The 6 February 2013 article from American Libraries, traces maker spaces back to 1873 in the USA (you can read the article here). I think it goes much further back, and part of that is my slightly different interpretation of maker spaces. I think examples like the Book of Kells, and the Lindisfarne Gospels show solid maker stock, and there are much earlier ones too. Yes, these books were made by monks, but they were made using relevant technology skills paired with imagination. They are works of art, but they are also works of technology. This blog post from the British Library provides some other, useful examples.
I think that libraries as maker spaces have a solid history, admittedly looking a bit different to much of the current interpretation. Effective libraries have been making community, as they connect people together who may not know each other but may connect over story time, reading groups, or other shared programs. People may even connect over shared (or slightly different) research. I think much of the work of the digital humanities fits solidly in maker space - as an inspirational way for us to think about how library materials, community and staff skills can connect, and can make.
Libraries are critical for making ideas happen in the minds of clients as they are to access materials, and assist people in research. The British Library has a Pinterest board called Made with the BL highlighting how people have used the services and collections of the library to make things happen. A recent post by an ABC Open producer also describes the connection of libraries and making things. This recent editorial about libraries as community assets also skirts around this idea.
Libraries are also makers of sense and order - when the cataloguing goes well. Excellent or great cataloguing enables findability, facilitating the community to make their own connections between materials, and enabling staff to be more effective too. Inadequate or incompetent cataloging loses material and makes connections hard, or even impossible to make. Shared catalogues like Trove are also important as they facilitate making connections between different collections and formats. This is why it is critical for all Australian libraries to participate in Trove (and as many other organisations with collections too).
Libraries have histories of being proactive makers of ideas, research and community through how oral histories are recorded and other local studies material collected or created/co-created. Doing our bit is a great example of this maker research approach. Europeana is another excellent example. They bring collections together enabling people to more readily make connections, and explore ideas. Their current app, game or website creative challenge is solid and exciting maker space. The work of Bayerische Staatsbibliothek - Bavarian State Library with their image search is also in the maker continuum as they enable people to make connections based on shape of image rather than typed search terms.
So you can see that these ideas are wandering towards libraries as makers of connections with the community. Connecting library and community skills, and developing/expanding both, leading the libraries contributing to being makers of community (in a collaborative and co-creative way). Making objects can be part of this, just as making research and ideas can be.
Some of the ideas at the #ylibrary talk last week at the State Library of Queensland seem to be in the same area of discussion, at least from the tweets. This is my interpretation and may not be the intention of the tweeters/speakers (so blame me not them).
The final tweet seems to reflect what I am writing here. The "creating stuff" / making stuff can be ideas, objects, community, connections, inspiration, and much more.
This also implicitly highlights that library workers should enjoy learning many new skills for their entire working lives, being curious, and seeking to make connections which enhance the community and the collections, services and programs. Also that working together is critical for this to be effective and sustainable.
I am looking to explore how libraries are tying maker space concepts to ideas of reference and information services.
This recent presentation from Lorcan Dempsey has ideas in this sphere as well - in particular look at slide 26.