This post was written for my Libr 287 - Hyperlinked Library course I took in the Fall of 2013. I came to librarianship from an arts background because I thought libraries had the power to connect people with information and each other for social good, just like the art I always wanted to do. And creation culture is a very exciting way that libraries can do this.
I understand the criticisms. “It leads you to the tangible – that’s not your job. It is the concept of the intangible that connects all the objects librarians have traditionally dealt with- books, records, photographs, magnetic tape and compact discs. It is this tradition of dealing with the intangible that makes librarianship such an exciting profession right now” (Rundle, 2013). However, the intangible is also about connection and belonging and skills, all things a library can create though maker spaces and other creative incubators.
Beyond philosophical reasons for creation culture in libraries, it’s clear that if we are not dipping our space and staff into that world, the world will pass us by. “More recently, the exploding popularity of YouTube shows that people are interested in small, personal productions” (Jacobsen & Anthony, 2011). The general culture is moving towards more production on an individual or community-based level, equipped with tools both new and old, emerging and well-worn. And none to soon, what with the consolidation of corporations and media conglomerates - citizen-based information creation is as important as ever.
I appreciated Zeke Leonard, assistant professor at Syracuse School of Design’s quote in Britton’s (2012) article.
“Making anything for yourself is a political act,” says Zeke Leonard, assistant professor, Syracuse University School of Design. “The further we get from the creation of an object, the less we have a connection with the people, resources, and process. This limits how we assign value to objects. If we can all start to make more and consume less, then we can be more thoughtful about the resources used to create the objects and food and garments that we fill our lives with,” Leonard says.
When people are creating objects, ideas, and information in their own communities, it can draw a community closer together to create resiliency and power. And librarians are very well positioned to do so. Maxine Bleiweis, director at the Westport Public Library, was quoted in Britton: “Bleiweis says the library is there to provide the framework, not to be in charge. She says there is a shift from a librarian being the person who had all of the answers to the person who has questions and the ability to find the answers.” However, I disagree. I think librarians were always the people who had questions and the ability to find answers – it’s always been about other people’s content, there’s just been a flattening of who’s content. There has been a shift away from the ways that libraries work institutionally towards user-based and participatory, but librarians have always been framework creators for others to use. I agree with Doctorow (2013) when he says, “Public libraries have always been places where skilled information professionals assisted the general public with the eternal quest to understand the world.” Sometimes you have to create in order to understand.
To end my blog post for today, I’d like to share some awesome art about libraries. Check out Alice Walsh, Lost Memory by Theresa Moerman, and the Reading Nest by Mark Riegalman. These are lot more formal than say, the magic coming out of Oak Park’s IdeaBox, but I love them all! They all came from the excellent Library as Incubator project, who I am interning with next semester hooray hooray!
Britton, L. (2012, October 1). The makings of maker spaces, part 1: Space for creation, not just consumption [Web log post]. The Digital Shift. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/10/public-services/the-makings-of-maker-spaces-part-1-space-for-creation-not-just-consumption/
Doctorow, C. (2013, February 25). Libraries and makerspaces: a match made in heaven [Web log post]. boingboing. Retrieved from http://boingboing.net/2013/02/25/libraries-and-makerspaces-a-m.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
Jacobsen, M., & Anthony, C. (2011, November 8). Build your own digital media lab [Web log post]. The Digital Shift. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2011/11/media/build-your-own-digital-media-lab/
Rundle, H. (2013, January 2). Mission creep – a 3D printer will not save your library [Web log post]. It’s not about the books: libraries, technology, information, stories. Retrieved from http://hughrundle.net/2013/01/02/mission-creep-a-3d-printer-will-not-save-your-library/