Continuing on the train of thought about curiousity that I began a few days ago with Curiousity Doesn’t Kill Cats or Ideas, I was intrigued by a TED talkby Dale Dougherty. Dougherty publishes Make: Technology on Your Time; a do-it-yourself magazine for “tinkering with technology” from O’Reilly (he co-founded O’Reilly Media, Inc. with Tim O’Reilly); he formerly lectured at School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) . He believes, and he’s absolutely right, that “America was built by makers — curious, enthusiastic amateur inventors whose tinkering habit sparked whole new industries”. Not just America — countries and indeed any successful “thing” or organization is based on the work of those who are curious & determined enough to keep “tinkering,”exploring, collaborating, creating & building.
In “We are Makers” (see below) Dougherty says the only question people who “make” things need to ask is “Can I do it?” Let’s ask that question in libraries: “Can we do it?” Of course! Not only can “we” do it, but we are the organizations inspiring people in our communities and campuses to do it.
Libraries are FULL of ideas; full of technology; they are places (spaces — virtually & physically) of collaborative knowledge for people to explore and use to create new ideas and new knowledge. Public libraries have long supported DIY for craft-related interests – so why not DIY with technology to attract youth & a whole different sector of the community who perceive the library as “the book place.” Instead, their public library could be their “Technology DIY Zone” — or “Computing Club” — (Dougherty describes the Hacker Clubs & Homebrew Computing Club, but those names may be problematic for the public library!) A space for, as Dougherty says, “playing with technology to discover possibilities.” That’s what public libraries are — spaces to discover possibilties.
University libraries, integral to learning & research, already have media centres in which people explore media possibilities — a technology DIY center, particularly aligned with the computing department would be a natural fit.
Guess you can tell I’m really on a soapbox lately about encouraging libraries to see themselves differently — to see their core purpose & to hold true to that core purpose through different strategies, different services, different approaches, different spaces (virtually & physically) — and librarians to see roles differently. Combine technology, curiousity, exploration & collaborative knowledge (isn’t that what libraries are about? Collaborative knowledge?) there’s no stopping us – or libraries. Libraries as Idea Makers.