Cultural Community Solutions Ltd are one of five local authorities participating in Locality’s programme to look at income generation potential in public libraries, as well as one of the Enterprising Libraries cohort funded by DCLG and Arts Council England. Related to both, CCS are scoping Creative Work Spaces in their libraries in the four London boroughs where they manage library services on behalf of the local authorities, Croydon, Ealing Harrow and Hounslow. In terms of creative backgrounds, the boroughs vary enormously, but Ealing has a long history with film-making and Harrow has a varied history – including the Kodak factory, the Whitefriar’s glass factory, and the Hamilton’s paint factory. So, we’ve a rich heritage to build on and, so far, stakeholder engagement is going really well in all four boroughs. We’ve met with colleagues from further education, higher education, and adult education as well as robotics companies, third sector agencies and economic development teams. We’ve also begun to forge links with other relevant Meetups such as Tech City in Croydon. Another key stakeholder we’re talking to is EHWLC Thinglab, because it already has its own maker space – so, we’re keen not to duplicate effort and to explore what scope there may be to network our creative work spaces in future.
The reaction is very positive as we seek to find creative and self-sustaining ways of using library space. We’ve identified the spaces where we want to pilot, and the next step is to engage the community in each borough to gauge their interest in co-creating creative work spaces with us; i.e. what they might like to use it for; what time of day they might like to use it in, etc. We expect each to develop its own identity and our hope is that a community will grow up around them such that we can support them to take ownership of their future shape and scope.
We have our first Meetup in Ealing on 10th February – this space in Northolt will be supported by the London Borough of Ealing which has allocated some initial funding to enable the purchase of tools/technology. At the Meetups we hope to find out what the community would like to do with the spaces and also chat with them about the Maker Instruction Sets from the Common Libraries team to gauge whether they would like to experiment with their use, make other kits and also whether they think people would purchase full Maker Kits from the libraries.
A series of free workshops to raise awareness are also being planned, although a modest charge will be levied for other specialist events (including, ‘how to build a PC’ and ‘an introduction to robotics’) to sustain this programme of activity into the future.