I want a health-themed maker faire. I want it so bad I can TASTE it! And I want it to happen, like, yesterday. Or right now. But let me back up. Here’s what happened. Monday, April 14, 2014, Barbara Stripling came to town to talk about the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. You can read more about her morning talk in the Storify.
— P. F. Anderson (@pfanderson) April 14, 2014
To abbreviate DRASTICALLY, the gist of the idea is that libraries overwhelmingly change lives for the better, and that people everywhere have a right to the resources that will support them in taking charge of changing their lives for the better. One of the ways in which libraries have traditionally helped people change their lives for the better is through providing free access to information, education, and entertainment. That’s what Andrew Carnegie was thinking about when he funded the creation of thousands of free public libraries.
“Increase our wages,” the workers demanded. “What good is a book to a man who works 12 hours a day, six days a week?” Nasaw says Carnegie thought he knew better and replied to his critics this way: “If I had raised your wages, you would have spent that money by buying a better cut of meat or more drink for your dinner. But what you needed, though you didn’t know it, was my libraries and concert halls. And that’s what I’m giving to you.” How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune Into A Library Legacy http://www.npr.org/2013/08/01/207272849/how-andrew-carnegie-turned-his-fortune-into-a-library-legacy
One of the ways in which libraries have more recently helped people change their lives for the better is through providing free access to the Internet, software, printers, makerspaces, 3d printers, and a wide variety of other tools and resources and skills that empower people to make things to better their lives, and which they could not afford to try if they had to buy the necessary resources out of their own personal budgets. From baking special holiday cakes to commemorate old family traditions with pans from the library to creating a new career and developing new marketable skills, the library can be the place.
“I had these inventions in my head but didn’t know I could make them myself,” Roth explained. So he spent his remaining dollars on a membership and a few introductory courses… Fast forward a few years to spring 2013. Roth is now an entrepreneur with a funded laser company… His dream is to build his own version of TechShop called “the Learning Shelter” that specifically caters to the homeless.” Homeless to hacker: How the Maker Movement changed one man’s life http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/16/homeless-to-hacker-how-the-maker-movement-changed-one-mans-life/
That quote is about Marc Roth, who was homeless when he used his assistance money to purchase a membership to a local makerspace. Perhaps the nicest thing about makerspaces in public libraries is that you don’t need to purchase a membership!
Well, towards the end of Barbara’s talk, seemingly almost as an afterthought, she mentioned that the White House is sponsoring its first Makerfaire! And, naturally, the American Library Association is talking with them about this. Barbara gave warm praise to Kristin Fontichiaro, a University of Michigan faculty member who is working with makerspaces in schools and libraries. And then she said something like, “If any of the rest of you have ideas for innovative work in this space that we should be keeping in mind, please come see me after the talk.”
Well, I wasn’t first in line, but I was most definitely in line. I wanted to ensure that when the Maker Movement / Makerspaces / Maker Faires are discussed, health is not forgotten. Every Maker Faire I’ve attended has had multiple presenters talking about something related to health. I have lots of ideas, and lots of examples. So Barbara then said, “Email me. I’ll try to include this topic in our conversations with the White House. But. Keep it short. Not TOO many examples!” That’s why I started this blogpost. I have literally thousands of links to examples of maker activity connected with health. How to choose just the few most important ones? ARGH!!
I scribbled notes and ideas all day, searching related topics and shoving links into a file as fast as I can, when I realized I’ve done it again. I had too much to start with, and now I had even MORE too much! The challenge / opportunity lies in that, when you really look closely at it, EVERY tool, technique, or technology involved in the Maker Movement is or has, can or could, or should be used in healthcare! That’s a LOT of opportunity. And that’s how this grand adventure started.