Director’s Brief – Harnessing the creativity of the community

Creating a participatory space for creativity and education at the library has the potential to fulfill many of the needs and desires of the community and the library. In addition to the place being somewhere for people of all ages to create, learn, and try new things safely, it promotes interaction within the community and between the library and the community. Participants learn by experimentation and from one another, and the library learns more about the community’s interests. The library becomes not just a place to hear or read stories, but a place to share stories and make new stories within the community. Creative spaces can be anything from low-cost interactive community art activities to technological trial-and-error learning centers, and anything in between. By blending several trends in library participatory spaces, we can facilitate hands-on learning and play for all ages.

Please read the full brief, below:

6 Responses

  1. You make a good point about low-cost makerspaces being more flexible than those with equipment with high price points such as 3D printers and music recording tools. It was interesting to see the budget for the Mix! We do something similar at my library (Sacramento Public), but it didn’t cost nearly as much. The biggest cost factor is staffing the space and staff time devoted to creating programming. That’s another drawback, in my mind. Low-cost makerspaces seem to have more advantages: they are more flexible to community needs, they offer more participatory engagement,, and they don’t require as much staff time. Great post!

    • @jenellheimbach Thank you Jenell! One thing that I didn’t include in my brief because I couldn’t verify it was that I heard that the library had purchased some large machine, a CNC machine I believe, for The Mix, but it turned out that the floor wasn’t rated to bear such a machine (probably along with the other machines) so the machine had to be left abandoned in the basement. This is why I think it is important to not jump directly to buying the shiny, expensive, popular things without really planning how they will benefit the library users. Thank you for your comment!

        • CNC stands for computer numerical control, and it’s usually a computerized machining device for making parts. 3D printers are also often controlled by CNC, but often when I’ve heard “CNC” used it’s for something like a milling machine, that can sculpt a piece of material into a shape by following the design that is programmed into it. So you could come up with a 3D model of something, load that into the CNC along with a block of plastic or wax or metal, and the machine will carve the block down to the shape of the model. I think there are smaller sized machines but often they’re pretty big.

  2. I think my favorite kind of participatory space I read about this semester was the Studio idea where people could rent studios in the library to record whatever they wanted, but I also value and appreciate more community-driven spaces like the Idea Box and was glad to see someone write about creative community spaces. I was also probably more shocked than I should have been to see the high percentage of people that see the library as a space that sparks creativity! It really shows how wildly LIS has transformed and evolved from traditional library spaces.

  3. David, I enjoyed reading your Director’s Brief. It gave me so many ideas!
    I appreciate the broad flexibility in your proposal. I was wondering as shelter in place continues, if this sentiment:
    “According to a 2016 survey, some of the most important services that libraries provide to their communities are a safe place, education for all ages, sparks of creativity, and
    information about new technologies” (Horrigan, 2016).
    could be translated into an online creative space. I kept considering this as I read. I also was recalling how IDEO and Stanford’s D-school offer HiLo (high tech, low cost) approaches to innovation. Post it notes and tables on wheels. cardboard prototypes and an empty space make room for much creativity to occur.

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