My first day in Bremen
I’ve arrived here in Germany! I have been looking forward to this conference for months and have been meaning to introduce myself for as long. I’m Meg Backus from Chattanooga, Tennessee where I lead the 4th floor project among other things. The 4th floor is a space that provides access to tools to facilitate content creation. It’s our response to the growing importance and complexity of participatory culture. Think about how the Internet moved from read only to read/write. The 4th Floor is the locus of that same transition in the physical library. It’s a place that appreciates the immense amount of learning and opportunity encased in Do-It-Yourself projects and peer-to-peer sharing.
I adore the theme of libraries opening worlds. Teaming up with the Zukunftswerkstatt, the technology I’m bringing is all designed to encourage the opening up of things. Looking inside the box is an ethic that applies not just to electronic devices, but to all the systems at work in society, which is why a hacker-/makerspace is such a good fit for a library. Libraries are hackerspaces avant la lettre!
In my suitcase: 2 Makey Makeys, Chromebooks intended to run Scratch (an easy introduction to programming environment) and pair brilliantly with the Makey Makeys,a handful of assorted Arduinos, a smattering of sensors and other electronic components, and lots + lots of LEDs, batteries (of the loose lithium variety that drive airlines nuts), and small, strong magnets, which always come in handy. I’m leading a workshop to play with Scratch and the Makey Makeys, but there is much more to these tools/toys than we will have time to reveal this week. If you are inclined to experience the joy of physical computing and you will have a laptop (Windows, OS X, Linux), downloading the Arduino software (free) will give you a jump on trying this out.
I’m also very excited to share more about what we’re up to at the public library in Chattanooga–just 2 years ago I saw a picture of a big empty cement box of a room that was the 4th floor and it was enough to compel me to move to Tennessee to create the public library that should exist. I’m equally eager to talk with everyone more generally about some of the major challenges, shifts, and opportunities I see for all types of libraries, and to hear others‘ thoughts. It’s a pretty important time for us to be thinking as hard as we can about what we do or what we might do.
Can’t wait to meet you. If you have recommendations for places to go or see in Germany within a few hours (by rail) of Germany, I am all ears. I will have a few days of touring after the Deutsche Bibliothekartag wraps up.