Thursday, 15 January 2015

Turn your library into a community platform - join a National Library Science Experiment














Tap into the artistic and design skills of your community then archive and share the results via your library. Public and community-led library leaders throughout England have been invited to consider setting up Common Libraries to complement their existing offer to service users. Every library authority in England (plus 230 community run libraries) has been invited to join a National Library Science Experiment. Has your library service signed up? The deadline is Thursday 15 January so you need to get your skates on.

Common Libraries host weekly events where local people can come together to share their knowledge and know-how in an informal or social setting and peer-to-peer format. But, at their heart, Common Libraries comprise of a living archive developed by their users – ‘how-to’ instructions and kits contributed by local people to help others complete an exercise that provides an insight into what they know or care about.
"Whilst the ‘give-get’ library remains very much in its infancy, the intention is to develop a library that is complimentary to the more traditional public library service – one that is comprised of the local knowledge and know-how to be contained within MakerBoxes." Carnegie UK Trust - Enterprising Libraries: The Waiting Room



In 1931 the noted Indian librarian and mathematician, Ranganathan, proposed a theory for the operation of libraries based on five simple laws:

  1. Books are for use
  2. For every reader his [or her] book
  3. For every book its reader
  4. Save the time of the reader
  5. The library is a growing organism


Common Libraries would like to work with libraries and their users to test the potential for local or common knowledge and know-how to impact the fifth law – by prototyping Common Libraries with funding from Arts Council England.

Every library service has been sent a Maker Instruction Kit and each box contains an invitation to join the project plus instructions for a variety of projects from cooking to cross stitch, finger knitting to making a pinhole camera.

Add the instruction sets to your library management system, display them in your library and encourage your members to borrow them. Each instruction sheet has been created by an artist or craftsperson, designer or maker who wants to share their knowledge.











































































Here's an example developed at the Waiting Room by Clare Sams introducing people to Cross Stitch.























The Common Libraries team hope that library users will also want to begin contributing their knowledge and know-how to the Common Libraries you establish – via an online  user submission form. If they receive submissions from library users in your area, they will contact your library service to explore whether they would  like to become a fully-fledged Common Library in April 2015.
Apply for Additional Support
In addition to joining the National Library Science Experiment, library authorities and community-led libraries in England are invited to:
  • Apply to receive hands-on support to help you engage your creative communities and assess local interest in establishing Common Libraries right away;
  • Apply to become 1 of 5 libraries hosting Maker Instruction Sets as well as Maker Kits to help us assess interest in them across the country; and/or
  • Apply to attend a free event to learn more about Common Libraries, experience hacking and making first-hand, and hear about the outcome of this experiment in March 2015. To apply to attend an event in Newcastle or London, please register through Eventbrite.

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