Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and the need for Makerspaces in libraries is important, we all agree. I’m not backing down on the fact that all young people need to learn to code, it will be a ubiquitous skill, but we don’t want to leave the arts behind.
Hurricane, flood, wildfire, we’ve seen all of these in Bastrop County in the last few years. It’s good to know our government officials have Emergency Plans in place even though we sure hope we never need them.
Last year I was investigating all the services our library provides, and I found a little-known fact about the Bastrop Public Library
Did you know Mickey DuVall, the Library Director, is also the Shelter Officer and that the library staff develops, maintains, and runs the Emergency Shelter when it needs to open? They are folks of many talents that’s for sure.
You can find the Emergency Shelter in the new Bastrop Senior Center at 1209 Linden St., Bldg. A. It’s a beautiful new building right across from the baseball fields and next to the park.
The Office of Emergency Management has the overall responsibility for the shelter and appoints a variety of city departments to run individual components. However, Mickey and the other library employees spend a lot of time throughout the year with these responsibilities:
- The Shelter Officer must identify volunteer organizations willing to support the local shelter and to help provide mass care.
- He or she must find and coordinate with these groups and sign agreements with them.
The Shelter Officer must also coordinate and disseminate the operating guidelines.
Ensure that the facilities are staffed and equipped with needed supplies (beds, food, etc.)
Coordinate mass feeding when needed.
If the Library Director cannot fill this position, it falls to the Library Program and Public Service Supervisor and next, to the Library Technical Services Supervisor.
So, let’s give a big shout of thanks to Mickey DuVall and all the competent members of the Bastrop Public Library staff for only one of the many things they do to support our community.
If you would like to become a trained volunteer, ready to assist at the shelter if needed, please contact Mickey DuVall at the library. Please read this article on the ready.gov website to make sure your emergency go-bag is stocked.
About a year ago, Library Director Mickey DuVall shared a dream he had with the Friends of the Library and asked for our support.
“I see Bastrop being the first library in the county to have a technology center. It would have 3D printers, robotics tools, perhaps a digital recording studio- all kinds of things. These types of programs in libraries are known as MakerSpaces.”
This was the first time most of us had even heard of a MakerSpace! I had to go home and look it up.
MakerSpace? Technology Center?
A library makerspace is intended to allow community members to experience technology or activities that they previously were not able to access. As many maker spaces include technology like 3D printers, sewing machines, soldering guns, coding, robotics, and wood carving machines, patrons are invited to experiment freely.
The purpose of a maker space is often expressed to be inspiring an interest in science, technology, design, and lifelong learning in the people who are served by the library. Over time, it is expected that the available activities within each individual maker space will grow to reflect the interests of each community in which the library is housed.
Makerspaces are also intended to allow minorities or under-represented populations, like women, or people with disabilities, to become involved with technology and fields they may not have previously considered.
Are you still unconvinced? “Shouldn’t we use the money for books? Libraries are all about the books!”
But think back with me; what were the profound historical implications of the movable type printing press and then public libraries?
I have always loved books because they are genuinely egalitarian. If you can read and you have the book- you can learn anything.
Let’s Close the Digital Divide
Fair and equal access to knowledge, entertainment, and opportunity matters. And that includes digital access. It was both simple and profound for me.
Now if you know Mickey, you’ll agree he’s a very calm person. But he gets fired up about the need for technology education in the library.
“There are huge disparities of opportunity in our county,” he said. “We see it all the time here at the library. Our computers are used almost all the time either by people who have unbearably slow or even no internet access at home. Many people are being left behind, and that’s not fair.”
He’s right! Do you know what the 25 best-paying jobs will be in 2020? I was a little surprised to realize that 24 of them require STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) training and they pay an average yearly wage of $100,000.00.
There will be jobs with plenty of openings, but the annual pay is $30,000.00 in fields such as food service workers, animal care technicians, and home health care aides.
Bastrop county needs technology workers
It’s clear which will be the best career choice. I strongly believe in finding work you enjoy, but I also know the security that comes with a decent wage is essential. I think it is possible to do both.
Thirteen percent of the residents of Bastrop County live below the poverty level. Folks - that means they live on less than $24,250.00 for a family of four. To provide a better life for themselves, adults need job skills, and children need to learn modern technology. The library MakerSpace will be open to young people and adults, who want to explore new careers and strengthen existing skills.
We Can Work Together to Strengthen Our Community
Do you know the history of the early free libraries in the United States? Citizens who believed knowledge and education were the paths to a better future worked together to build buildings and gather books. We, the residents of each city, are still the ones who will drive the changes we need to see.
“This is not the first time that academic institutions, professional associations, and libraries have re-envisioned library staff skills. Library services have always evolved and now is the time for another evolution. It is an evolution that focuses on the current learning needs of youth and is an evolution that needs to happen rapidly as technology, and the ways youth interact with it, evolves rapidly. Youth need skills now to reflect the world that they currently live in and the one they will be a part of in the future.”
“Overall, when libraries across the United States support the computational, thinking, and learning needs of youth; communities will see young people who are ready to take on their futures, who have strong career options, and who are able to support and improve the economic and social vitality of the cities, towns, and reservations in which they live.” ALA Report, Ready to Code
How You Can Help
Join with me in supporting the Bastrop Public Library MakerSpace. You can help by donating money, assisting in fundraising, and sharing your skill. I am planning to learn to code and you can, too!
Even better, join the Friends, and we will work together.
Go to the library website, look at the calendar and find the next date for the MakerSpace program. Come down and check it out, I think you’ll be impressed.
We’ve all heard of CAD and 3D printers, but we may not have much understanding of what this means or why this technology is so profound.
Contrary to traditional manufacturing processes that rely on methods of cutting and drilling to carve out objects, an additive manufacturing process like 3D printing works by ‘fusing together’ layers of vinyl material to build an object.
This task is performed by a machine called a 3D printer which, under computer control, can carry out this process with unmatched precision and superior accuracy.
Applications of 3D Printing
The rapid growth and improvements in 3D printing technology have enabled many industries to benefit from it. Here are some of the industries that use 3D printing for a variety of purposes:
AEROSPACE - The technology is being used to manufacture complex yet lightweight parts for aircraft and space applications.
ARCHITECTURE - This industry utilizes this technology for structure verification, design review, reverse-structure engineering, and expedited scaled modeling.
AUTOMOTIVE - The automotive industry actively uses 3D printing technology for design verification and developing new engines.
DEFENSE - 3D printing technology in the defense sector is being utilized for making light-weight parts for surveillance equipment.
EDUCATION - 3D printing provides an excellent method for geometry visualizations and design initiatives at art schools.
ENTERTAINMENT - All kinds of prototypes of toys, action figures, games, musical equipment and, other things are being manufactured using 3D printers.
HEALTHCARE - The medical field has gained an edge because of the advancements in 3D printing. Several working organs have been created and a lot of research is being carried out. It may not be too long when organs for transplant could be easily ‘printed.’
MANUFACTURING - The manufacturing industry uses 3D printing for a variety of purposes, including creating models of products before they are manufactured on a mass scale.
Perhaps you are a craftsperson who can imagine new possibilities, you’re considering expanding career options, or you are just plain curious. Read more about the MakerSpace at the University of Texas to see what’s possible.
Visit the library’s website and click on ‘Calendar’ to see when the next MakerDay is scheduled.
“Nobody uses the library anymore.”
“Who needs libraries? Books are practically extinct!”
“Libraries are a waste of my tax money. Let ‘em all close!”
Have you heard these statements? What do you think? Are they true?
You shouldn’t always believe what people say (just in case you were thinking about it!) and no, these statements are wrong. Lots of people use the library these days. 2016 research by the Pew Research Institute showed:
- More women than men used the library in the past 12 months (54% vs. 39%).
- College graduates are more likely to use the library than those whose education ended with a high school education. (56% vs. 40%).
- Parents are more likely than non-parents of minor children to have used the library in the earlier 12 months (54% vs.43%).
So what are all these people doing at the library?
*Local Fact: Last year, 115,461 people visited the Bastrop library; 43,310 individuals used the library’s computers or internet connection, and the busy reference staff answered 23,292 questions.
What’s the most popular thing to do at the library? Make a guess, then check out the chart below to see if you’re right.
We can see that checking out books is still the most popular activity.
*Local Fact- In the fiscal year 2016-2017, patrons checked out 145,827 books and magazines.
Many areas of our rural county are without high- speed internet that allows streaming of TV shows and movies, therefore DVDs are still popular items to check out here. In fact, residents here borrowed a whopping 18,782 DVDs last year!
Moreover, according to the PEW Research Center, we can answer a resounding, “Yes!”, to the question of whether Americans are still reading books.
Why Should I Care About the Library?
Why are we discussing the value of libraries? One of the essential purposes of a Friends of the Library organization is for the members to be advocates for the library.
An advocate (noun) is someone who supports a particular cause or policy. We all need to understand the value of the library, not just individually, but to our broader community. At a recent meeting, Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape shared an interesting fact. Did you know 80% of the county budget goes to law enforcement? It is by far the most significant item that our tax dollars support.
In a future article, we will discuss the correlation between reading and education and the equally important link between academic success and criminal behavior.
When we encourage reading, lifelong learning, and other library services, we are investing in lower crime rates and taxes - and in a better future for all!