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Should Public Libraries Become Hacker Spaces?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the kevin-kelly-might-like-that-idea dept.

Education 164

ptorrone writes "Public libraries — the availability of free education for all — represent the collective commitment of a community to their future. They symbolize what is most important, a commitment to educating the next generation. The role of a public library should also adapt over time, and that time is finally here. It's time to plan how we're going to build the future and what place public libraries have, should have, or won't have. MAKE's latest article encourages everyone to start talking about one of our great resources, the public library, and its future."

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Yes (4, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451902)

Libraries do not have enough legal expenses already, and have ample over-budget to support this initiative.

Re:Yes (2)

willda (1369247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451942)

Really? I beg to differ. We in Ohio have taken cuts for the last 10 or more years, yet we are expected to do more with less and less. We provide everything that other government agencies don't want to provide. "Let's close down the jobs & family Services offices...we'll send them to the library. They have lots of staff to help our clients....." Yeah, right. I wish we had all of the resources that people "think" that we have.

Re:Yes (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451980)

Sorry, I think you got whooshed!

Re:Yes (1)

willda (1369247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452054)

Sorry, I think you got whooshed!

Sorry but could you clarify? What is Whooshed?

Re:Yes (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452098)

It means that you mistook a sarcastic or ironic statement for a serious one. The GP certainly agrees with you that libraries are already understaffed, overburdened and severely short of budget.

Re:Yes (1)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452128)

... as in the sound something makes as it goes right over your head.

Re:Yes (0)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451988)

Woosh.

*Whooosh* (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35451992)

That's the sound the flying metal shards make as they penetrate a child's skin at your remodeled, "tech shop" local library hackerspace. Fortunately, this fits in well with the current purview of libraries, and they will welcome these (and other) additional liabilities with open arms!

Re:Yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35451984)

I can't believe it's not sarcasm!

A common problem in the public sector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452000)

This is the problem with public anything. If you are in charge of an organization, and you do a good job, people will say, "great, now we need you to do this!" Most of these people, incidentally, are elected officials who come up with idiotic ideas to get elected and are gone after a few years.

Even if you're lucky enough to get funding for some harebrained mandate, it's going to dilute your mission. What was a lean, well focused organization becomes a sprawling mess. And, of course, this is not even considering the fetid swamps of bureaucracy you have to wade through to get anything done; your organization might have a motivated, qualified team, but no one else in government does.

In the private sector, all this stuff can happen too, obviously. You get managers or consultants who come in with Great Ideas and fix stuff that isn't broken, take their money and leave someone else to clean up after them. But (unless it's propped up by the government) an unfocused business can go out of business, and this happens all the time.

(Posted from work at a government facility...)

Re:Yes (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452012)

It seems perfectly reasonable for public libraries to become internet cafes, providing free shared internet services for those that can not afford it. This in conjunction with normal book services. The books definitely need to remain with people relying more than ever upon digital services, public libraries could become a haven for knowledge in the event of sustained power failure.

It is never about what society can afford, as elements within society will deem that society can afford nothing but to service them and damn everyone else (narcissists and sociopaths). It is about what society values and requires that it members contribute too, in order to remain a part of that society.

Whilst the opportunity no longer exists to exile the narcissists and sociopaths to the barbaric regions of the planet away from civilised people that share and care, we must still remember the lessons from the past and learn to isolate them from positions of control, governance and influence.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452084)

It seems perfectly reasonable for public libraries to become internet cafes, providing free shared internet services for those that can not afford it.

Public libraries in the UK have been serving this purpose for almost a decade and a half, if not more. It was invaluable to me whilst growing up, as I'm sure it still is to many others.

Re:Yes (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452184)

They've been headed this way for the last 15 years anyway. My local library in a small town had internet 15 years ago. My local library now in the big city has free wifi. There's no reason why you couldn't use it as a web cafe.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452206)

Whilst the opportunity no longer exists to exile the narcissists and sociopaths to the barbaric regions of the planet away from civilised people that share and care, we must still remember the lessons from the past and learn to isolate them from positions of control, governance and influence.

Yeah, good luck with that. Anyone who's ever started a business can tell you their already in power - and do quite unpleasant things to maintain it.

Re:Yes (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452640)

It is never about what society can afford, as elements within society will deem that society can afford nothing but to service them and damn everyone else (narcissists and sociopaths). It is about what society values and requires that it members contribute too, in order to remain a part of that society.

If only. You already know what the narcissists and sociopaths value, and they're part of society too.

Whilst the opportunity no longer exists to exile the narcissists and sociopaths to the barbaric regions of the planet away from civilised people that share and care, we must still remember the lessons from the past and learn to isolate them from positions of control, governance and influence.

If only. History shows a different lesson. That the narcissists and sociopaths end up in the positions of control, governance, and influence in the civilized world. I'd go as far as to say civilization cultivates and encourages them. Sure, barbarians might be narcissists and sociopaths, but that tends to be a potentially fatal handicap rather than an asset in low tech regions.

I think libraries are as obsolete (0, Troll)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452024)

+1 insightful

I think libraries are as obsolete as Blockbuster's physical stores. Online is where it's at, like netflix, amazon, hulu, and so on.

Re:I think libraries are as obsolete (1, Flamebait)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452190)

Yeah, we saw your stupid opinion on libraries last time. It was as worthless as this one where you agreed with a sarcastic comment. Way to go, dumbass.

Re:I think libraries are as obsolete (0)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452572)

Hmmm.
Are libraries now the 4th rail of politics?
You're not allowed to express your honest opinion of them, (that their purpose - to store knowledge - has been replaced by computers/the web), or else you'll be called stupid? Maybe I should censor myself to avoid the criticism, and just conform to the PC view.

Re:I think libraries are as obsolete (2, Insightful)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453392)

Oh, poor baby. Your opinion was criticized. As were you for blindly agreeing with a sarcastic comment in your need to feel like you're not the only schmuck sharing that opinion. Let's all have a great big cry-fest and apologize for your hurt feelings.

Fact of the matter is your opinion is wrong. Yes you're entitled to state it.
"PC" my ass. I explained how it's wrong several days ago. You didn't care to respond, which you're also entitled to do.
Now you're back here again repeating the "libraries are obsolete" nonsense, despite it being shown to be a useless point of view which you don't bother to actually discuss. That's still legal, but it doesn't make you any less of a nuisance to this community than the common troll.

So yeah, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this but, these posts of yours are useless. You don't have to censor yourself- just say something interesting on the subject for a change.

Re:I think libraries are as obsolete (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452356)

Your perception of what a library is and does may well be obsolete.

Fortunately, libraries are not constrained by your perceptions.

Re:I think libraries are as obsolete (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453924)

Libraries are as obsolete as ballet, opera, fine art, public transportation, public television, and any number of things that MOST people never use. Doesn't mean they should go away, however.

Re:Yes (2)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452130)

Good libraries seek relevance in all things, and are relevant in so many things other than books. Don't limit your mission.

Sure, it's hard work, but who else is going to do it? The schools? They're already mired in political and religious wrangling. They're trying to play the role of parent and teacher. They're already the subject of unfunded mandates that conflict with their mission. They're already burdened with parental indifference, community budget-cutting, and federal mandates for unrealistic performance in things that aren't actually helping kids love to learn.

The kind of people who are attracted to the library are, by and large, the kind of people who want to get involved. Build this. They will come. Work with your "Friends of the Library" group (if you have one, and if you don't, FORM ONE NOW) to drive initiatives like this.

Don't ask your community's government for the resources to handle this, ask your fellow citizens directly. There are plenty of us who stand ready to help our libraries, because we recognize them for what they are - not dusty rooms full of books, not free-use computers, not distributors of free access to museums and local places of interest, not arts and crafts centers, not meeting spaces, not community builders, but all of these things, and so very much more.

Plutarch once said, “the mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” Go light a few fires today.

Re:Yes (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452422)

Libraries do not have enough legal expenses already, and have ample over-budget to support this initiative.

You think efforts like the ones by Republicans in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and others to put all the publicly held commons into the hands of the corporate donors is going to stop at public libraries?

Junior, there's not going to be public anything when these Vandals are done.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35453904)

Yeah, and when the government goes bankrupt from all the Democrats handing out funding to any hard luck case who walks along you're not going to have police and public roads either as there will be no money left.
 
See! I can play the same game too!
 
We're on the edge of going broke forever and all you people can do is talk about how much we should be handing out money that we don't have in the first place.
 
There are common grounds everyone could work from but the two party system has you so brainwashed that no one in power will ever work together unless it's for their own gains. Democrats and Republicans both do this. Sadly, the goose steppers only see one side doing it while giving their own side a free pass to be a bunch of ignorant asses.

We're all in it together (2)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451908)

Public libraries — the availability of free education for all — represent the collective commitment of a community to their future. They symbolize what is most important, a commitment to educating the next generation.

Try telling that to the British government.

Re:We're all in it together (2)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451944)

I thought our public schools "represent the collective commitment of a community to their future," not our libraries. (Though I suspect that too many districts reflect our "collective commitment" in an accurate, yet unflattering way.)

Re:We're all in it together (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452256)

> I thought our public schools "represent the collective commitment of a
> community to their future,"

No - I do not have children, will not have children and avoid having anything to do with schools, other than arranging parking tickets for selfish parents who park on the pavement outside the local school.

Libraries, though, are a resource for all and I actively support my local branch, even though the selection of books is abysmal.

Re:We're all in it together (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452366)

Any chance you pay taxes that support the local schools you "avoid having anything to do with"? Wouldn't that qualify as a "collective commitment" (or lack therof?)

Re:We're all in it together (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452410)

...because by the age of 25, you've done all the inventing and creation you're going to, and all educational efforts should be spent on just the children.

Re:We're all in it together (1)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452420)

I thought our public schools "represent the collective commitment of a community to their future," not our libraries.

Isn't it possible for them both to serve (part of) that purpose? As well as our universities, our museums, etc.

Re:We're all in it together (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452512)

No, public schools represent our collective committment to indoctrinating the children into the worldview of those who control the schools (primarily the teachers' union). If public schools were committed to education, they would more readily remove those children who refuse to learn and do their best to interfere with the learning of others. In the U.S. (and quite likely many other countries), the public schools were created to train children to become ideal citizens. As a society, we no longer have a concensus as to what children need to learn in order to become ideal citizens.
I had not thought about it before but public libraries function in socially useful ways that schools cannot. First, people have to seek out the library. This means that most of those there are there because they want to be. This means that the threat of being banned from the library has real teeth. Second, it means that most of those there wish to learn.

Re:We're all in it together (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452636)

First, "those who control the schools (primarily the teachers' union)". Your tinfoil hat may be on too tight.

Then, "If public schools were committed to education, they would more readily remove those children who refuse to learn and do their best to interfere with the learning of others." Talk to teachers. They want to punt the little bastards out but the GOVERNMENT (not the teachers' union) won't let them. NCLB (and OBE before that, etc etc) and all that. Blame the DNA donors of those crotchfruit for refusing to believe their precious little snowflake isn't perfect and just to make sure they are perfect they will legally mandate that the are treated as if perfect.

Re:We're all in it together (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452974)

There is a significant difference between what teachers want and what the teachers' union wants. The teachers' unions are no more representative of what teachers want than the AARP is representative of what retired persons want.

Re:We're all in it together (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453458)

Having had to deal with the troublemakers that you refer to in such an appealing manner, I understand the desire to remove them from the classroom. On the other hand, the DNA donors of those children also pay taxes to help maintain the school. Presumably that is because their children will be allowed to go to school as well.

On one hand, its not fair to leave those kids in a classroom, but on the other hand, their parents often pay substantial taxes to send their children there. Kicking those children out means not only do the parents not get their money's worth, they also have that much less money to send the child to a school with the resources/expertise to actually work with them.

In this case, the government is facing up to the fact that even bad parents who could care less about education get to vote, although I suppose it is only fair in this case, since it involves their tax money.

I think that it is a good thing that we expect all of our children to be educated. However, there are some serious disadvantages to the way that we have arranged it.

Re:We're all in it together (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452712)

Yeah. And tell it to any community effort that's actually tried to embody such values, and been regulated or budgeted out of existence, or shut down by police for not fitting into the state's recognized slots for organizations. I'm thinking of most community groups, activist groups, radical bookstores, public gardens, squatter communities, etc.

Our state values are not our true values. Or vice versa...

(Speaking as a New Yorker and an American)

Dying out... (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451926)

I don't think Libraries will survive for much longer. If you want a book now you can get it in a digital version, and the publishers are rather adamant about allowing their ebooks to be borrowed from the library, and pretty much anything else can be digitised and accessed online.

So while its a nice idea to convert libraries to this sort of thing, they're not going to survive much longer in my opinion.

Re:Dying out... (1)

TheCycoONE (913189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451994)

I very much hope your dismal version of the future doesn't happen. Libraries are a last refuse of a saner time when information and art was free for everyone. They are the best, maybe the only, place where you can get a large selection of books, movies, and sometimes games in their full form for free to experience and learn from without breaking the law.

Libraries are almost certainly how the internet should have worked, but it is very far from the reality in an age of ever suffocating copyright laws, publishing companies with more power than artists or consumers, and drm by default.

Re:Dying out... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452124)

Corporate media only controls corporate media projects. Something like Wikipedia has its share of problems, but it also has a great deal of decent information, and it isn't terribly likely that the free encyclopedia idea has seen its best days (Wikipedia may have...). Creative Commons exists.

And so on. There may well be some chilling effect due to current copyright, but the idea that corporate media has complete control over all media is simply ludicrous, it is obvious that people are (at least mostly) free to share their own creations as they like.

And then there is the part of the discussion where many of the people that complain about copyright think that the majority of corporate media is crap. So who cares if they copyright their turds?

Re:Dying out... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452292)

libraries as collections of books will continue to live on, people who make collections will not just disappear overnight.
there's a bunch of _authors_ and their estates which are going to get hit more and more in the coming years though as their guaranteed yearly sales will drop(it's like a license to print money in any country with a thousand libraries).

and about copyright. they can try to stop you from reading, they can't stop people from reading, not even by registering typewriters and regularly beating people up for illicit books. they can burn the books but they can't burn replicated data. I'll take my .txt collection anytime over my hometown library, legal or not I can preserve them.

"There I was completely wasting, out of work and down
all inside it's so frustrating as I drift from town to town
feel as though nobody cares if I live or die
so I might as well begin to put some action in my life
Breaking the law, breaking the law"

Re:Dying out... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452964)

Over 10 years ago, I read an editorial that pointed out that if you want to look at what a "privatized" library system would look like, you have only to look at your local Barnes & Noble store..

For now, they'll let you sit there and read a book from their stacks, and even read your own books that you bring. But, of course, they could change that tomorrow. And, of course, they don't stock obscure and old books. But in our brave new world, why would you want to read those older books anyway. They probably just contain obsolete thoughts and might even be dangerous. Much better to consume what B&N has selected for you.

Now sit back down with your muffin and coffee and read

Re:Dying out... (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453514)

Yes, and added to that, libraries contain dictionaries with the meanings of words such as "refuse".

Re:Dying out... (1)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452156)

British libraries facilitate eBook lending. Now, of course you could argue this could mean physical library buildings will die out, but this is different from saying "I don't think libraries will survive for much longer".

However, there are books that don't work as eBooks. A very easy example is children's books -- the tactile ones, the pop-up books, the ones on dribble-resistant cardboard, and so on. A good children's section in a library provides a very conducive environment for young children to explore books, and develop a love for reading and learning. The weekly library visit becomes a highlight of a child's week; I'd go so far as to say that it's bad parenting not to take a child to the library regularly (even if you have lots of books at home).

And, libraries aren't just book lending facilities. For people living in cramped/busy accommodation, they can be the only place where you can get the peace and quiet to read or study.

Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (4, Informative)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452210)

Just because you haven't been in a library in years doesn't mean they're dying out. With the recession, I'd say my local library is busier than ever.

  • Want to watch a movie tonight for free?
  • Need a computer to search for a job or fill out a job application?
  • Need a book for resume advice?
  • Want to try out a cookbook before you buy it as you're doing more cooking at home and need some more variety?
  • Kids need a place while their parents are working a second job? (okay, this one's a bit of a problem; not all kids are well behaved)

All are available at your library. Some even loan out video games. (ours doesn't, but we organize video game nights for the kids; I'm working on organizing a 'video game swap' at the next one so people can trade the games they're not playing with other people)

And those are just the reasons for the busier times; I see the same parents picking up an armload a week for their kids to read. When the kid's going through a book a night, it adds up, even at $0.99 ebooks. And this way, you don't have to worry about the kid breaking a $100+ ebook reader, or get one for each kid.

If anything, the reason they're not going to survive is because of budget cuts due to loss of tax revenue. There's been a concerted push to get politicians to back up when they say 'We support education' to fund the libraries, or explain what they really mean is 'We support schools', even when most of their time is wasted teaching to standardized tests.

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452268)

My local library is composed of a number of ancient books held together by cellotape, the only computer is used to search for books, and you can't find anything in there which isn't a book.

So yeah I guess your mileage may vary, but except for the University Library (which works rather differently), all the libraries over here are like that. Used to love going when I was younger and there was no internet.

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (2)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452340)

This is one of those threads where it's worth people noting what country (or even which state) they're in.

British libraries tend to be fairly adequately stocked. If they don't have a book you're looking for, you can search their catalogue and order it from a different branch within the region. If you want a specific book they don't own, they'll consider buying it.

So, it seems like we're pretty lucky here. However, the current government is doing their best to wreck it all with funding cuts (while claiming all the while that local councils can achieve the same services on less money, simply by waving a magic "efficiency" wand.)

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452718)

Our libraries (Prince George's County, Maryland, USA) are like that ... it's actually a county library system, but they can either get books from another branch in the system, or put in an ILL (Inter-Library Loan) request to get it from one of the neighboring counties, some of the public universities, etc. Also, not all of the branches have the same books; They all have the basic stuff (novels, DVDs, kids books), but when it comes time to do serious research, the smaller libraries (like the one I volunteer at), only have books for elementary school; you have to go to a medium-sized library to also have middle school books, and the large-sized libraries have research materials up through high school, so I'll often have to order stuff I'm interested in.

I think the consideration for buying it is in how obscure it is, and the liklihood of someone else wanting it. If it's too strange, they won't do it, but for most stuff, they have no problem. (each branch has funds set aside for these purchases).

Our big round of funding cuts a couple of years ago we went from being on the verge of approval to have late hours one night to being closed two days a week.

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452982)

Our libraries (Prince George's County, Maryland, USA) are like that ... it's actually a county library system, but they can either get books from another branch in the system, or put in an ILL (Inter-Library Loan) request to get it from one of the neighboring counties, some of the public universities, etc. Also, not all of the branches have the same books; They all have the basic stuff (novels, DVDs, kids books), but when it comes time to do serious research, the smaller libraries (like the one I volunteer at), only have books for elementary school; you have to go to a medium-sized library to also have middle school books, and the large-sized libraries have research materials up through high school, so I'll often have to order stuff I'm interested in.

That's basically how it works here in Lansing, Michigan, USA... although our library system is not county-wide, it still has access to ILL requests and can get books from other regions, including at least two universities.

Of course, since Michigan State University is within driving distance, I'd be better off going directly there if I need books for research.

As far as I'm aware, our library system is funded completely through taxes.

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (1)

tangelogee (1486597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453322)

Charles County, MD, USA is pretty much the same, with the exception that we are in a group with neighboring counties to more easily provide access to more books. It actually used to be nicer, when you could get books from the public library loaned to a High school library. Luckily so far we have not experienced many visible cuts to our libraries.

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35453490)

This is totally a YMMV depending on location- I grew up on Long Island, NY and the libraries were fantastic really- They had internet enabled computers around 1996, had tons of books, and the interlibrary loan system could you get virtually any book ever printed, though few people ever really took advantage of it. I moved to a city you wouldn't consider so nice in NJ, and their library is still of similar quality, and they seem to carry many more current nytimes bestsellers then I remember my old libraries having.

Somewhat ironically, the worst library I have seen is the New York (City) Public Library system. I mean for cultural events, and research, it is amazing, but for general circulation and reading, I found it to be pretty crappy- it seems like every book I had on my to-read list, was either not carried, or had a wait-list. The Rose Reading Room is in my opinion one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever been in. I love finding excuses to go there.

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452518)

I have three libraries within 20 minutes of my house. All three are stocked well, offer similar programs to the ones that you described above, and are a great spot to go and work when I find that my home office is just too distracting.

I'm in the mid-coast region of Maine (US), so perhaps local libraries in other areas of the country/world are not as nice. The largest town in my area has only 10,000 residents so perhaps small rural towns can have nicer libraries?

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452656)

Luckily we have a library that's typically rated as one of the best (and typically the best in one of the polls) in the nation (US), so a recent levy to restore funding passed.

While I don't beileve this one has video games (I know the suburb I lived next to does and even has systems in the library for kids to play), my kids LOVE going to the library. The main one has toys and things fore dress up, the justification is they're all toys that support imagination and story telling, key skills for early reading. They have movies, which is nice and I use (typically for tv series or children's movies), but my kids love it for all the books and the computer games.

Even just for music its been great as we can borrow a cd, listen to it, and return it so I don't hear the same exact song for more than about a week (kids will listen to the same song 100 times in a row).

The initiative that I support the most, however, is their home work help. They have all the textbooks for the local schools (keep in mind there are over 80 different school districts with different books, so that's not a small task), they have basic school supplies, and they have volunteers to help with homework. My daughter's only in 3rd grade and my wife has asked me to double check her math HW a couple of times because she wasn't positive of an answer to a Math question, so I think its a great resource in trying to ensure every child has the opportunity for an education.

I'm very grateful to our current library, although I would love to see them get more tech friendly. I'd also like to see more meeting rooms, more community oraganizations, etc they have laid a great foundation.

Re:Huh? Have you been to a library lately? (1)

cheeks5965 (1682996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453750)

My mother in law is a librarian in a poor neighborhood. She gets a lot of patrons who need internet access, or are borrowing books / other media instead of buying, or kids who need a place to go for the afternoons after school. The parent post is very insightful. sorry I don't have any mod points.

Re:Dying out... (1)

Rossman (593924) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452434)

This would be terrible, if it happened. Once libraries are gone, the only way to get books will be to buy them. The digital versions will be (eventually) perfected with water-tight DRM so we lose one of the fundamental abilities of a book - it's ability to be lent out without restriction.

Re:Dying out... (1)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452462)

The digital versions will be (eventually) perfected with water-tight DRM so we lose one of the fundamental abilities of a book - it's ability to be lent out without restriction.

Whatever they try, there's always the analogue hole. Plonk a Kindle on a flatbed scanner, with a solenoid pressing the "next" button, and automate a scan/OCR -- and that's the worst possible case.

DRM upsets customers -- which is why Apple dropped it from iTunes purchases -- so I don't expect it to ever get *that* tough.

Re:Dying out... (1)

Mr.Z of the LotFC (880939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35454018)

Actually, that is unfortunately not the worst case. With improvements in object & face recognition technology they could additionally require that a human be viewing the device & no recording device of any sort be within view or refuse to display anything (except "DIE EVIL PIRATE!" of course).

Re:Dying out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452476)

> If you want a book now you can get it in a digital version

Aerofax: Tu-16 by Yefim Gordon, published by Midland Counties. Show me the digital version, please.

ITYM "if you want some made-up stories for your lazy brain, you can get it in a digital version".

Uhhh, Wot??? (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452490)

My children 10, 10, and 13 spend hours a day, several days a week, in one of our four local libraries. They browse the magazines and encyclopedic references, read the graphic novels and manga that are too expensive to buy, try out books that are "above their level" that their schools don't make readily available, and generally just read the hell out of everything they find. The local libraries are part of an even ginormously larger library system with shared resources searchable and order-able through a really well-designed online database, and I've taught my kids how to use the "recommendations" feature on Amazon and follow through with an order to the library system instead. In short, my kids are probably the most voracious readers in their classes, and I haven't bought a book for them in years, save birthdays, at which time the books become a treasured "You mean this is mine... to keep?!" item.

Weekends at the library are already out-of-control with concerts, crafts instruction, readings, plays, chess leagues, and education programs for every age level.

Fine for now, but what about the "digital future?" I just downloaded my first digital library book last night to my wife's Nook. Yeah, sure, I stripped the DRM from it as soon as I got it, just to see if I could (it's a geek thing...) but in principle I really have no problem with DRM on a library e-book: you wouldn't *own* the paper version, and you'd have to return it or pay a late fee after a time for it. For library loaners, DRM actually makes sense.

Libraries are here for the long term.

Re:Uhhh, Wot??? (1)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453272)

Fine for now, but what about the "digital future?" I just downloaded my first digital library book last night to my wife's Nook. Yeah, sure, I stripped the DRM from it as soon as I got it, just to see if I could (it's a geek thing...) but in principle I really have no problem with DRM on a library e-book: you wouldn't *own* the paper version, and you'd have to return it or pay a late fee after a time for it. For library loaners, DRM actually makes sense.

I agree - that this is a very appriate use of DRM. The big problem with DRM is that it is usually used to hold onto control of something after selling it to someone else. The customers then have a strong impetus to break the DRM in order to reclaim what they paid for, and those who aren't inclined to do so tend to build up a sense of resentment toward the supplier. This means making effective DRM is difficult and expensive, and also means you alienate your customers. In the case of a library you would ask to borrow an e-book for a couple of weeks and they give you a DRM'd copy of the work (hopefully made from a non-DRM archive so that they don't just vanish one day) which lasts for 2 weeks after which you can ask for another if you so wish. There's no real reason for someone to feel forced to crack this e-book (even if expiry dates are easier to crack than activation server requirement) or to resent the library or the publisher for not giving you something that lasts for as long as you can look after it (since you're just borrowing it anyway, and therefor have no reasonable expectation of being able to keep it).

Re:Uhhh, Wot??? (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453446)

My children 10, 10, and 13 spend hours a day, several days a week, in one of our four local libraries.

Thank you for raising children that appreciate knowledge. Too many parents don't seem to give a crap these days.

Re:Dying out... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452574)

Of course, that digital version can be edited to only say things that are acceptable today. That means that if a politician writes a book and then rises to significant power and some of the things that he/she wrote in that book are now a liability, those things can be made to have never been written. This is just one example of the problem with all information being in digital format. The same thing can be done to historical facts that become inconvenient to those in power.
Even if you somehow maintain a copy of the digital record from before the editing, how do you demonstrate that the official record is the one that got edited? It is much harder to produce a book with the right patina of age than it is to produce a digital record that is dated as being of a particular age.

Re:Dying out... (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453148)

I think you're missing the point. It is precisely because of this phenomenon that the idea of using libraries as hackerspaces makes sense. We still need the function that the library provides, even if the medium through which that function is delivered has changed. Growing hackerspaces in public libraries is a way to save them.

As for what publishers want, are we (wo)men or are we mice? If what they want is contrary to the public interest, then this is just more nail in the coffin of traditional publishing, which has in fact been dying out faster than libraries, in case you hadn't noticed.

Re:Dying out... (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453314)

If you want a book now you can get it in a digital version

Two points: First, I can "easily" get it in digital version subject to the publisher's whim, and on the publisher's terms (which are subject to change at any time), and assuming someone bothered to digitize it. That's great, until it's not. Second, *I* can easily get e-books because I can afford a computer and $50 a month for broadband access. However, not everyone is so fortunate. Internet access is expensive to someone who's paid subsistence wages and below. I think the segment of people who can't easily afford such things is larger than you think, based on the number of computer users I see when I walk into my local library.

2019... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35451930)

In 2019, a young boy walks past a bunch of stares to the librarian in charge of the hacker space, I'd like to learn about robotics and human interaction. The librarian looks up and sees one of the guys in the hacker space shake his head. "I'm sorry, but there just isn't any room right now. Try back in a year."

The youngster just holds his ground ...

You see, he's a jock - a jock whose goal is to be a scholar and an athlete. But the dorks in the hacker space can't abide by anyone who'll stay in their childish roles. Gotta be fat and smelly to work here!

....

League of Smelly Infants; not leaving without moms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35451932)

always thinking of us. how advanced. can we fetch the moms too? siblings?

Q; just who on this planet can stop us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35451998)

that's a very good question. baby rescuing is not that difficult, honestly.

Q; aren't there just too darn many of them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452142)

another excellent query. they # in the millions. many could be rescued. maybe they could they in some of the plains states? there's room. they're people. if the tables were turned? babys rule.

this one; won't they want to kill us when they get bigger?

do the math. our newer model bips have 0 instinct to kill. what about them apples? however, many of our earlier issues, although similarly equipped, somehow, were able to be trained to fear/hate/kill, again. future issues will not be subject to such backwards manipulation.

prophet of doom; isn't the planet falling apart, & it's every man for him/her/itself, as evidenced by our money shortage?

if that's how you let it happen.

Depends. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451946)

What type of country you want? do you want a country of consumers, or a country of producers?
Do you have a big population that you want to be producers?, If you have choose a country of consumers, but you don't have a solution to give everyone jobs, you have choose unemployment and discontent.

Re:Depends. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451970)

And you can't have producers without consumers to justify their production.

Re:Depends. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452052)

And your best bet is to have your consumers somewhere else. Kinda the reverse of our relationship with countries like China and India today. They produce, we consume, and sell the land out from under our own feet to pay for it.

If we can bring our kids up as bold innovators again, rather than crushing them under the bootheel of "the greatest generation" bullshit and telling them they'll never live up to grandpappy who died of black lung because he literally sacrificed his life for progress. Once we decide to ignore the contempt of the generation that valued progress over cost of massive pollution and ignore their scorn at their kids (who want to leave THEIR kids a cleaner planet). If we can leave the old stereotypes behind and recognize that progress means something different than it did back in the industrial age, then maybe Americans can raise our heads proudly again and say "yup, we're still here, and we're still a part of things."

I'll be dead by then, but there's hope.

Re:Depends. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452116)

If we can bring our kids up as bold innovators again

Well, that's one kind of production. The other kind is to toil at a production line all day, getting a wage while making someone else rich. Not everyone can be the innovator.

It seems a bit churlish to deny the muscle of the production line a little fun, spending the money they earn on consuming.

Re:Depends. (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453118)

Sure you can - you'd just be a net exporter.

How many factory workers in the Foxconn factories in China can afford the iPad 2 that they make every day?

Re:Depends. (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453196)

Um, traditionally we consume *and* produce. That's how economies work. The tragedy of recent times is that a lot of what's produced is garbage whose only purpose is to justify a salary for a consumer, often while creating a burden on society that is much greater than the salary being paid. But we can't put people on the dole--oh no, that would make them lazy.

Re:Depends. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35454046)

My point was that it has to be balanced. One person today can be more productive than ever before, thanks to modern industrial technology, automation and communications - and if one person can do more, it means less are needed to do the same amount, which means severe unemployment. The only way that has been avoided so far is to hugely increase consumption to match: People today, espicially in western countries, live a lifestyle of waste that would make their ancestors ashamed. We throw away clothes with a small tear rather than sew them up, we toss much of the food we buy in the bin. There is a whole industry, marketing, dedicated to making people buy things they don't really want or want things they don't really need.

You can run an economy unbalanced - producing more than is consumed, or vice veras - using international trade, but it creates long-term problems both politically and economically.

I do wonder if there is a limit to consumption - a point at which most people will simply decide that no, they don't need to spend any more money to be happy, no matter how much the marketing companies try to convince them.

Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452014)

And that sort of environment is not conducive to creating things. While I think Make magazine has a point, I prefer that maker spaces stay semi-private so this does not happen to them. I also want to make sure that other government agencies don't feel that it's their right to start sending the overflow of what they have to deal with to the maker spaces I enjoy.

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452166)

Avoid the symptoms, ignore the disease?

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452874)

Avoid the symptoms, ignore the disease?

And how is forcing myself to be around a bunch of people who are mostly mentally ill really helping anybody at all?

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453212)

I'm not suggesting that it would.

I just find it strange that you would interject in such a way. Public maker spaces aren't terribly likely to drive private ones out of business due to tool scheduling (especially the private ones that are currently profitable), so to cry foul when someone proposes expanding the function of a system you already claim to avoid doesn't make any sense to me.

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453574)

Well, I have not read the article, which is actually somewhat unusual for me. I was worried that the proposal was to turn maker spaces into public resources rather than leaving them as semi-private. In other words, I was worried that the idea was to do away with private ones, or make them into public ones.

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452294)

That phenomenon is hardly the fault of either homeless or public libraries.

Yes, homeless hang around libraries. It's a comfortable temperature, there's things to do other than beg for food, there are bathrooms available, and as a member of the public they have every right to be there. And they might well be taking the time to study some new job skills and the like in order to break out of the poverty they're in.

And from the public library's standpoint, their job is to serve whatever members of the public walk in the front door, whoever they are (provided that they aren't trying to do anything illegal). Those same folks that you'd love to avoid are patrons of the library just like you.

I also want to make sure that other government agencies don't feel that it's their right to start sending the overflow of what they have to deal with to the maker spaces I enjoy.

It's public. That means that just because you enjoy those places doesn't mean you have any more right to be there than anyone else.

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452860)

That phenomenon is hardly the fault of either homeless or public libraries.

Indeed it is not. And that makes libraries an environment that is neither conducive to studying or to making things. Therefor I wish maker spaces to remain semi-private. I don't want to turn them into public resources like libraries are.

I agree completely with all the points you make. My point is this makes it so libraries cannot effectively serve the mission of educating people or providing a collaborative space for people to make stuff.

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453064)

Where do you live that this is such a problem? I've never seen that kind of issue in any library in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul for those outside the U.S.) area. And we certainly have our share of homeless here, even with winters that can sometimes be brutal.

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35453288)

Where do you live that this is such a problem? I've never seen that kind of issue in any library in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul for those outside the U.S.) area. And we certainly have our share of homeless here, even with winters that can sometimes be brutal.

I've seen at least three major cities on the east coast -- in New England and the mid-Atlantic -- that have a homeless problem in their libraries. And I have seen the same thing in small cities there, too. (This does not include New York City; I haven't been in their libraries in a long time.) I suppose I am wondering why it's not a problem in your city. Perhaps the library staff has an effective policy of kicking those people out, and they know better than to try going there.

As for the homeless folks themselves: my first take is that the personal problems they bring to the library, such as smelling very bad (from alcohol, not bathing, and from defacating on themselves), looking scary, talking to themselves and perhaps having strange outbursts or even accosting the other patrons, are essentially just big exaggerations of the problems that a tiny group of normal people would bring. That being the case, and it being a public space, it's problematic to call the police to have them removed. Most of the homeless people are not merely poor or "down on their luck:, they are severely mentally ill; 20 years ago they were institutionalized or otherwise helped, but funding and support for that was mostly done away with. Now they're out on the streets. When you get more than one or two, or when you get dozens, then the public library is not a place you would enjoy. Or feel safe sending your children there.

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453618)

The Twin Cities is very non-conducive to homelessness. The bitter winters set it up so that if you're homeless in Minneapolis you have to at least be able to follow the rules of living in a shelter or you die. I know. I've lived there. It is a very minor problem in Minneapolis' public libraries, but it is not that bad.

I live in Seattle now, and it's a much worse problem here, though it's still reasonable to go into a library if you adopt a certain set of behavioral strategies designed to deal with it. I haven't been into a library in San Francisco, but I bet I would not want to be in one no matter what behavioral strategies I adopted.

Re:Libraries have become daytime homeless shelters (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453736)

The proper solution to homeless people hanging around libraries is to provide better services specifically to the homeless. There should be shelters and mental health clinics available. But I guess we'd rather give tax breaks to the rich.

As a librarian.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452062)

..this is all very hollow talk which sounds like it's coming from keen people with big ideas who want to waltz in get what they want.

Apparently they also have no idea of how difficult it is to run a library or how tight our budgets are. Hackerspaces and fablabs in a library? Where in the seven hells do you want us to put one of those, let alone pay for it? I'm not sure how things are in America but here (Under Down) we have no spare room and absolutely no budget to throw around, we get more cuts than anything else.

Don't get me wrong I love working in a modern library with an equal focus on electronics and traditional media but this - this is just empty grandiose talk from people who don't have to get their hands dirty.

Anyway, I don't want to be a downer but apparently this guy lives in a magical land where everybody shits money and cooperates and I don't.

Re:As a librarian.. (3, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452308)

I don't know how things work in Oz, but a lot of libraries in the US have formed "Friends of the Library" groups that manage and help fund things like this (or anything the local government is unwilling or unable to fund). Our local library has one, and it offers things like free passes to local museums and places of interest, kids' art programs, juried art and photography exhibits, teen programs, reading and story times, etc. All run and managed by volunteers, all supported by voluntary membership fees and donations and proceeds from things like sales of community-donated used books and modest entry fees into the art/photography shows.

The "Friends" are partners with the library, and do the sorts of things that the library lacks a budget and personnel to handle. Everything is paid for by the members of the community who wish to participate, and everything can be enjoyed by everyone whether they pay in or not. Enough people cough up $20 (or in a lot of cases a LOT more) a year that the Friends group in our community is doing quite well, and has programs going on constantly.

As a Friend of the Library ... (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452802)

You have to find people willing to do these things.

I've organized a few video game days (even donated a Wii a few years ago when they were still hard to find), but we couldn't get enough people coming to make it worthwhile; They just had another one on Wednesday (but I had a conflicting meeting), so it's possible we might start back up again.

Most of our volunteers handle things like book repairs, helping with the re-shelving, stuff like that. There's then two of us who deal with processing donations for our book sales (no, we don't want your 30 year old set of encyclopedia that's growing mold ... that's what we call 'mulch').

But our volunteers are aging (note, we have 100+ 'friends' but about 8 who come in regularly to volunteer)... there had been a time when I was the only one under 45. Now, after two families moved away, I think I'm the only one under 60. As we've got two out due to long-term injuries, we're really stretched thin ... and I've heard we've got the most active group in the whole county.

Re:As a librarian.. (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452392)

Actually, what if we separated the two? I'll go on a limb and say it's not all that impossible to run a library *if* the budget was sensible.

I'd peg this as an oblique kind of poke at how a famous few types of sacrificial lamb depts are always paraded as "times are tough" in the same paragraph that we need to get a license to live.

I'd love to see a library with untouchable private backing that the Gov can't mess with, and then it really would be a freedom center.

Moron Politician: "We need a new stealth plane. Times are tough. Let's cut the libraries."
BlackOp Library: "We need cash flow. I think I'll call the US Treasury and call in a 1$billion in illegally defaulted bonds that you didn't tell the public about."

Free pron for homeless (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452220)

I made the mistake of taking my kids to the local public library right when it opened one morning. The local shelter is across the street, so all the homeless head over the the library for Heat/AC and internets.

I would say unfettered free internet access for homeless seems to be the new library mission.

But I really don't have a problem with that. It keeps them off the street, it keeps them away from local businesses, it keeps them away from substance abuse a bit.

Personally, I would make internet access in the main hall stand up only and put in a remote "internet access room" with comfy chairs, free coffee, and separate restrooms.

I did learn to show up 15 minutes after they open to avoid the smell and stares...

Still relevant (1)

phormalitize (1748504) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452280)

Even though technology and digital content is replacing printed material for many people, the same people who use libraries now (those with lower income such as students, etc.) will still need them. Books are far less expensive than the technology needed to read digital copies; in some ways the digital revolution may make things less accessible to poor and less fortunate people. As they have previously, libraries can help bridge this disparity - I hope they come up with a feasible solution that continues to allow wide access to these materials.

Trademark application pending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452290)

"Hacker Spaces"?
Let me guess-- somewhere with wall-to-wall Arduinos, in snap-together kits bought online, catering to Arts students wanting in on the "Geek Chic"?

More of this. (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452330)

Libraries are pre-positioned all over our cities, and pretty soon they're not going to be full of bookshelves. Costs will go way down (think $10 e-readers), assuming the publishing industry doesn't win their fight to create kill switch licenses (see boycottharpercollins.com for details there).

This is a huge opportunity.

This is a chance to reinvent a great public space into a pillar of the new peer to peer economy: hacker space, certainly, but also coworking space, peer education space, a meetup space, a place to celebrate the commons in all its forms. Yes, they are strapped for cash. But meetups are cheap when you've got real estate already. And it's a lot easier to fund something that's full of users. So let's shove those shelves to the back, and start making stuff.

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35452532)

Can we put in a gun range for people that want to learn about shooting? Can we put in a clean room for do-it-yourself surgeons?

I think I'm good.. (1)

phrackwulf (589741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452558)

With things the way they are now. The public library is one of the few outposts of acceptance and quiet for extreme introverts like me and I don't buy the argument that soon they are going to be full of e-readers and everything will be on the web. There is advancement in technology but there will always be applying the best technology for the application. I'm sorry, but I will never take an e-reader to the beach with me. Sand, sun and water don't play well with it. A paperback book is going to persist forever in some form because they are an excellent fit for that application. And I can haul them around with me when I go for a run. So how about you leave the libraries alone? Cranberry flavored beer and no smoking everywhere is just fine. Child safe everything and RFID everywhere also. All I need is a nice library here and there, preferably in walking distance and maybe even a fireplace if that isn't too environmentally horrifying for you. I consider myself a reasonable person.

Activism vs. Passivism (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452666)

The only reason libraries are tolerated by the state is their abject passivism.

Turn libraries into bastions of activism and they'll be regulated/budget-cut out of existence, just like all other activist spaces that achieve some sort of legitimacy are eventually regulated out of existence or have rents raised beyond reasonable levels.

If our society really held the values that people give lip service to when they talk about libraries, they would already be bastions of activism. Complaints in this very thread about them being "daytime shelters for the homeless" reveal exactly the opposite: what people want is a "free bookstore, but keep those other people out, please." Values of community, shared investment in education and the future and all that jazz, that necessarily implies open to all, including those nasty poor people.

Re:Activism vs. Passivism (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453706)

The only reason libraries are tolerated by the state is their abject passivism.

Turn libraries into bastions of activism and they'll be regulated/budget-cut out of existence, just like all other activist spaces that achieve some sort of legitimacy are eventually regulated out of existence or have rents raised beyond reasonable levels.

If our society really held the values that people give lip service to when they talk about libraries, they would already be bastions of activism. Complaints in this very thread about them being "daytime shelters for the homeless" reveal exactly the opposite: what people want is a "free bookstore, but keep those other people out, please." Values of community, shared investment in education and the future and all that jazz, that necessarily implies open to all, including those nasty poor people.

Wasn't always like that. Check out the history of the oldest public library [wikipedia.org] :

"Chetham's Library in Manchester, England is the oldest free public reference library in the United Kingdom.[1] Chetham's Hospital, which contains both the library and Chetham's School of Music, was established in 1653 under the will of Humphrey Chetham (1580–1653), for the education of "the sons of honest, industrious and painful parents",[1] and a library for the use of scholars. The library has been in continuous use since 1653. It operates as an independent charity, open to readers and visitors free of charge.

[...]

Chetham's was the meeting place of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels when Marx visited Manchester. The economics books Marx was reading at the time can be seen on a shelf in the library, as can the window seat where Marx and Engels would meet."

an alternative (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452862)

There's no reason we couldn't create a specialized non-profit whose purpose is to provide workshop space for DIY. You don't have to repurpose existing public entities who don't have the funding, space, or expertise to implement this plan.

Re:an alternative (2)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453626)

Aren't most hackerspaces already registered as nonprofits? I know the one in Santa Barbara, California is.

can they afford the cost? (3, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453728)

Most of the towns around me have cut hours severely and even closed branches. This is a cruel irony because many unemployed people have stopped paying for home internet in favor of public internet. Many libraries are funded by property taxes, which havent gone up much lately.

O'Reilly trying to take over libraries? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35453900)

This is "Make" magazine again, the O'Reilly publishing/convention empire's attempt to 0wn the do-it-yourself movement by turning it into a cult. Looks like they're now targeting libraries.

I have a membership at TechShop, and use it regularly. TechShop is not a "hacker space". It's a machine shop. (Silicon Valley has a "hacker space", called Hacker Dojo. I took a good machine learning class there. Hacker Dojo is a place where people with no office go to work, like Starbucks.) The point of TechShop is that they offer access to large machine tools. Most of those tools are way too heavy duty for a library. TechShops have manual and CNC milling machines, a plasma cutter or water jet cutter, CNC laser cutters, a welding shop, sheet metal machinery, etc. Yesterday, TechShop SF had a crew from the power company digging up the street to put in heavier power lines.

TechShop gives about forty different "Safety and Basic Usage" courses. Each runs one to two hours, and is required before using the relevant machine. That makes the TechShop concept work. Many of them are taught in the evenings by people who use such machines as their day job. The courses cost $50 to $100 each, and the instructors are paid.

This is way beyond the public library level. Those places are tough to run, and they're still debugging the concept. The one in Silicon Valley works because there's enough engineering talent in Silicon Valley to make just about anything. It's not yet clear how San Francisco will work out.

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