- A bit of background on what informed the project - A look at our space at the Toronto Reference Library, opened in February Our 2nd digital hub will be in the new Fort York branch opening later this month. How we made the decision to buy the 3d printer A bit about our service model for 3d printing Ab Will give you a look at the classes and programs we’ve been offering to support the 3d printer and other types of making. How the space is used and the reception its received.
When we opened the Digital Innovation Hub we closed our Digital Design Studio which had been supporting library users with desktop and web publishing for 12 years with tools that were out of reach for most consumers. But in that time technology has continued to evolve and is now more affordable and entirely pervasive in our lives. Learning inside and outside of libraries has moved from a read to a read/write model and citizens have shifted from consumers of information to creators of information and digital content. Literacy and it&apos;s connection to citizenship informed our early libraries and it’s just as relevant now But new media means we need new literacies. Code is the new literacy. The Code or the architecture of our technology determines how we interact with it. And much of that interaction or behaviour is governed by the market and nearly ALL of it happens below the level of our attention. Our understanding of this is vital and it informs how we make digital content today. One response to this is the rise of Open Source - where code is shared by a software creator and others are invited to build upon it as long as they too share the code. The collaborative nature of the approach builds community. Curiosity not commerce motivates its members.
The Maker movement is another response to the pervasive nature of technology and arguably a response to anxiety around our lack of control of technology. Maker spaces and hacker spaces are places where do it yourselfers with an interests in computers, technology or digital art come together to share resources and expertise to build things. Digital media labs by contrast, have content creation tools that allow people to produce and share video, music , photography and 3d design projects. Both types of spaces emphasize collaboration and peer-to-peer learning and, as a consequence, community building. Both types of spaces focus on technology and innovation (be the tools high-tech or low-tech). In both types of spaces technology is shared and the lower cost of technology has a democratizing effect. More technology in the hands of more people, means more content creators. But there is a new generation now which has grown up in a largely digital environment They were born into a consumer-based economy where it is cheaper to throw away and buy a new kettle or printer than it is to fix it. For this generation the DIY spirit is a new notion rooted in social activism.
Where do public libraries fit into this equation? Like you, we see Makerspaces and digital media labs as a natural extension of the roles public libraries already play as public spaces, community hubs, and bridges across the digital divide. At Toronto Public Library our Innovation Hubs are open to all ages, providing a welcoming environment for anyone who wants to learn, experiment, explore and create. They are Free, providing access to equipment and technology that helps to foster critical digital literacy They will be part of a larger environment supporting self-directed learning and discovery Connected to our Collections, workshops and programs, the Library support the coming together of individuals and groups of people – including programmers, artists, designers, creators and innovators.
For Ab. , myself, and the rest of the team, we found our inspiration in other public libraries which had already begun the journey and local makerspaces where we found enthusiasm and a generous spirit of collaboration. And many of these first contacts have become instrumental partners in the growth of the space, training of staff, and become collaborators as we try to bring this new technology to the general public.
And so we started to build a space on the main floor of the Toronto Reference Library just north of Yonge and Bloor in the heart of the city. We cleared out a space, filled it with all kinds of new technology And we insisted on including a few empty tables so that patrons could decide how best to make use of them. And people came! And they keep on coming.
Here’s a quick run down of some the tools we offer
And the mix of commercial and open source or free software.
We are making available: green screen and video technology audio recording and mixing tools Arduino and Raspberry Pis and even first generation technology such as the Lytro camera and a 3d scanner.
When it came to choosing a printer, our survey of other maker spaces in libraries was invaluable. We also looked at Make magazine’s annual guide to 3d printing We chose the Makerbot 2. Why? It worked out of the box – we felt it was a good choice given the numerous challenges facing our small staff There were very favourable reviews and the Price point worked for our budget PLA filament is more environmentally friendly than ABS PLA printer does not have a heated plate, so safety for young hands was another consideration Being new to the world of 3d printing the Online community support was also a real plus. And there were Canadian vendors to provide printers, parts and supplies.
We were very much inspired by a picture of Chattanooga Public library’s 3d printer which stated: If you have a library card, this is your printer This principle of access and use drove our service decisions. We want library users to learn about how to use the machines effectively and safely – so we have a mandatory 3d certification class which introduces the basics of the printer itself and Makerware (the supporting software), our pricing and the “house rules”. We have 2 printers: one is reservable, the other is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A printing fee of 5 cents a minute plus $1 will be charged for each print job. A 30 minute print job costs $2.50. A maximum of two hours is allowed for each print job The following rules apply: You must have a valid Toronto Public Library card You must complete a 3D Printer Certification Course showing you know the basics of using the printer Printing weapons, sexually-explicit materials and other items that contravene the library&apos;s Rules of Conduct are not allowed
Toronto Reference Library
Make. Learn. Play. Create.
Learn by Doing
• Maker and Hacker spaces
• Digital Media Labs
• Collaborative work
• Peer to peer learning
• Sharing: making in public
• Democratization of
• Social activism
Why The Library?
• Free and accessible
• Bridge the Digital Divide
• Critical literacies
• Community building & collaboration
• Skills development
• Self-directed learning
• Collections, Programs, Services
• Volunteer Program
• Staff Internships
• More programs
• Outreach opportunities
• Community partnerships and external resources are key
• Classes are great investments to build self-sufficient users
• Equipment will break and require maintenance and care
• Budget for new equipment and software
• Aspire for higher-end users by offer higher-end tools
• Staff don’t need to be experts but should have attitude to learn
• Dedicated production space required for AV equipment
• Build in flexibility to take your service offerings outside your space
• Give yourself permission to FAIL
We’d love to hear from you!