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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the inventing-the-future dept.

Wired reports that:

When it opened in spring 2013, the maker floor - formerly unused and filled with decrepit equipment - became a massive hit, and up to 1,200 patrons attended events there. "Normally you hold a library event and you get six people," says Meg Backus, the systems administrator and chief maker for Chattanooga. But this new floor gives patrons access to new forms of literacy, ones they hunger after: design, programming, video editing, book writing, and website building. Consider it a glimpse into the future of libraries. They're becoming places to not just imbibe knowledge but create it - physically. Many people don't have access to classic hacker spaces, are intimidated by them, or can't afford them. "But here all you need is a library card," says CJ Lynce, who runs a similarly equipped space at the Cleveland Public Library.

Apparently, 109 libraries in the US have a makerspace or are close to opening one - and it can be done for US$25,000.

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  • (Score: 2) by meisterister on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:23AM

    by meisterister (949) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:23AM (#88751) Journal

    Is Colorado Springs. I got to attend an event in which the director of our library district spoke using copious buzzwords about how technology is the future. Overall I have to say that I'm looking forward to this.

    (May or may not have been) Posted from my K6-2, Athlon XP, or Pentium I/II/III.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:11AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:11AM (#88765) Journal

    Last year they finished a 5-year renovation project at our local branch in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to add a handicapped ramp. In year 2 I started pleading with them to add a makerspace. This part of Brooklyn is a hot-bed of creativity and technology now. There is a large, vibrant artist colony in the warehouse spaces around the Gowanus canal, and there are several hackerspaces including Resistor, which was co-founded by Bre Pettis, the CEO of MakerBot. So a makerspace in Park Slope would be an instant smash hit.

    What we got instead was a handicapped ramp that's too narrow for two wheelchairs or strollers (it's Park Slope, the baby capital of NYC) to pass each other and a handicapped access button that's perfectly camouflaged to look like a post instead of a button.

    I sure hope somebody at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library sees this and gets inspired. People would flock to it.

    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Wednesday September 03 2014, @01:10PM

      by morgauxo (2082) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @01:10PM (#88869)

      If you already have NYC Resistor why do you need a makerspace in your library?

      • (Score: 2) by tibman on Wednesday September 03 2014, @02:03PM

        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 03 2014, @02:03PM (#88903)

        Some people really hate Bre Pettis : /

        SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
        • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Thursday September 04 2014, @02:47PM

          by morgauxo (2082) on Thursday September 04 2014, @02:47PM (#89357)

          I wish NYC Resistor was in my city. I wish any hackerspace was in my city. :-(

  • (Score: 2) by jackb_guppy on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:12AM

    by jackb_guppy (3560) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:12AM (#88766)

    Chattanooga - better network, better library, better city. I need to move. I need Choo to get me there!

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday September 03 2014, @11:41AM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @11:41AM (#88846)

    Some local observations: The main public library has had meeting rooms for at least 40 years (verified by personal observation) and they are making baby steps for years now toward storing stuff and machines. Really, a makerspace is just a library meeting room, but with storage. Oh there's nice to have, like concrete floors or lots of power wiring or good ventilation for forge work or far away from people who complain about noise, but fundamentally its a meeting room with lockable door / closet / lockers, and the local library is getting awfully close to this.

    So they've got lego, they've got ipads, they've got video game consoles believe it or not...

    They had a makerspace meeting with about 40 attendees that went about nowhere. Probably because there's "big" relatively famous spaces 45 minutes to the east and 45 minutes to the west and a small wanna be space about 30 minutes north and I guess I/we live in just the wrong spot.

    I am not sure I have any interest in a makerspace, however. My metalworking and electronic hobbies tend to get big so transport is an issue. Commute time is a killer, now that I've got the stereotypical wife and kids if I have a half hour until dinner, I get a half hour of hobby time in the basement minus a couple seconds to traverse the stairs, but that would barely be a one way trip to the "local" makerspace. My hobbies involve a lot of "stuff" and I know exactly where it is and the main limiter to speed is material handling at this point in my skill levels so I'd be frustrated working in someone else's shop. Some of the stuff I do with high voltage power supplies or pretty much anything involving the metal lathe, or milling machine, or the table saw are so dangerous I don't want to be distracted by socializing or other people. It would be interesting to meet people and get ideas but I can "meet" people and get many more ideas online from a much larger online community.

    There is a cultural issue where stereotypes abound and a local metalworker described his experience to me as they're a bunch of noob java programmers trying to learn to solder. I'm just not going to relate to that / them. The standard SN automobile analogy is we're all excellent drivers, so that means we automatically volunteer to help out in drivers ed classes in our spare time. Oh F no, that is not a good match WRT temperament or interests or any of that to most of us.

    There are financial issues too, small spaces tend to be expensive, so they want like $75/month. Well, hell, after doing this stuff since the 80s, I don't buy much other than raw materials and "toys" anymore so thats a lot of money. If I had an extra $75 to blow on hobby stuff I'd make a couple extra orders to oshpark for pcbs of my own design, or thats about a shoebox of "fun" from digikey, or pile it up for a couple months and I can get some decent gear. A couple years back I treated myself to a brand new SMD soldering station to replace the one I'd been using since the early 90s, nice, really nice. Its that Chinese place that Hakko and that brand thats all vowels and I can't pronounce, sells. So I have no real interest in blowing $75 to visit someone else's shop a half hour away and use their 1965 Archer 300 watt soldering gun.

    Also there's people that enjoy using status symbols and people who like making them. I like making them. I have more fun making my CNC mill than actually using it. Once I use it, its just a tool to precision locate and drill and modify heatsinks and a zillion other minor tasks. When I get a 3-d printer its probably going to be a reprap family and 99% of the fun I'll experience will be gathering and assembling and building, once it works and I can squirt stuff out, I think I'll be somewhat bored. So this is another reason I'm not terribly inspired by the idea of joining a space to use their stuff... I like making the stuff, not using someone elses.

    I could teach classes on quite a few subjects and I'd like to take classes on a few subjects (welding, wood finishing, advanced wood joinery techniques) but the problem with creating a space for those is we have an awesome community college 10 minutes north of my house that specializes in those subjects but also have academic classes. I even took a semester of non-credit Japanese about a decade ago, forgot it all but it was a fun time. My wife and I were thinking of visiting but then she started squirting out kids, one after the other, and travel with kids is insane, or it drives me insane. Speaking of kids, most maker/hacker spaces have no answer WRT kids other than keep them away from the matches or whatever. So the entire summer vacation I wouldn't be able to visit a space although I had plenty of basement workshop fun this summer.

    • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:00PM

      by cafebabe (894) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:00PM (#88925) Journal

      You're in a good situation and I suspect that if you didn't already have equipment, you'd be the type of hackerspace member who learns how to use a 3D printer/laser cutter/arc welder, buys your own and then takes a significantly less active rôle or maybe drops out. For less hardcore techies, or for people where space is at a premium, a shared resource is the most cost effective. It is for this reason that I believe the current density and location of libraries is ideal for them to be re-purposed as hackerspaces.

      bunch of noob java programmers trying to learn to solder.

      I try to avoid Java but I've had a solder iron taken away from me at my local hackerspace. I'm safe and competent but, apparently, it is annoying to watch me work so slowly. For reference, it took me about 15 hours to solder 10 DIP chips.

      once it works and I can squirt stuff out

      she started squirting out kids

      I am moderately amused that you refer to your wife and children in the same terms as 3D printing. Perhaps this explains your interest in the 3D printer which is most able to replicate itself?

      most maker/hacker spaces have no answer WRT kids other than keep them away from the matches or whatever.

      Hackerspaces don't tend to be kid-safe. However, it is possible to disconnect most of the dangerous equipment and have a weekend of kid-safe activities. My local hackerspace has educational toys like the old Radio Shack 75-In-1 Electronics Kit []. These are also very helpful for the noobs.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:25PM

        by VLM (445) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:25PM (#88941)

        I thought about it some more and a space thats so large/rich that it could afford 10 different 3-d printers or 5 different milling machines or 5 different SMD rework stations might make substantial economic sense for me, although maybe not a permanent membership. Maybe tool companies should be funding spaces to promote eventual online sales.

        I could also see makerspaces for "just try it out". I want to learn welding. I may actually hate welding once I learn it. That would make using someone elses arc welder a great idea financially. But again, there's an awesome community college 10 minutes away... Which brings up the obvious point that every community college with a machine shop should probably have an allied makerspace. Its an even better operational fit than libraries.

        The kid thing is weird because 20 yrs ago when I didn't have kids I imagine a space looks a lot like my basement looked with stuff left laying out and plugged in because I know better than to do something dumb. I can create a safety culture in my basement that lets my kids hang out in my basement that I don't think a maker space would tolerate. For example I have actual electrician lockout/tagout hardware with locks on the power cable of my table saw... the kids would have to chop off the power cord and splice on a new plug to hurt themselves with that tool, no other way to physically connect electrical power to the saw. I don't think my safety behavior would be tolerated at a hackerspace.

        I also have lexan shields (the bulletproof stuff not the brittle stuff... you've probably seen large sheets of it on mythbusters, its actually pretty cheap in smaller sheets) and that makes machine operation safer, again probably not tolerated at a space.

        A kid safe maker space is an interesting idea that as far as I know has not been implemented. If nothing else I would think their liability insurance would be a lot less.

        I LOL at the self replication, with a bit of help thing. WRT the printer, I'm having philosophical problems with something that claims to print anything not being able to print itself. Just seems wrong to do it any other way, even if its easier to use wood. If joe average could assemble a cutting laser without electrocuting themselves I'd be equally offended at a laser cutter that can't laser cut a copy of itself. Comes from the machinist background, an engine lathe that can't build another engine lathe is a bad engine lathe (or a bad operator), so I can't tolerate a 3-d printer that can't print itself or a laser cutter that can't cut a replica of itself. Just wrong.

        • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:20PM

          by cafebabe (894) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:20PM (#88988) Journal

          Getting sponsorship from companies is known to be difficult for hackerspaces. Even if it is successful, members complain about commercialization [].

          Community colleges may be better for hackerspaces because of the required skills. However, if librarians don't adapt they are very likely to be jobless. I am also concerned about utilization of public buildings.

          I like your level of safety. I know two people who refuse to be board members [] of my local hackerspace and have dropped out due to concerns about the safety-optional culture. The general opinion is that serious accident has been avoided because members tend to use the laser cutter, 3D printer and free WiFi more often than the dangerous tools. Without irony, one of the board refuseniks showed me how to use an arc welder and regarded me as half-trained because I already knew how molten metal flows. Technically, by the rules of the hackerspace, I'm trained to do arc welding without supervision. However, the training was given on the understanding that I know my limits and I'm not stupid enough to do this.

          A kid-safe makerspace would have lower liability insurance. However, I'm not sure if it would offer much more than a good science museum. So, I'm uncertain if it would be financially viable. I think kid-safe days are a good compromise for a hackerspace. If it is combined with a barbeque, a family day out can also be a moderate fund-raiser.

          Regarding self-replication, an early popularization of this topic was described in the Robert Heinlein story Waldo []. A lathe plus other tools are used to make the same set of tools at 1/4 size. These tools are used to construct three-finger robot hands and arms. The robots are then used to make smaller tools and these tools are used to make smaller robots. The canonical set of tools was not given but it should be apparent that a single, self-replicating tool is ambitious. Although it has been possible to replicate manual lathes for hundreds of years, a single, computerized machine would require the least effort and would fulfill the requirements of K. Eric Drexler's Engines Of Creation []. At a more practical scale, a 3D printer which is below the breakeven point has numerous, specialist applications even if it is fiddly and unsuitable for members of the public.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:41PM

      by frojack (1554) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:41PM (#89002) Journal

      Personally, I don't think Libraries are the place for this, any more than the are the place to bring in your car to put an air-lift system, or start welding up your home brew hover craft, or setting up a still to brew your own whiskey.

      This sort of activity is fundamentally opposite of the purpose of a library, and while some libraries in none educated populations may be grasping to retain patronage, the better place is in school or junior college campuses where there is at least a chance of having someone competent around. These spaces will become the tragedy of the commons all over again due to pilfering, destruction, or injuries, but mostly just pilfering.

      Yeah, its all nice and stuff to have your hobby funded by public money, but I'm not convinced ruining libraries is the way to do it. Get your project space funded by Parks and Recreation, or the School district, but leave libraries alone.

      Pretty sure this is an unpopular opinion because "makers" (stupid name) is all the rage right now.

      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:49PM (#89006)

    My local public library offers a 3D printing service and I find it mostly useless. You need to reserve and schedule printer time however due to the ridiculous demand you can only schedule it at least 3 months in advance and print time is limited to under 4 hours during the day and 2 hours at night. If anything it's an excellent tool to teach the netflix generation that you can't always get instant gratification.

    • (Score: 2) by everdred on Wednesday September 03 2014, @07:07PM

      by everdred (110) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @07:07PM (#89033) Journal

      > If anything it's an excellent tool to teach the netflix generation that you can't always get instant gratification.

      And to actually spend time getting your design right before wasting filament.