Go ahead, make…

Forget Rumpelstiltskin’s debtor spinning straw into gold and Cinderella’s fairy godmother devising a coach from a pumpkin.   This project demanded creativity.

Michelle, our library director, requested that fellow reference librarian Chris and I design a giveaway flyer for the library’s booth at the June 8 Mini Maker Faire.   The brochure’s mission:  “information for the Maker community about the resources available.”

So many resources; so few quick explanations of “Maker community”.

Which assessment of “Maker” do you credit, and then how do you encapsulate what we can offer all those who qualify? Definitions of “maker” consider location (hackerspace/studio/workshop/lab), tools (hardware/software/traditional tools/collaborative knowledge), purpose (to invent/tinker/innovate/envision), and end result (technological innovation/ consumer products/crafts/acquired techniques and strategies).

“Making” happens in DIY mode but also DIWO (Do It with Others) style and encourages learning by playing and experimentation.  Jeff Sturges, associated with a Detroit makerspace, sees the Maker movement as “creating creative people”.

Though digital and technical projects (3-D printers currently the trendiest) dominate Maker news, the scientific component represents only one facet.   Jewelry makers, woodworkers, fiber artists, urban winemakers are all Makers, along with those dabbling in robotics and custom electronic gadgetry with ArduinoRaspberry Pi, and the like.  San Francisco’s recent SF Made Week campaign exemplifies the spectrum of participants and interests.

Austin Public Library’s Recycled Reads store demonstrates Maker activity, combining recycling and “upcycling”. Recycled Reads now attracts crafters who show up not just to admire and purchase store offerings but also to create.  Round Rock Public Library has fostered Maker activity for years, a recent example being the Knit & Crochet meetup.

Round Rock Arts Council‘s clever take on making/upcycling–the Have a Ball contest— invites everyone to produce imaginative creations using baseballs to be displayed, then auctioned. Proceeds benefit RRAC, thus demonstrating that currency, too, can be upcycled.

Generating ideas for an adequate handout, we shifted into Maker mode ourselves.   Chris envisioned a “credit card thin” digital surface with integrated personal minder “(Your e-book checkout is about to expire…”) and a Siri-like inquiry option.  I imagined a handheld trifold multimedia screen with continually updated carousel displays and a sensor that records eye movement in order to assess which displays the holder focused on most in order to prioritize featured topics.

But we’ve downsized our dreams back to paper format, the mode which our department can afford and which, incidentally, already exists.   Collection Development Manager Theresa is purchasing for the library a subscription to Make magazine.   We’ve ordered more books on Arduino to supplement the hundreds of books and resources on various aspects of making and upcycling already here.

For fiction readers, I recommend Cory Doctorow’s Makers, (according to Publishers Weekly, a “tour de force” and “one of the most brilliant reimaginings of the near future since cyberpunk wore out its mirror shades.”) It’s currently checked out to me.

But, since I have so many ideas for weekend projects, I’m returning it this afternoon.  Look to your Maker laurels, CFG!

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