Libraries and makerspaces join up in DC, Chicago


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Cory: you may already know this since you’re working with the San Francisco Public Library this summer, but the new teen center* they’re building at the main branch will also include a (modest) maker lab. Good times!

*Note to all: I am in the process of working with local youth to name and brand this center and we could seriously use some good names that haven’t been done to death. Suggestions welcome!


Sounds like someone needs to create a new topic on BBS for said naming…


Good idea, just did that.

At least “people viewing porn on library computers” will soon be replaced by “people milling gun parts on library CNC machines” as the outrage du jour.

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Hi, I am a librarian who gets to work in the makerspace a few days a week.

Here is a link to our blog. Here is another site with extensive info about our hardware, the software we use and many of the projects we are developing to teach classes on.

In answer to the inevitable gun comment, staff do the final step of sending files to the machines for fabrication, and we won’t print weapons.

I am going to print out Jackhammer Jill and display her in the space, as I have been a reader of Boing Boing since it was a paper zine, and also really enjoyed when Cory did a reading from Little Brother at CPL a few years ago.

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That’s sad to hear about plans to limit use of the machines based on staff whims. Is a rod a weapon? A box with a sharp edge?

It really places an undue burden on employees, too - how would you expect them to recognize internal gun parts, for instance? They just look like, well - parts. Absent a barrel or a trigger, good luck telling gun parts from parking meter parts.

Makes about as much sense to me as a library refusing to carry books that might teach people how to hurt others.

EDIT: Or here’s one - what would happen if someone wanted to use the library’s machines to make some lock picks?

I think it would be much more sad if the lab were shut down by the “outrage du jour” that you envisioned above.

If I don’t see a spring loaded hammer and firing pin, or striker; and a barrel, as far as I’m concerned it isn’t a functional gun. Thanks to your warning I will be on the lookout for suspicious characters printing out parking meter parts, though :wink:

One of our local allies is Pumping Station One, a subscription based hackerspace. The first time I ever went there, long before the CPL maker lab was even in the planning stages, was to take my daughter to a lock picking class.

So lock picks would be fine, except that the Makerbot’s PLA plastic is almost certainly too brittle, and the laser cutter wouldn’t cut a heavy enough gauge of steel. As Librarians we like to refer people to other sources if we don’t have what they need, so after giving people a first taste of the possibilities we will be sending many of them to Pumping Station One, to make things we can’t, like lock picks.


OK, fair enough - I’m dialing-down my outrage.

Those parking meter people are serious, though - I don’t know exactly why the parking meter page was removed from the otherwise-awesome book The Way Things Work, but I have my conspiracy theories…

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I’d love for the libraries in the Bay Area to do this if they weren’t cutting programs and threatening to shut down libraries. I don’t know where these other libraries got the money to do this.

But milling gun parts on a CNC takes actual skill and ability to use the tools.

Oh, boy. johnchris, as a fellow librarian, please don’t take this as a putdown when I say that you desperately need to educate yourself on this. All of those parts are legal to buy off-the-shelf without a license; the part of a semiautomatic rifle that, legally, is the rifle (i.e. the thing that you need a special license in order to own) is called the lower receiver, and a working one can be and has been printed on a 3D printer. I think that you want to familiarize yourself on what they look like so that someone won’t just give you a file that’s labeled “Abstract Sculpture #117” and have you print it off.

Looked at the pix linked to, will be on alert for similar stuff

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