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On the Origins of St Botolph’s Library-Hack-Makerspace

In Where Good Ideas Come From [2010], Steven Johnson describes seven patterns of innovation: the adjacent possible, liquid networks, the slow hunch, serendipity, error, exaptation (a shift in the function of a trait during evolution) and platform building. Whether he’s describing the limitations imposed upon our thinking by the sheer number and range of ideas we encounter over time, the dense and diverse social networks in our cities that lend speed and impetus to innovation, or the importance of trial, error and luck – his patterns resonate with us as we move to explain the origins of our ‘library-hack-maker’ space in St Botolph’s, Colchester.

It is important to explain why we are now doing what we are doing – how we are ‘envisioning the library of the future from the ground up’ – because government and key stakeholders like the Carnegie UK Trust are engaged in parallel activities, as the value of our public libraries is called into question against a backdrop of austerity and digital disruption, and we ‘the users’ would wish to become fully-fledged ‘contributors’ to our libraries going forward. So, this account of our thinking and doing process over a number of years is intended to serve as a first contribution to St Botolph’s Give-Get Library – it goes without saying that we are incredibly grateful to all concerned.

Download On the Origins of St Botolph’s

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