Is it time to retool libraries?

I’m reading the latest issue of Make Magazine online. Yes, I still get the dead tree edition too but I’m considering dropping that and just going all electronic. And yes, I am getting a Kindle Fire though I have the Kindle app on my phone. It’s just the bigger screen would be nice on the Fire.

But anyhow in this edition of Make on pages 28-29 there’s an article title “Is it Time to Retool Public Libraries as TechShops” by Phillip Torrone.

And as I look at my city I see elements of the things mentioned in Torrone’s article. Yes, little Providence has a hacker space in the Brain Tank which is also where DC401 meets.

We have the Steel Yard where you can pay money to take courses on how to weld things, make things, ceramics. Just a lot fo things to learn!

We have AS220 for performance arts which is where Providence Geeks meets.

Brain Tank is interesting. I may want to get a membership there because they have all the cool tools.

And DC401, I’m almost always there because quite frankly the topics of discussion are interesting as hell, and the hardware projects are fun.

Haven’t been to Providence Geeks in some time and I think it was well summed up at the last DC401 meet up. It seems the event is being overtaken by the corporate lackeys. I also noted a high number of unemployed there too.

I do want to take some classes at Steel Yard though, yes it looks pricey but some of them run for several weeks so you’re really learning it. I mostly want to learn the welding and foundry skills but the glass casting and fusing fascinates me too. I wonder if I can get educational creds for this stuff?

the fact that we have all this in our little city fascinates me. I think a lot of it stems from AS220 and even they have a nice little hackerspace in there.

But getting back to the article. Maybe our public libraries should embrace the hackerspace mentality. Maybe even a Fab Lab at the Central library in downtown Providence. That would be, in a two words, fucking sweet!

And it would help the sagging libraries too. With city budgets being cut, libraries need to find new ways to prop up their huge collections because those too have value. The libraries need to become value added places. So I say to you Providence Public Library (Not owned by the city mind you!), think about it. You have the facilities that could be converted into a Fab Lab.

Even the branch libraries now run by a different group could embrace parts of this, maybe act as feeders by introducing some of the tech to youngsters.

I’m pretty sure there are grants out there that would cover the costs. It is after all, educational.

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