Essex County Council has 74 libraries serving a population of 1.4 million people. Each library is unique, serving neighbourhoods as varied as urban New Towns and rural villages. Against stiff (but deeply collegiate!) competition, I’m delighted that on 7th March the first ‘Hack the Library’ in Essex will happen in my home library, Mersea. Mersea is an island community, sitting off the coast of Essex ten miles or so from Colchester. The North Sea has shaped the island figuratively and literally. For the bibliophiles amongst you, it is the backdrop to the classic Victorian novel Mehalah by Sabine Baring-Gould. For me, it’s a lovely place to work, it has a real sense of community, and it’s a great location from which to run a hack.
It’s also special because our local community of makers from down the road in Colchester’s Waiting Room have created some wonderful Maker Kits – a real inspiration that has fired my own imagination and will, I hope, provoke others to make and create as well.
What’s more, the Maker Kits offer a real opportunity to expand the public and professional appreciation of what a library can do – taking the library’s traditional mission of increasing and sharing knowledge and adapting it to address the different tools, methods and skills people want to learn today.
Without giving too much away (to get the most out of the hack, you really should come along!) the 7th March will see three distinct making activities – creating seed bombs to help sustain local bee populations; a hand lettering workshop; and listening to and participating in a music session to round off the day. It’s an eclectic mix, but the best libraries are always full of contrasts, and I’m lucky that we’ve got local people with these skills and talents who are willing and able to share.
Mersea Library, like all Essex libraries – and indeed like libraries across the globe – has a mission to educate and share knowledge. The National Library Science Experiment is a great opportunity to focus anew on this, whilst reconsidering how libraries can best share knowledge – whether that be via books, online, or through face-to-face human relationships.
Photgraphic Credit: Andreas Photography (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)