Joe, and really everyone, I think this is all a question of scope, scale
and community needs/demands.
I absolutely think creative/generative/participatory spaces belong in
I firmly believe that the public library of the future is as much about
access to tools as it about access to media, especially as we read about
the "creative economy" and watch art, music, and shop programs get dropped
in public schools.
I have no intention of bringing welders into the library for the liability
reasons you cite.
I seek to partner with other community organizations that can provide these
services.... this is why I was asking if academic libraries might have
similar partnerships with academic departments.
And that said,
There are many, many 'maker' activities public libraries already support
and more we can expand to support.
(think craft time in the kids room)
Whether it is soldering, graphic design software, or making sock puppets,
the public library is as much about these informal learning experiences as
it is about access to Grisham, Shakespeare and JK Rowling.
On Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 1:03 PM, Joe Hourcle
<[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> On Aug 27, 2012, at 9:44 AM, BWS Johnson wrote:
> > Salvete!
> > Can't. Resist. Bait. Batman.
> >> Can anyone on the list help clarify for me why, in an academic setting,
> >> this kind of equipment and facility isn't part of a laboratory in an
> >> academic department?
> > I'd say that I hate to play devil's advocate, but that would be a
> patent misrepresentation of material fact.
> > Conversely, could you please tell us why you think it *shouldn't* be
> at the Library?
> I can think of one reason they shouldn't be *anywhere*: liability.
> When I was working on my undergrad, in civil engineering, the university's
> science and engineering school had their own machine shop.
> Officially, you were only supposed to use it if you were a grad student,
> or supervised by a grad student.
> Yet, there were a number of us (the undergrad population) who had more
> experience than the grad students. (I had done a couple years of shop
> class during high school, one of the other students had learned from his
> father who worked in the trade, another was going back to school after
> having been a professional machinist for years, etc.).
> So well, I know at least two of us would go down and use the shop without
> supervision. (and in a few cases, all alone, which is another violation
> when you're working at 1am and there's no one to call for medical
> assistance should something go really, really wrong).
> And in some cases, we'd teach the grad students who were doing stuff wrong
> (trying to take off too much material in a pass, using the incorrect tools,
> etc. But I made just as many mistakes. (when you're in a true machine
> shop, and there's two different blades for the bandsaw with different TPI,
> it's not that one's for metal and one's for wood ... as they don't do wood
> cutting there ... but I must've broken and re-welded the blade a half dozen
> times and gone through a quart of cutting fluid to make only a few cuts, as
> I didn't realize that I should've been using the lower TPI blade for
> cutting aluminum)
> I admit I don't know enough about these 'maker spaces' ... I assume
> there'd have to be some training / certification before using the
> equipment. The other option would be to treat it more like a print shop,
> where someone drops off their item to be printed, and then comes back to
> pick it up after the job's been run.
> And it's possible that you're using less dangerous equipment. (eg, when
> in high school, my senior year we got a new principal who required that all
> teachers wear ties ... including the shop teachers. Have you ever seen
> what happens when a tie gets caught in a lathe or a printing press? He's
> lucky the teachers were experienced, as a simple mistake could've killed
> But even something as simple as a polishing/grinding wheel could be a
> hazard to both the person using it and anyone around them. (I remember one
> of my high school shop teachers not happy that I was so aggressive when
> grinding down some steel, as I was spraying sparks near his desk ... which
> could've started a fire)
> ... so the whole issue of making sure that no one gets injured / killed /
> damages others is one of the liability issues, but I also remember when I
> worked for the university computer lab, we had a scanner that you could
> sign up to use. One day, one of the university police saw what one of the
> students was doing, and insisted that we were allowing students to make
> fake IDs. (the student in question had scanned in a CD cover, which was a
> distorted drivers license looking thing ... if he was trying to make a fake
> ID, you'd think he'd have started from a genuine ID card)
> As we've now got people who are printing gun receivers, there's a real
> possibility that people could be printing stuff that might be in violation
> of the law. (I won't get into the issue of if it's a stupid law or not ...
> this is something the legal department needs to weigh in on). And
> conversely, if you're a public institution and you censor what people are
> allowed to make, then you get into first amendment issues.
> On a completely unrelated note, when I first saw the question about
> libraries & maker spaces, I was thinking in the context of public
> libraries, and thought the idea was pretty strange. I see a much better
> fit for academic libraries, but I'm still not 100% sold on it. In part, I
> know that it's already possible to get a lot of stuff 'made' at most
> universities, but you risk treading on certain trade's toes, which could
> piss off the unions. Eg, we had a sign shop who had some CNC cutters for
> sheet goods (this was the mid 1990s), carpenters and such under the
> building maintenance, large scale printing and book binding through the
> university graphics department (they later outsourced the larger jobs, got
> rid of the binding equipment).
> I could see the equipment being of use to these groups, but I don't know
> that they'd be happy if their lack of control over being able to make money
> by charging for their services would go over well.
> I would assume that if you were to move forward with this, that you'd need
> to identify the groups that could make use of it, how it might affect other
> groups (eg, those people that charged for performing these services), and
> try to get buy-in from all communities. You don't need a union picket line
> popping up because they think you're trying to take their jobs.*
> * I'm generally pro-union, but I'm still bitter about an incident where I
> had a couple of hours of my time wasted at the San Francisco Moscone
> Center, as a I needed our crate to pack up monitors, and I got it 1/2 way
> out of their storage area before someone noticed me ... and he spent more
> time giving me a lecture about how that was someone else's job (as if my
> intention was union busting), when he could've just said they wanted to get
> the carpet up first before rolling crates around ... then I had to sit
> around for another hour, because he insisted on rolling my crate all the
> way back to where it was ... and finally, he noticed me getting annoyed, so
> he called in someone to deliver the crate, so they brought in someone with
> a forklift to move it the 30-odd yards when it had its own damned wheels
> and if I'd have gone under the curtain, it would've only had to go 5 yards)
> [and um ... insert standard disclaimer about how I'm not speaking for my
> employer, etc.]
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