GUEST POST: Nikita Thanki – the Community in Northampton, Central Library and Aspirations as Lead for the Project

By Nikita Thanki, Work and Business Programme Coordinator – Northamptonshire Library and Information Service

The maker philosophy is to try, to discuss, to share, to innovate, to fail, to try again, to succeed. Doing something on your own at times can be uncertain, but when you make it a shared experience you have the ability to evolve your idea into something better.

There certainly is a need in the community to further encourage the maker movement – past groups such as NortHACKton have been in place but are no longer meeting. The people and the skills are here but the question is: are they getting together? We, as a service, know we can utilise our network of spaces to enable this more than we are already. We want to push our current activities further, we want to offer the opportunity to learn more new skills and innovate in terms of how these skills are taught.

The concept of learning while doing is not new, but is perhaps not a priority for most people going about their daily lives. Everyone has the ability to make things, everyone gets 24 hours in their day, we want to suggest doing something unusual from the routine. We want to offer the opportunity to meet other amateurs and enthusiasts, and on top of that, if you can impart your skills, knowledge or resources about whatever it is you have an interest in, you could find you also benefit from increased confidence in your skills.

The additional confidence can empower a person to potentially become more entrepreneurial; this is where we link in our more corporate objectives around economic wellbeing and the Library Service’s Business Start Up support: MakerKits are the next organic step in this project, and something we will support our community to develop. This is how we intend to encourage people taking part in the Maker/Hacker events to think about what they can do in a more commercial way. We want to find the curious, enthusiastic amateur inventors who, with the right support, can spark whole new creative businesses.

My own objective for the ‘Hack the Library’ event on Saturday 14th March 2015 is to collate as much information from those in attendance as possible, but the event will comprise of creative people who can give as well as get a taster of things to make and do. Alongside this, there will be various activities which will require participation and contribution – for example, we intend to set up a knowledge mood board, which will show us what people can do and where they are from. We need to be able to map the local knowledge, then use this understanding to cater to their needs, in terms of space and eventually equipment.

We also want to introduce the idea of “open source“. That’s not to say people can’t profit from passing on their knowledge, but to circulate information and make it accessible. This is a message imparted by Common Libraries and one that we feel is imperative to establish a community-led workspace in libraries.

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