By Carl Dorney, Principal Librarian Information, Advice and Digital Services – Northamptonshire Library and Information Service
Northamptonshire Libraries and Information Service has aspirations to develop and engage our local communities, to bring together creative and innovative personalities through a ‘Hack the Library’ event, to understand what local people know and what knowledge, skills and information they might want to share with one other. Libraries are great connectors of individuals and communities, and we want to be a catalyst for creativity and innovation within the county.
Our Hack the Library event will serve as a highly interactive consultation exercise. We will invite broad-ranging interest groups and aim to narrow the focus by gathering information to enable us to utilise our space in the future on top of tangible knowledge.
One of our ultimate goals is to have a significant socio-economic impact, for example by encouraging creative individuals to explore their entrepreneurial potential or to bring people to do something fun and different and, with that, help tackle social exclusion. This prototyping project integrates well with existing projects such as our ‘Get Involved Hub’ which is a Libraries initiative that works as a jobs brokerage service for volunteers specifically. We intend to launch these ideas and intertwine them to support each other.
We feel our goals can be realised by encouraging the local community in Northampton to showcase their creative talent (regardless of whether their interests are in arts, craft, technology, etc.) at the Central Library. This project is as much about passion as it is about knowledge and enabling people to feel like they have something to teach/make/contribute can further cement the sense of community.
To enable our network of Libraries to become places our communities want to visit to meet people, learn, socialise and collaborate, as well as places for people to make projects a reality or help others with theirs, we first need to map what local people know. We intend to achieve this by using the Hack the Library event, with the assistance of Common Libraries, as a consultation style event with a taster of things the end goal can look like – for example, using drawing upon links with former NortHACKton members and NottingHACK to provide a laser cutter for public use.
We are conscious of not second guessing what the community would like to do within our libraries, and this is why we are adopting more of a “fact finding” approach. While this is useful for obtaining information at the beginning of our journey to encourage the Maker/Hacker movement in Northamptonshire, it is also vital to ensure that we evolve our offering as our community grows and changes as well.
We hope that this will go some way to ensure the longevity of encouraging the Maker/Hacker Movement in the county.