Bastrop Public Library Can Be A Technology Leader

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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.