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Posted by on aug 15, 2013 in Bibliotheek, Innovatie, Mediawijsheid | 0 comments

3D printen in de bibliotheek: David Lankes trekt de discussie breed

3D printen in de bibliotheek: David Lankes trekt de discussie breed

Mijn werkochtend begon met het lezen van de blogpost 3D Printing in Libraries Around the WorldHet was de zoveelste bevestiging van het eenzijdig focussen op het apparaat en niet op de beweging waarvan het deel uitmaakt. Auteur Riel Gallant stelt weliswaar dat het bij veel bibliotheken ontbreekt aan visie op de inzet van een 3D printer, maar bedoelt daarmee weinig anders dan het niet beschikbaar zijn van huisregels inzake gebruik van het apparaat.

In navolging daarvan, het moest waarschijnlijk zo zijn, stuitte ik op een al wat oudere blogpost getiteld Mission creep: A 3d Printer Will Not Save Your Library. Hierin stelt de Australische bibliothecaris Hugh Rundle onomwonden dat

Messing around with 3D printing is not a feature of modernity. It is a symbol of failure.

Dat is wel wat kort door de bocht, maar hij heeft zeker een punt, ware het niet dat zijn uitleg er één is die weer alleen gaat om het apparaat en de vraag of 3D prints content of container zijn. Helaas gaat iedereen die reageert op zijn verhaal mee in deze wat academische discussie. Interessant, dat wel, maar nog steeds voorbijgaand aan de vraag waarom en hoe inzet voor een bibliotheek wel/niet verantwoord en zinvol kan zijn.

Gelukkig nam David Lankes daarom de moeite op zijn eigen blog te reageren op de stellingname van Rundle en het in een breder verband te trekken dan de content/container discussie. En dat doet hij op voortreffelijke wijze. Zijn sterkste formulering staat echter niet in de lopende tekst, maar in één van de reacties die hij geeft in de discussie naar aanleiding van zijn eigen verhaal. Bij deze daarom het transcript daarvan, want het is een essay op zich.

The assumption you make is that the library must use it’s own resources exclusively to take on these new tasks. In other words, if libraries support small scale manufacturing and prototyping, all or some librarians must become fully versed in g-code. I would agree that becoming expert in g-code and computer assisted routers and the like don’t fit the core mission…but the core mission is about facilitating the community. That is more than just buying the stuff and becoming experts. Librarians long ago threw away that cooke (we can’t collect Shakespearean texts because we don’t have Ph.D.’s in English Textual Studies). Instead librarians are facilitators that work to access and develop community expertise. So do we need g-code librarians? Nope. Do we need community members committed to teaching it? Absolutely. If a community member teaches it and not a librarian, is it still a library service? Yes. Aside from the library facilitating the learning, the community has defined it as such.

So maybe the person running the MakerSpace is not a librarian at all…or even paid by the library? Just as the Manga print collection may be managed by a teenaged interest group. In the community-centric view of the library the question is not what fits into some librarian-only defined mission of the library around information, but rather a librarian/community defined operational mission around knowledge development and community improvement. To be sure the librarian part of that conversation will talk about resources, privacy, access, and the common good.

Last thought: I want to be clear that I don’t think 3D printing or small scale manufacturing is right for every community, and therefore every library. One of the things I very much agreed with in Hugh’s original post was his stand against a technolust herd mentality where every library must do the same thing or jump on the same bandwagon. Why should a library in Seattle look and operate the same way a library in New Orleans, or Parish, NY does? Or for that matter a library in the Congo, or Russia, or Japan? Libraries should reflect their communities and the uniqueness of them.

So will the future of the library look a lot more like shop class than literature class – depends on the community. Remember that the term academia came from the gymnasium used by Plato, and I think universities need to look a lot more like places to work out ideas, than simply note and test them.

The common mission for me across librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation within their communities. How that is done MUST reflect the society to be improved (what does improve mean?) and the community that is seeking knowledge.
If this conversation on small scale manufacturing does one thing I hope it raises awareness of the assumption that libraries have a single mission that we must all fit in the same services and approaches. Diversity within the library community should be celebrated – diversity of ideas as much as diversity of race and creed. It will not lead to some dissolution of the profession, but strengthen it, because as librarians we remain united in a cause around learning and knowledge. Look at this conversation. It is a conversation of librarians that started with a technology and service, but has been much richer in exploration of the nature of information and mission. We have public librarians, academic, academic librarian, an consultants joining in and feeling at home with a diversity of views. It is not, as too many conferences have become, “how we do it good where we are.” This is the level of discourse that identifies a profession (and a noble one at that), and not simply a trade.

In een artikel in de aankomende editie van Informatie Professional zal ik overigens ook ingaan op de rol van 3D printers en aanverwante zaken in bibliotheken.

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