What makes libraries unique institutions is their focus on equity: the library is for everybody. Resources and learning are accessible. Additionally, there has been a movement in the larger culture to make creating and making more accessible. The internet was a key element in the decentralization of knowledge production. It allowed people to share without having to go through publishing gatekeepers, and it allowed for the two-way exchange of information. Regarding 3D printing, what was once a million-dollar device became a desktop model in the early 2000s when old patents started expiring (Hornick, 2016). In 2006 the first Maker Faire started in San Mateo (Make, n.d.). That same year, the first Espresso Book Machine was installed at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. It gave people the power to self-publish their books without having to be accepted by a publisher. All these elements, the internet, making and self-publishing made it easy for anyone to create content.
And that is how they have entered the realm of the public library. Not only are libraries places where you can retrieve and consume information, they are becoming places where you can create information and content. It is purposeful that I use the term “becoming”. It is a process to figure out how these elements fit in to library services and programs, to determine what staff need to know and where the knowledge gaps are and to figure out how to do so within budgetary and time constraints. These are the barriers that libraries face. I propose that participatory services, such as The Co-Lab, are the answer.