As information becomes more digital, public libraries are striving to redefine their roles. A small number are working to create “hackerspaces,” where do-it-yourselfers share sophisticated tools and their expertise.
The Allen County Public Library, which serves the city of Fort Wayne, Ind., has a modest hackerspace inside a trailer in its parking lot. Library director Jeff Krull says hosting it is consistent with the library’s mission.
“We see the library as not being in the book business, but being in the learning business and the exploration business and the expand-your-mind business,” he says. “We feel this is really in that spirit, that we provide a resource to the community that individuals would not be able to have access to on their own.”
The 50-foot trailer is known as the Maker Station and belongs to TekVenture, an educational nonprofit that had struggled to find a building it could afford before it was approached by the library. TekVenture signed an agreement with the library to operate in its parking lot for a year. TekVenture President Greg Jacobs says this partnership made sense.