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Library: The Once and Future Makerspace


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Libraries have always provided scholars and patrons with the tools of knowledge production. The once simple tools in monastic libraries of the 10th century, such as the quill, scroll, inventory list, and heavy worktable, have become incredibly more complex in libraries servicing twenty-first century literacies. The nature of ‘things’ patrons create
with library tools has changed in recent years as universities and libraries incorporate new technologies and new media in the educational experience. This increasing
complexity of tools, however, has not changed the library's central role of providing the space for information consumption, the training in support of various literacies, and support of knowledge creation in whatever forms the researcher requires. The only thing
that has really changed is the nature of the tools libraries support, which has led to a substantial multiplication of end formats.

This talk examines the relatively new phenomenon of makerspaces as a conceptual model for understanding the twenty-first century library. The evolving nature and sensibility of makerspaces provides a mirror for seeing the library anew. In tracing the
technological leaps in information consumption and production libraries have supported over the past 30 years we will demonstrate that libraries in retrospect have always been
‘knowledge makerspaces,’ and posit that the deployment of word processing software as a library ‘tool’ at the end of the twentieth century substantially expanded the libraries’
role as makerspace. We will pay particularly attention to the commonalities and shared ethics of libraries and makerspaces: both provide tools in places where individuals and, more commonly, collaborative groups make/create new things out of existing elements,
both share an interest in community, learning and creation.

Adopting the makerspace model to explain our function helps us shape our story in ways that fully enmesh us in the future of learning, education, and knowledge production. To envision ourselves providing the broader array of tools needed to support multiple-media learning and literacy enhances our relevancy to constituents - and to funding agencies

Published in: Education
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Library: The Once and Future Makerspace

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