I respect the people at Make Magazine quite a bit. I may not always be skilled enough to replicate their impressive DIY instructions, but they make me want to improve those skills and tend to have unique perspectives on fixing problems.
So when one of their writers speculates at length about the future of public libraries, I stop and listen.
That piece provides an interesting option – can libraries be retooled as public-access techshops? We’re lucky enough to have a techshop locally here in the Triangle. The basic idea is that members have access to a large variety of tools, from hammers on up to laser cutters and 3d printers. I’ve toured the space before, and it completely makes me want to build things. I have a 2 month membership credit waiting to be used, and what keeps stopping me is that I simply can’t decide what to work on. Too many options!
I don’t know if converting public libraries to the techshop (or similar) model is viable – I’m especially concerned as to whether a tax base would support a library concept that doesn’t involve books – but this article makes me wish I worked in a public library so I could find out.
[As a side note, the concept makes excellent further reading to go with Eli Neiburger’s recent “Libraries are screwed” talks (1,2). ]