Monday, January 27, 2014

Are the knitters in your library treated like makers?

I have been thinking about how libraries are implementing maker spaces, and there are many exciting ones.  This has started me thinking about what makers are already in libraries. Michelle Cooper, Amy Koester and Justin Hoenke have done and excellent presentation showing opportunities for library services for younger people in the maker environment.  This builds on the great work which had done in libraries working on craft and maker ideas.  This is one group of makers already being (at least partly) catered for in many libraries. 

Knitting and crochet groups are active in many libraries.  Some libraries include knitting and crochet as maker programs, as this presentation by Heather Braum, Dan Alexander and Erin Downey shows. Hailey Public Library has promotions, (also on their website) which make knitting and and crochet available in their library as maker activities.

As Cory Doctorow says "Makerspaces do a very good job of being welcoming to people who are of a technical bent. But they have yet to figure out a way of sorting out how to appeal to nontraditional audiences. I think that [librarians should be] actively pursuing ways to help people who are from nontraditional audiences in your hackerspaces, find the thing that they need to do and show them how to do it".  This description fits with how the Hailey Public Library is providing this service.

Knitting and crochet require a technical bent - the technology looks different that is all.  The Victoria and Albert Museum have fibre work included in their Power of Making.

The work which has been done on the coral reef  "created and curated by Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring" is a great maker example.  You can crochet your own coal reef.  Crochet is a really effective way of demonstrating parabolic planes (see this article by David W Henderson and  Daina Taimina).  This is very serious maths which is going on here.  The Institute for Figuring has many more examples you can explore, and this BBC post is also helpful showing how these formats are great for illustrating mathematical ideas.

Quilting is another great maker opportunity.

What this post is really about is slightly changing how some of these groups are treated in the library.  They all use technology.  Knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn are all technology - and with a low cost entry point.  Different people in the community and library will have the skills to be able to train people in these.  They all have amazing creative outcomes (or can be used for important creative production like the Wrap with love project).  There is graffiti knitting, and exciting collaborations.  The skills to knit a square can lead to lots of possibilities.  Knitting a square, or many squares which are needed for the wrap with love blankets, are still exciting possibilities.  Knitting does not need reinvention, there have been amazing things knitted through the ages 

There are exciting possibilities for connecting with local groups like lace makers and  people who make fly fishing lures.  See who you have in your area.

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