When I first moved to Brooklyn, I ended up in East Williamsburg in a shared apartment with a bartender and a photographer. Down the street from this particular location was 3rd Ward, an artist space that held classes and workshops.
3rd Ward offered a lot of amenities that are difficult for artists and creators to procure in Brooklyn: space. Spaces and classes were driven by membership fees. By being a member, one could come in and use a woodworking area or a computer lab. It gave many folks an opportunity to keep tools and materials. However, the membership and class fees were very expensive in my opinion, but it had to be. There was no way a space providing many opportunities, either personal or business, didn’t come with a hefty price tag.
Now, the space has been shut down.There’s a great quote the building’s broker:
“Everyone is devoted to the space, everyone is devoted to the maker movement, in general,” he said. “There’s a really raw entrepreneurial spirit—I think everyone’s trying to figure out how can we band together and make this work.”
Which immediately made me think of libraries. ALA’s recent conference focused on makerspaces and how the library space can be re-branded in offering 3D printers and soldering kits to students and patrons. There is no way that any library could fill the role of 3rd Ward. However, I think a lot libraries, especially in urban areas, can learn the maker movement. Libraries are spaces for knowledge, but they can also facilitate spaces for creation as well. We’ve seen it already through digital labs in college and public libraries, where students and patrons can create their own blogs, podcasts, videos, and edit their own pictures. I think that we’re not that far off from going beyond makerspaces and having full-fledged work spaces for art, woodworking, and metal welding.
The next step is the space. Maybe libraries can take over abandoned office parks and turn those areas into libraries?