Common Libraries meet ‘Shakers and Makers’ in Stockton-on-Tees

Mark Freeman and Emma TennantAt Stockton Central Library, staff organized for a range of local making organisations to take over much of the ground floor on a ‘show and tell’ basis to coincide with a celebration event to launch the recently regenerated High Street back in March 2015.

Amongst those represented were the Women’s Institute, North Yorkshire Calligraphers and Preston Park Museums and Grounds. Visitors could also try their hand at digital illustration and patchwork.

The combination of significant footfall to the high-street and eye-catching publicity throughout the library building succeeded in attracting people away from competing activities. And, once in situe, library users were encouraged to visit a dedicated stand where they were invited to take a look at our Maker Instruction Sets and Kits, and consider what knowledge and know-how they might like to contribute in future.

Stockton benefits from a range of publicly managed facilities which already support hacking and making as well as creative start-ups – including a museum with functioning forge and a dedicated business centre. So, staff there were eager to understand the scope for the library to play its part in something of a ‘campus-based’ approach to establishing a Common Library from the outset (i.e. to explore an ‘affiliation’ or ‘partnership’ model, rather than consider integration of a makerspace within the library itself).

North Yorkshire Calligraphers

There was interest expressed on the day from organisations in need of appropriate space for undertaking group activities, as well as calls to support additional expert input to accommodate growing interest in some arts and crafts. Some people also indicated that they would be able/willing to share their knowledge with others. However, whilst the event proved popular, further (and, different) work is needed going forward, if the aspiration is for the library to move beyond the sharing of local knowledge and know-how to support its publication, loan and/or sale is to be realised in future.

Libraries and Heritage Services Manager, Mark Freeman, talks about Common Libraries and the library service in Stockton-on-Tees:

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