Phillip Torrone makes case for next-gen public libraries

[Phillip Torrone] has started a discussion about a possible upgrade to the public library system in the US and wants to know what you think. His name should be familiar (Hackaday founder, Open Source hardware advocate, and Tron costume model) and he’s definitely got his finger on the pulse of today’s electronics enthusiasts. He poses the question, could we upgrade libraries to become public techshops?

As a frequenter user of my own library system here in Madison, Wisconsin I like to think that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. I find it nice to be able to borrow books, as it seems wasteful to buy a book I will only read once. Sure, I do buy and sell books at the used book store, but that doesn’t diminish how I value the library system and often suggest in posts that our readers should go check out books they’re interested in.

But I must agree with [Mr. Torrone] that, a least to some extent, reserving large buildings to house collections of books may be an outdated concept. It’s not just the books that make the library. These buildings provide computer time and Internet access to the community. I’ve occasionally written posts from public libraries instead of paying the ‘coffee tax’ to get on WiFi in a coffee shop. Libraries also serve as community meeting spaces, and polling places. And what [Phillip] is talking about aims to offset some of the stacks in order to augment the functionality of the institution.

What if it were a repository of knowledge in the written form as well as a place to use tools and learn new skill? It’s an intriguing question and I’m glad he asked it.

Comments

  1. Roberto says:

    Enterprise strives where government fails.

    If government provides all the services it is able to provide, is private enterprise doomed?

  2. Philip says:

    Honestly, its a silly idea. Initial tooling costs, maintenance, training, replacements etc will cost alot more than a library. Not to mention the insanely high insurance premium.

    Sure most people would love a hacklab funded by the government but its never going to happen like this. Librarys are a good idea and will still be here in 100 years.

  3. Brian says:

    I love Toronne, a true visionary. But let’s call this what it is. This is an attempt to build support for the American taxpayer funding Hackerspaces. I go to the library regularly. People aren’t there to build. Libraries are serving as community centers.

  4. VV says:

    Libraries are certainly important services to ensure access to knowledge, and in more modern times, computers and the internet for everyone. I do hope Libraries continue to be a fixture in towns and cities across the world going into the future.
    However, as e-books and e-readers claw more into the reading market, we may not be far away from making the book irrelevant. Libraries may have to move into new areas again.
    However I do not think this is that area. It would be great if everyone had access to the types of equipment we are talking about, but we have to consider that *most* people do not want that. Perhaps that is the place of Colleges and Universities to provide access and training for these specialist devices.

  5. Chris W says:

    I can see the lawsuits now. Letting people of questionable technical and mechanical skills access a government funded hacker space is a bad idea. Libraries are already adapting to the e-book movement by allowing you to check out e-books on your readers. And while I would love to have a hacker space in my community, I would rather it be funded by the people that are going to use it and not the entire community. There is too much wasteful spending as it is.

  6. jgunn says:

    Although I think adoption of Torrone’s idea would be a hard sell as most people don’t “get” concepts like hackerspaces – I spend 30min explaining it one time at a community artist studio open-house and got nothing but blank looks, even though they already were, in essence, the art equivalent of a hackerspace – I think the idea of merging an important but aging institution like public libraries with other more forward-looking community resources makes sense.

    I live in the least-rural part of a very rural state (NH) and its hard to have really good community access resources because people are so spread out. The library in my town is tiny; the nearest “good” hackerspace, I believe, is still fledgeling and 45min south in Lowell, MA.

    I could easily see a visionary, tied to the public library system, starting a community center that merged the library with…I dunno, after school programs, a hackerspace, a low-cost rehearsal space for bands, a vocational program for teens that fall outside the normal college-directed curriculum or out-of-work adults, and any number of other ideas. The down economy leaves us with no lack of empty rentable space. There’s a recently closed community college building sitting vacant down the road that could house it all. And most of those programs – with the exception of staffing, which admittedly would be tricky to provide – could be started and maintained by people volunteering equipment and supplies like people do with startup hackerspaces. Heck, I could probably start up a decent workshop and a band practice space with the equipment in my basement alone.

    That was more of a rant than I intended – but part of me suspects that libraries will continue down a slope of being less relevant to the average person until funding gets cut sharply and by then it will be too late to evolve them or convince people why they need to be preserved. Rolling them into a larger community center concept in areas where there is a real lack of that sort of thing is pretty appealing to me.

    -Jeff

  7. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    I somehow don’t see libraries buying $75,000 Omax waterjets (as shown in the lower left corner of the graphic) and allowing the public to use them given the nozzles alone are $100 or so and they cost at least $40 per hour to operate – as well as needing hearing protection and industrial level capability (forklifts, 480V power, etc).

    They are less dangerous than many tools but 60,000 PSI water isn’t exactly safe for kids. Plus, OMAX pumps are rotary and require rebuilds fairly frequently compared to intensifier designs (that can go 600+ hours between HP seal rebuilds).

    I like the concept of libraries as hackerspaces. But lets not glaze over the practical implications either.

    That said, the Zcorp 3d printer shown on the left of the graphic would be largely ideal for a hackerspace type setup.

  8. pt says:

    gang, the goal of the article (and for the comments here) is to talk about what a library *can* become – they once just had books, now they have computers, DVDs and net access. what will they become in 10 years, 20 years from now.

    this is not about getting tax funded hackerspaces, so please read the article before you say that.

    this is about what a library can be as books go all digital and communities want to re-tool and rebuild for the future.

    does the public library have a role?

    some cities have tool lending libraries at their public libraries, again – read the article :)

    thanks–

  9. bhtooefr says:

    Myself, I’ve been advocating replacing schools with a library-meets-hackerspace-meets-unstructured-school type of facility – people hanging out, sharing knowledge, maybe teaching the occasional class, mentoring one another, etc., etc.

    We see this kind of thing online, but there are some things that work better in real life, and some people that learn better in real life.

  10. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Another thing. I liken hackerspaces to the BDSM or other kink communities. They require a certain type of person. A mature person who is respectful and doesn’t break things or use them inappropriately. A person who is willing to learn and who gives and doesn’t just take. A person who, quite honestly is intelligent and loves solving problems.

    Libraries have to let the public in. That means anybody. Kids. Felons. Idiots. Careless people. Homeless people. Think of the average person. Half of them will be dumber than that. I mean no disrespect by these statements and I do not believe in stereotyping a person but my point is – you don’t trust $100k machines to the public at large. Darwin and lawsuits are not fun. A shop is NOT a place where you can tolerate horseplay or nonsense or stupidity. Learning can and should take place but some mistakes can be fatal and swift. Not every machine is as dangerous or expensive but some can be very much so in the hands of an untrained operator. Machines do what you tell them to do and none that I know of have any ability to prevent you from doing stupid stuff (with the exception of limit switches and such). In short, they are designed to be used by experienced operators.

    Back to the BDSM analogy –

    While the BDSM community is highly inclusive and respecting of people, I still don’t know of any BDSM play parties that let anybody in. It is always a friend of a friend type of arrangement. The BDSM community, for all of its acceptance (and I know of no other group as accepting as they are) has to draw the line somewhere. And honestly, there are people the BDSM community DOES NOT WANT showing up to its events or private parties. A public, taxpayer funded enterprise has no such ability to restrict who attends or joins.

    For this reason, I see the library hackerspace concept/argument to be fundamentally flawed. But not a useless concept. I love my local hackerspace (and I know quite a few local BDSM people do as well). I just don’t know if opening it up to the public at large (without at least doing a comprehensive analysis of costs, risks, operating procedures, training, security? etc) is an idea that is as good as it may appear at first glance.

  11. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Sorry the Omax is on the lower right.

  12. pt says:

    @CutThroughStuffGuy – this is about what a library can evolve in to, i’m sure there was a lot of debate about “felons” and “dumb people” using computers and the internet when libraries adapted to provide tech and access starting 10 years ago or so.

    maybe it starts out by offering electronic’s workshops and how to use CAD, maybe it’s have FIRST robotics meet at public libraries, maybe it’s something else – what can the library become in 5 or 10 years from now? surely more than an empty room filled with ebook readers, right?

  13. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    I don’t recall people having an issue with letting the public use computers.

    Using a computer isn’t the same though. My point was not that certain people should not be allowed access. My point is that the consequences aren’t the same when it comes to some (much?) of the gear. You can break a computer but it can’t hurt you. Mills, lathes, waterjets and lasers CAN hurt you.

    So maybe the approach is to start small as you suggest. Workshop space, ardunos, social space, CAD, robotics. Start the ball rolling and let it build but don’t jump in head first.

  14. pt says:

    @CutThroughStuffGuy – there was a complete freak-out and melt down about “allowing” internet access in libraries – but it was such a long time ago, no one remembers. i’m sure there will be a time when people look back and not recall when libraries were “just books”.

    the goal of all of this is to think about what libraries can evolve to, some already have started: there are over 25 tool lending libraries at public libraries in the USA, they even loan out chain saws – imagine that.

  15. john personna says:

    Some of our local high school shop classes flip to adult education “classes” that are much like hacker spaces. The instructor says hello, gives a safety lecture, and says feel free to ask me for help.

    Give that so many high schools and junior colleges have the equipment, that seems the path to take.

    That and … libraries are already disrespecting books (in favor of internet carrels) way too much.

  16. Scott says:

    Maker shops are in part a reaction to a -lack- of state sponsored vocational education.

    How about we work to restore vocational schools, which are seriously underfunded and have a reputation of being places where flunkies and delinquents go to float through the system?

    Existing vocational schools could get extra revenue by hosting after-school make workshops. I’d certainly pay.

    The nearest make workshop to me is 2 cities away (30 miles), and that is a bigger deterrent than the $50-$100 per month membership.

    I like Phillip’s idea as a conversation starter, but I would agree with others that it is impractical except for a few really tight-knit communities. The money would be better spent on the children, by improving school workshops. My idea of renting them out at night could make the departments self-funding… which is very important as workshops take second priority to books and football.

  17. pt says:

    @scott – these are all good ideas, and that’s the point – to get ideas and people thinking about how the library can evolve. please do not think i literally mean put $2m of laser cutters and tools in a library next week.

  18. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    As Scott pointed out, vocational learning, when I was in school and perhaps still today, was deeply frowned upon. It was where the misfits, the not college bound, and the generally “unsuccessful” people went or did. It was seen as akin to manual labor. Easily replaceable. Why learn to fix cars or become a seamstress when who knows where that will be 10 years from now and who will want to employ you? For some strange reason, nobody said the same thing about art history majors or religious study majors either….. hmm.

    The other kids were seen as being management or at least college bound and on their way to get a higher education. Which they then paid $100,000 – $200,000 for and are now still in debt a decade later. So maybe the joke was on them all along?

    Anyway, that perception is starting to change, I think. But it is still deeply ingrained. I think something like this could potentially change this – along with other private, for profit local hackerspaces (that perhaps have the big toys and such)?

  19. jgunn says:

    Staring small is more what I imagined – yes, you can hurt yourself with a soldering iron, but you’re not likely to lop off a limb. If a public space can grow to the point that it can have laser cutters and bandsaws, great, but hopefully they’ve worked out a staffing solution by then.

    I don’t think the fact that making laser cutters available to unsupervised kids might be unwise is a reason to discard the whole concept of rolling libraries into a larger community resource center.

  20. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Lets talk about the practicalities of cost for a moment.

    To properly equip a serious, industrial level hackerspace, you honestly need at least $1,000,000 and can easily go up to $2,000,000 or more if you really wanted to. Not counting the real estate or employee time. I expect that number to drop to a point but only so far. Running it is also not extremely cheap either. Things break. Expensive things sometimes. I would target a MINIMUM of $500,000 of direct out of pocket costs to start up a true hackerspace.

    You can get by with much, much less if you are only doing soldering or other neat but low cost stuff or are willing to put a HUGE amount of time and experience into building things (generally with other, expensive tools). You can make $15,000 plasma tables for $5,000 if you are willing (and able) to spend 300 – 400 hours doing fabrication.

    Plasma cutters, welders, CNC machines, mills, lathes… you are looking at $3,000 to $15,000 and up – EACH. Then we get into the true industrial level items. HD plasma tables at 20 – 80k, industrial grade 3d printers at 50 – 150k, waterjets at 75 – 200k, laser cutters at 100 – 300k, laser engravers at 15 – 40k. It adds up faster than you think. You of course don’t need all of these toys and many hackerspaces don’t have or need them. But they certainly do help and the “cheaper versions” often times can wind up being anything from just as good to smaller envelope to absolutely frustratingly useless and everything in between.

    Are libraries of today equipped to deal with this? What does a library of books truly cost? They don’t buy them all at retail.

  21. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    “I don’t think the fact that making laser cutters available to unsupervised kids might be unwise is a reason to discard the whole concept of rolling libraries into a larger community resource center.”

    I agree and that was the point I was trying to convey. I urged caution not an absolute disregard for the idea. It is legally a bit tricky though to just let anybody have at machines and part of the learning process is screwing up.

    Books don’t hurt people. Industrial machines can be operated safely but I think we will agree have more potential to injure an unwise and untrained operator.

    60 watt laser “cutters” are generally safe as they have interlocks. Mills can be quite dangerous but many (but not all) have interlocks. Most manual ones do not. It all depends on the equipment, the vintage, the safety features, the operators, the tolerance for horseplay, etc.

  22. Brian says:

    @PT I did read it, twice. With respect, yes it is.

    You begin with: “… represent the collective commitment of a community to their future.”
    Translation. Tax revenue pays for libraries. It is mentioned, 8% percent is paid for by more direct means. I would think the majority of this 8% falls into interest,fees,and grants. Unless we are speaking of private grants, almost all of these are involuntary, they are essentially ‘use’ taxes.

    The proposal, morph the library into something more useful to us as a community, shift those funds into our model. But you assume this will provide a benefit for ALL. I do not think you support that argument in what you have written.

    Hacker spaces are standing on their own. They will grow organically to meet the needs of their communities. Tech Shops are surviving in those communities that have enough interested people to support them. Our country is hurting, we are in debt up to our eyeballs, what we should be identifying is what we can shift to the private sector. If libraries aren’t serving their communities they should be closed.

  23. pt says:

    @CutThroughStuffGuy – tool lending libraries lend out thousands of tools that can do more damage than a book or computer. they’ve managed to pay for those tools, the seattle public library got tens of millions from private donors, it’s really just a matter of what is considered valuable to a community. somehow shop classes have been part of many US school with giant table saws, it’s all possible, not instant – but with work and vision.

  24. nanomonkey says:

    Oakland and Berkeley, CA both have tool lending libraries. I see this as a start. You can check out all sorts of tools that you would normally only use once or twice in a decade. This is very convenient and allows people of the community to share resources.

    While retooling can be expensive, it is not impossible to foresee a means to get useful tools into the hands of the public.

  25. jgunn says:

    “To properly equip a serious, industrial level hackerspace, you honestly need at least $1,000,000 and can easily go up to $2,000,000 or more if you really wanted to. Not counting the real estate or employee time. I expect that number to drop to a point but only so far. Running it is also not extremely cheap either. Things break. Expensive things sometimes. I would target a MINIMUM of $500,000 of direct out of pocket costs to start up a true hackerspace.”

    Hmm. I respect what you’re saying here, but where I am, the only way a hackerspace would get rolling is for a group of like-minded individuals who were already struggling to support their own efforts to band together and pool tools and resources. They get a little money together to rent a workshop space, one guy brings his welding kit, another guy brings his wood shop tools, a third person brings electronics tools and parts, another brings in their scrap pile. As membership grows, so does the pool of tools and resources.

    I think if a library evolved itself into a community center that sought to provide space for many community groups – library services, book clubs, youth groups, a hackerspace, the other ideas I floated above – then you’re not trying to convince your townsfolk to pony op half a million dollars to start a hackerspace that might not succeed anyway due to lack of interest. You’re one more interest group of many that is trying to benefit from, and give back to the community.

    The community provides the space for free or cheap; tools, supply, and membership comes from interested individuals.

    I feel like several people in this thread are putting a lot of brain cycles toward thinking of reasons why it won’t work. Why not redirect them to identifying the potential issues and suggesting how they might be resolved?

  26. pt says:

    @jgunn – “I feel like several people in this thread are putting a lot of brain cycles toward thinking of reasons why it won’t work. Why not redirect them to identifying the potential issues and suggesting how they might be resolved?”

    exactly. everyone here can likely come up with at least a dozen ways their communities can become better and more interesting for science, electronics and engineering. maybe the library is part of that, maybe it’s not – but i think everyone has some good ideas, this is a safe place to post them :)

  27. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Just for the record, I would LOVE to see this idea take seed and blossom into a wonderful entity. My only reason to “be so negative” here is simply to try to avoid potential problems that I see that are possible (likely?) to come up that I have personally myself seen in the course of setting up my own makerspace.

    So please don’t take my words as anything other than another datapoint of information to consider.

  28. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    “As membership grows, so does the pool of tools and resources.”

    Who owns the hackerspace once everybody owns a small part of it? Who decides what happens to it from the big picture standpoint? What if the guy who lent the saw wants his saw back? What happens when the guy who lent his $20,000 of welding gear feels like his contribution is more valuable than the guy who lent his $100 saw? Who pays for the upkeep of said tools? The consumables? Not every machine costs the same to run.

  29. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Also – how do you define success of a hackerspace? Profit? That isn’t how you value a library. What is the “point” or “worth” of a hackerspace in this context?

  30. jgunn says:

    Those are operational variables that can change from space to space – club rules defined in a charter. A space started by an independently wealthy individual or a retired engineer will operate differently from a space started by 10 college kids.

    I would suggest talking to existing spaces and see how they do it, but I am positive that many exist, all with different operational models. And that’s an issue to be sorted out by hackerspaces in general, not specific to the concept we’re talking about here.

    How would YOU address these questions?

  31. Graybeard says:

    When I was a bit younger (over 60 years ago) my high school opened its wood shop for community use on selected evenings. Not only was woodworking done but other craft projects were presented. I enjoyed it then and I’d sure like to have something using the advanced technology available today I’d like some classes as well. I might add that in our junior high metal shop we used soldering irons heated on blowtorches to complete soldering projects. Safety was emphasized. Graybeard Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional

  32. macona says:

    A one who helped run the Portland TechShop (Which folded Feb 2010) I cant see how the for profit business model can sustain itself, and in the case of the Portland one, did not. The TechShop model pretty much requires constant infusion of money from “investors” to keep the places running. The original techshop business model centered around investors giving techshop money in $25,000 increments. In exchange for this they get lifetime membership and paid back over 10 years with a 10% return on top of that.

    As of the closing of the Portland location our local investors had gotten word from investors at Menlo Park that none of them had received payments at that time. Yet the location claimed to be in the black.

    Some of us from TechShop, Equipment owners, and investors looked at opening up a techshop like entity after the Portland location closed. We had three people try to put together a business plan, all of who ran businesses and none could come up with a sustainable plan.

    The Portland location ran differently than the other two locations. We did not have the amount of investors that the other two had so we ended up relying on equipment donated or lent to the operation. This had one major advantage, less initial outflow of cash. Also it had a side benefit of having much higher quality equipment (Virtually nothing Chinese) although some was rather old. But everything did work.

    But in the end, it all fell apart. Many factors contributed to the demise which I will not get into here.

    But in the end I still have friends who were members and investors so it was not all bad.

    I think the Hackerspace model is the way to go. I cant see it running like a Library, especially if the government has anything to do with it. I have a friend who works in the County library system and the bureaucracy is unparalleled. Keep the government out of your lives if you can!

  33. pt says:

    @macona – it’s a little confusing, you’re saying all the private enterprise efforts failed “I cant see how the for profit business model can sustain itself,” – so what would work?

  34. Brian.Holiday says:

    @PT You attack costs on two fronts. Renting space and the donation of tools. Each tool has a value, that counts as a contribution. The tool is insured and held in trust by the organization. If you don’t contribute enough value in a tool, you contribute a fee. I haven’t run the numbers, but I would say a once a year flat fee paid for in installments. Now you have revenue covered, provide value. You have tools for people to use, but you haven’t addressed all the needs of the customer. You need to appeal to a family. You want somewhere to put the kids, a treadmill or stationary bike for bored spouses, TV’s, basically a social area for the ‘widows and widowers’ to hang out.

    Now the ‘icky’ part. You charge for materials, snacks, soda’s, everything based a little lower than the prevailing market. You buy in quantity and pocket the difference. All that cash goes into the ‘business’. You rent space to other groups, you teach classes. People with skills get a break on use fees. I think with an ‘all of the above’ approach this could be self sustaining.

    If you want to discuss it further, I will send you an email at make.com.

  35. macona says:

    Something like Hackerspaces. Get in with a non-profit status and hopefully find a small building and get real cheap rent. Of course with a non-profit status there are whole new hoops to jump through. But the one downfall of most of the hackerspaces I have seen is the tooling is crap. Some have decent electronics equipment but ones promoting their “Full Machine Shops” are a joke.

    There are a lot of semi industrial areas with lots of empty spaces that need filling. I had been contacted by someone after TS failed about opening something in a space he had but it never panned out.

    Location is also a big issue. Especially Portland. People here seems so tight with their money and (to me) seem like they want things handed to them. There is also a definite anti-profit, anti-establishment vibe around and people turn their noses up if you want to make a profit at something. We also had an issue with the physical location of the building. It was located in a Suburb of Portland, Beaverton. Surrounded by a lot of High Tech businesses there was a lot of interest in that area. We had carless people who lived downtown that wouldnt make the “trek” out to Beaverton to use the place. Of course this would have been the same issue had it been located in downtown Portland, people from surrounding communities would have not wanted to try and find parking downtown.

    The whole idea of TechShop is nothing new. There have been several iterations of this concept in the past 50 year or so. One place used coin op machines. There is a place in Australia that has a similar concept where you pay per hour for machine use. I think they have people there that can run the machine for you at one rate and another rate for you running it.

    In the end the best approach may be shops with specific interest groups. One for motorheads, one for machining, one for electronics, and so on. There are some that will “cross-train” but most people have a pretty specific interest. You could have membership based on what shop you were interested in and a general membership that covered all.

    Shops that have specific interests could be located in a location that would benefit the members the best. For example a Auto shop could be located further from city center where rent is cheaper since most of these guys will be willing to drive.

    Well, I think that enough of my rambling for now.

  36. pt says:

    @macona – you said… “I have a friend who works in the County library system and the bureaucracy is unparalleled. Keep the government out of your lives if you can!”

    but now you’re saying the best thing to do is for a hackerspace to apply to be a non-profit?

    have you ever applied to the IRS for tax exempt status?

  37. macona says:

    It seems many Hackerspaces are already non-profit. Becoming a non-profit does not mean government is supporting you. It just means you dont need to pay taxes to them.

    But the paperwork involved could employ a person full time. We had looked into it.

  38. pt says:

    so you haven’t applied to the IRS for tax exempt status, but you’re still suggesting the best thing to do is for a hackerspace to apply to be a non-profit?

  39. macona says:

    I have no reason to as the reason no longer exists. And we had someone that was supposed to handle that for us. But things fell apart before that happened.

    The non-profit status has other benefits than just tax exemption. It allows money and equipment to be donated and the donator can write these off as deductions. We had several opportunities to get equipment this way if we were one, but we were not.

  40. Neckbeard says:

    Phil makes some good points. I don’t think a library is the medium required for this to happen though. Maybe a funded version of techshop.ws in a dedicated facility explicitly designed for the purpose.

    That however is idealistic thinking and as big as the hacker community has become it is still relatively minor. What is needed (initially) is a school initiative to educate the next generation on the stuff possible.

    After that has been achieved then you will have a solid argument. Keep up the good work though Phil and thanks for keeping the movement fresh/relevant.

    NB

  41. therian says:

    who need libraries or knowledge for cotton picking ? dont forget we all be enslaved by 2012

  42. addidis says:

    Seriously this is one of the best ideas ever. In history libraries were reserved for kings and queens. Then the common man got access. This is the best idea i have seen in a long time. I compare it to when the library got music cds by me and I found my self there weekly.

    Hackerspaces are currently /trying/ to fill the void, but for cash poor hackers the fees can still limit participation.

    This could be a step to renew our industrial status in the world as it grows our creative abilities as a country, putting 10k $ tools in the hands of the masses.

  43. Brian Neeley says:

    I like the ‘idea’ of library to tech shop, but I can’t see the ‘reality’ of such a transformation. Many of the public libraries I have seen have a certain “feel” that is distinctly different from what you would find in a shop, be it electronic, wood, or metal. From a strictly visceral standpoint, a hackerspace or tech shop has more in common with a gym than it does a library.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think tech shops and hackerspaces are intellictually very similar to libraries, in that they are both places where lots of learning can and does take place. But I think it would be easier to co-opt vocational schools and community colleges into this type of thing than the public libraries.

  44. bubub says:

    The libraries could offer classes where you are trained on the varies tools first, maybe.

  45. I don’t see it as a tech shop, but I certainly think libaries should transform a bit.
    Knowledge distribution is vitial, but can be done at a fraction of a space. Some of us might still like physical books, but, honestly, in a few generations that will go. Its just what we are used too.
    However, a public area to get knowledge, internet access, and purhapes even to exchange skills would be very usefull.
    Also photocopyiers, 3D Printers, recycleing points, and various other usefull tools should be on site.
    I’m not sure of a full tech shop, however.

    If we could turn them into a skill-exchange area though it would be nice. Purhapes with a list of things that can be done in the local community (fixed/improved/invented), and when the tech is ready, the 3D printers neccessery to produce parts needed to help solve those local problems safely. (ie, a printers easy to keep safe, a bunch of serious tools and you have to worry about children playing in the same area…)

  46. Ekaj says:

    Phillip has been smoking too much reefer, and has too much faith in local/state/federal government.

  47. macona says:

    3D printers are still a long way from being ready for prime time in such a setting. The home made ones suffer from pretty crummy output and the commercial ones that do have nice output are terribly expensive to run and maintain.

  48. Kyle says:

    I have never heard of this philip guy, but it sounds like he needs to get out in to the real world more often. We have an administration in the white house that spent like 4 TRILLION in a year, and have nothing to show for it. I wouldn’t trust them any further than I can throw them, and I don’t have any arms!

    I understand, he’s trying to say things that are “far out” with the hope that one of his crazy statements will come true, and he can point and say “see? see? I said that would happen!”. I believe it’s called carpet bombing, or something like that.

    I say meh, whatev. The creativity in this country continues to dwindle. High School graduates are less and less skilled every year. This country isn’t going anywhere but in China’s pocket!

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