Thinking more about makerspaces in libraries:
My caution about makerspaces is rooted in my sense that we’ve turned to them largely due to this ubiquitous fear that libraries will become irrelevant. The fear that if we don’t change, if we don’t innovate, if we don’t disrupt, then we’ll go the way of the dodo. We latch onto all sorts of ideas that promise to prove our continued relevancy and adaptability to people.
But this fear of irrelevancy is unfounded. For the past decade and more, pretty much every public library in the country has seen their usage rise. The data is clear – door counts, circs, and the use of library resources across the board are going up. More people use public library systems now than ever before.
Why are we so concerned about bending over backwards to prove that we’re relevant? It’s clear that we’re more relevant than we’ve ever been. The data is there for all to see.
Makerspaces serve useful purpose in our communities (absent more formal vocational training opportunities) and that’s great.
But I worry that we’re jumping on the makerspace bandwagon mostly because we’re depending on them to keep us relevant. And that’s the wrong reason.
Libraries change by their very nature. Culture and society evolve and the needs of our communities change. Makerspaces are an innovation that offer useful services to patrons and we should explore that.
But I worry that we’re turning to them—along with other innovations—because we’re in a panic. That’s not a solid foundation on which to build a successful service.