this inventory, we are planning to build a series of programs over a course of time, that will brand our library as a "Go To" place that is comfortable, helpful, supportive for our patrons.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Way to connect with folks doing Makerspace stuff in your neck-of-the-woods

One excellent way to find your Makerspace "kindred spirits" is to sign up on Meet-up.com :

http://makerspaces.meetup.com/cities/us/ma/easton/

It's important to branch out your patron base, comfort zone, usual suspects.
What about people who DON'T normally frequent the library?  Maybe this is a chance to make an unprecedented connection...!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ames Free Library wins important grant!

Check out this wonderful news from the Ames Free Library in Easton, MA:

http://www.amesfreelibrary.org/Popups/PR_innovation.html

Getting started at Artisan's Asylum in Somerville

In February, 2013, a number of librarians met with engineers, dreamers, tinkerers, gadget-makers at a Makerspace called Artisan's Asylum in Somerville, MA to explore what the possibilites are of bringing hands-on learning and tinkering into the context of schools and libraries.

Dale Dougherty, the founder of the Makerspace movement, sat with us in a small group, brainstorming ways in which libraries can be a catalyst for turning Americans back from being simply consumers into makers.

Space is always a big issue. Re-configuring space and re-imagining what we do in libraries will be an on-going challenge. Most libraries do value programming as an essential part of their mission, but much programming is lecture format, book signings, sharing of information as patron sit passively and absorb ideas, thoughts, information. The shift in programming will have to include seeing the patron as an active participant in a program and also, ideally, giving people an opportunity to explore, in a hands-on way, tools and media that allow them to become makers. Short programs can be a starting point, but places where people can return to continue their work would be great.

HERE IS A SHORT VIDEO OF AN ARDUINO PROJECT presented by Kevin Osborn: