There is a growing trend internationally toward the co-location and affiliation of libraries with hacker and makerspaces – for example, in the United States, where Chattanooga Public Library has spear-headed calls for libraries to adapt to reflect our increasingly ‘read/write’ world, and in relation to innovative UK-based projects like St Botolph’s Waiting Room, with its Give-Get Library in Colchester and partnership with Essex Libraries.
The current 10-year Strategic Framework for Arts Council England identifies Resilience and Sustainability as a key goal in the context of austerity, recognising that the arts and cultural sector must be able to adapt to changing circumstances, without compromising its core values and the quality of its work. The Arts Council also recognises that the sector must learn from examples of organisations that have successfully developed new sources of income.
Common Futures has worked with the Carnegie UK Trust, The Creative Coop and Colchester School of Art to develop an innovative business model in relation to St Botolph’s Waiting Room. Together, partners have developed a ‘borrow/barter/buy/bespoke’ approach to business integration for library-hack-maker spaces, which is designed to help maintain the ethos of a library where its function to ‘facilitate access to all’ is concerned, in addition to introducing an income generation dimension to operations.
We are therefore pleased to announce that we will be taking steps to prototype an income generating Library-Hack-Maker Space Network with international reach with a grant from Arts Council England over the coming weeks and months. The project aims to better understand the potential for library-hack-maker spaces, and affiliations between libraries and hack/maker spaces, to enhance the resilience and sustainability of libraries in future. It will involve Common Futures working with representatives from 4th Floor Chatt and St Botolph’s to support four prototypes in the first instance.