Director’s Brief – The Co-Lab

Sacramento Public Library Makerspace – 3D Printing Program
Image Credit: Jenell Heimbach (2020)

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.

6 Thoughts.

  1. Hi, Jenell,
    I love that idea of the I Street Press. My daughter loves writing stories but she always ends up writing on some scratch paper and pages are often lost. I think this is a service we would definitely use to preserve those memories. I want to go to the Co-Lab!

    • @kvaldez5, yes! Children’s writing has value, as well! This is something that is underused in our I Street Press. We get a lot of use from retirees but not from youth or younger adults. I think that’s a shame. How inspiring would that be for your daughter and other young people!

      The problem is not entirely that it is not marketed appropriately, it’s just that we don’t have the staffing to handle more people. We have a librarian who runs it, a few shelvers who print the materials and library assistants who work one hour, four days per week cutting and binding the books. The I Street Press, in particular, is resource intensive. I think that’s the beauty of participatory services, though; it is really a community endeavor.

      • I wonder if this is something that you could get volunteers for to help support the staff. Maybe teachers who are off during the summer or high school seniors who would like volunteer hours for college applications.

        • Volunteers are difficult, because the cutting and binding equipment is dangerous and a liability. But I am trying to think of other ways to make the program less staff intensive. And maybe volunteers could work in other capacities. Thanks for encouraging me to keep considering it.

  2. Jenell, I really enjoyed the layout of this brief and the emphasis on community engagement. I love the I Street Press program, I think that’s really important to promote self-publishing which in turn gets more people excited about writing.

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