Thanks goes out to all of you who are helping collect data, by completing our makerspace survey or working on your public library surveys. I know surveys sometimes can be a chore and/or a bore, so here’s to you for helping us in that regard. Recently, the Dude has been reflecting on the monotonous and repetitive nature of daily life (how’s that for a transition?). Between periods of boredom and emotional responses from other humans analogous to something out of the Twilight Zone, there is this notion of balance in life. Speaking of which, isn’t that a concept that leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth? Balance, that is. It implies that we joggle all these sets of circumstances in our lives, and one circumstance seems to be necessary in order to obtain the other. The implication is that the monotonous work feeds the ability for leisure (or at least less monotonous work). The Dude sees this monotony almost every day, when encountering the same strangers in the same places doing the same things (that’s the Twilight Zone reference, but maybe Black Mirror is more appropriate since technology is often a part of it). Well, the Dude says toss balance out in the toter. Change your line of thought so that it is no longer necessary. But before you do so, know that once in a while, something or someone appears that changes the game, surprises you, and perhaps does not completely eradicate the monotonous feelings but somehow adds some meaning, passion, or purpose. Make sure that if that happens, you don’t miss it. Irish poet John O’Donohue (Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong) aptly sums part of this up:
“We live in a world that responds to our longing; it is a place where the echoes always return, even if sometimes slowly… The hunger to belong is at the heart of our nature. Cut off from others, we atrophy and turn in on ourselves. The sense of belonging is the natural balance of our lives… There is some innocent childlike side to the human heart that is always deeply hurt when we are excluded… When we become isolated, we are prone to being damaged; our minds lose their flexibility and natural kindness; we become vulnerable to fear and negativity.”
If you read that again, you’ll notice that this has the potential to tie into our notion of the library makerspace (although admittedly the Dude was thinking of something more along personal lines), or if you prefer, just scratch your head and move on. But since this blog should (at least in theory) have even a slight applicability towards something library related, let’s take a crack at it.
In response to the makerspace survey, some of you indicated that you were intrigued by the notion but either had limited experience with it or had no experience at all with the term. Well, fear not because that term captures many things (keep reading for more detailed information). Common terms for makerspaces often include hackerspaces, design centers, community collaboration areas, workshops, innovation space, and (the Dude’s favorite to date) creation stations (it conjures up a nostalgic feeling similar to that of Conjunction Junction, and the Dude has an affinity for nostalgic things). The common thread is that the space (often dedicated solely for such a purpose) offers people the ability (either individually or collectively) to come together and create something. Spaces often include all kinds of things or tools to create, and the sky is the limit on what might be offered. The survey contained some of the more common things that libraries, educational institutions, or communities might offer. Collaboration is, however, often an essential part of these spaces, as knowledge might be shared or ideas built upon during the creative process. And it makes sense for libraries to be involved with offering these things and programs. Libraries, in addition to being what one might call anchor institutions in communities (that’s a fancy way of saying they have been around for a long time and have always been and will continue to be there), are facilitators of the free exchange of knowledge and ideas. The makerspace embodies this notion.
Now back to O’Donohue. For the record, these feelings of monotony don’t permeate or consume a huge amount of my time, but they do exist. When we talk about a lot of these things, the notion of confidence comes into play. Now, I’ve blogged before about creative confidence, and that certainly is important. In the library sense, people who come together to collaborate on things (like in a makerspace) certainly need an amount of creative confidence in order to exchange ideas and build on someone else’s ideas. But I’m talking about confidence that gets a person in the door, or gets them to look someone else in the eye, or say hello. To a large and often underappreciated degree, this involves vulnerability, and that may be the topic of discussion on another day. Photo upper right is of the Metz Beer bottling plant, courtesy of Nebraska Memories. Shaka.