Hi everyone! This might be a wee bit short of a post, considering I don’t actually have much to say on the concept of this week’s topic that hasn’t been said already. Instead, I’d like to talk about another topic that’s been nagging at me since the Twitter chat.
Firstly, I do believe the concept of maker spaces is a creative and revolutionary new idea, especially when pertaining to libraries. Libraries have always been places that hold repositories of knowledge, and there is the implication that people who use library services are interested in developing the skills and the lessons they gain from using the library’s services into something more tangible and that affects everyone on a large scale. Maker spaces are effectively an extension to that, and one that encourages people to be more active in their creativity.
That being said, though, I also believe that libraries should not be forced to develop the skills and creativity of its users. At the end of the day, a library is a service that stores knowledge. Yes, I do believe that anyone who attends a library should be encouraged to explore reading materials outside of their comfort zone as a means to broaden their horizons. I do believe that librarians should be encouraged to do the same as well, not just to make them more knolwedgeable, but also more versatile and more relatable to a wider variety of customers. The thing is, though, that we should be implicitly encouraging library-goers to challenge themselves by gaining their curiosity and properly engaging them on an adventure, NOT forcing it down their throats.
It’s kind of like being forced to do something you absolutely hate in school, a subject being led by an incompetent teacher with not even the slightest idea on how to properly nurture the students they’re entrusted with. If we take the sort of approach favored by such ‘teachers’ and simply force people into it rather than making the library experience unique for customers, as often happens with disaffected students (myself having been one as a result of such approaches), what was once a bundle of energy, shining like a star and filled with endless talent and potential, is burned out and left as nothing but an empty shell. In the case of school students, they’ll only put in the minimum effort required – and that’s assuming they care. If we take that sort of approach with libraries, the situation will be even worse, as the customer will be burned out on the idea of engaging in the library experience and adventure. Such experiences tend to sour the customer on learning further, which completely defeats the purpose of using the library not only as a knowledge repository, but also a place where that knowledge can be further built upon in a way that ultimately betters a person, and may even embitter them into believing that learning is not a life-enriching and joyous adventure, but a chore.
At the end of the day, how the library presents itself to its loyal customers depends on how it is run, the approaches it takes and how we as librarins treat the idea of learning. Done properly, libraries, when using the maker space concept, can be, like I keep saying, something that expands people’s horizons and betters them overall by making them more learned, active and creative. Done badly? Just send me a private message, and I’ll be happy to tell you some first-hand horror stories about learning and teaching gone horribly wrong!