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Maker Library Network Think Tank

4 April 2016

On Friday 1st April, the Maker Library Network convened for the first network wide gathering. The event brought together participants from 18 Maker Libraries, and project teams across 10 countries, online and in person at Machines Room in London.

Three digital platforms; Fuze, Slack and Coggle were piloted to connect online participants to activities in the room, masterminded by the design studio Cohere. The day consisted of presentations and discussions around what is being made and thought about across the Maker Library Network, providing ideas and thematic focus for the project going forward. The event was followed by the launch party of the newest addition to the MLN - Maker Library: East London Printmakers.


Here are a few highlights from the afternoon’s event:

Snapshot of the Network : The afternoon kicked-off with reflections from participants on what the Maker Library means for them, their practice, and their communities, through sharing and explaining a single photograph representing a recent activity.

Making and connecting with local communities - in a highly practical sense – was explored in South Africa’s chosen image, presented by Project Manager Janine Johnston. On screen, two visiting UK Maker Librarians huddled over a child’s makeshift go-cart in need of repair, represented some of the impact MLN programmes are having in local communities, and the wider network it has built between cities in South Africa. Keeping local crafts traditions alive was the focus of workshop reflections from Nur Saltik, who leads ATOLYE Istanbul’s Maker Library in Turkey, a collective of independent makers, designers and architects. ‘A platform for inspiration and for making new connections, which in turn benefits our practice’ was the sentiment from Gunnar Groves-Raines, Maker Librarian at GRAS studio, Edinburgh. Gareth Owen Lloyd, our host and Maker Librarian from Machines Room, presented a newly designed residency programme which encompasses 1 local, 1 international, and 4 semi-permanent residents at their Maker Library, beginning this summer. The network also heard from the Strategic Director of Machines Room, Nat Hunter. The residency format of the Maker Library has, according to Nat, allowed Machines Room to have a different voice each month, providing a physical space for critical design and critical making.


Mapping Interests: In this session interactive group discussions took place, both online and face-to-face, enabling the network to collectively propose, debate, and select the networks’ upcoming focus; from cross-generational exchange to the language of making. Using the online platform Coggle, groups explored themes and mapped them online, providing fuel for discussions and inspiration for future MLN projects.  


Open Design: Daniel Charny, Creative Director of the Maker Library Network, and Josh Worley of Open Desk, took to the stage to lead a collaborative discussion on open design. The conditions under which something is truly open and can be shared, is a key question for those who use and make open source designs, where downloadable files can be used and adapted to make things. The open source approach enables design and making to become one, activating ‘prosumers’; a consumer who plays an active part in creating the end product and, as a result, places a higher value on it. Excitingly, Gareth Owen Lloyd presented the first Maker in Residence desk prototype, in collaboration with James Tooze, which will be available as an open source file online this summer.  

The appetite for connections between maker communities, both local and globally, was apparent from the discussions during the day, and we’re interested in how the Maker Library Network can continue to provide a platform for this engagement.

To keep up to date with this growing community of makers, check out the new online home of the Maker Library Network.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the event, we’re already excited about doing it again!

British Council Project