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From the Editor: Imagine That

If you could make anything that you could imagine, what would it be? Sounds like child’s play, and I mean that in the best of ways. What we’re talking about is imagination. We see today harmony between creativity and technology. Not just phones and tablets, which have transformed our lives (if not also hijacked our attention), but also 3-D printers. Now if you can see it in your mind, you can probably make it tangible. The evolution and implications of this technology are just unfolding. Will we make our own replacement parts? Lose a screw, download your 3-D printer directions. That’s just a simple idea. Imagine what else will be.

At the forefront—enthusiastically encouraging people to explore the possibilities—is the Westport Library. Check out its Maker Space and head to its annual fair for a hands-on demonstration. “Westport’s Mini Maker Faire has become the highlight of the year for thousands of people of all ages who attend, learn, experiment, and exhibit their new ideas and inventions,” says Library Director Maxine Bleiweis.

The library is a world for imagination and is opening up to technological advances—and because of that leadership position, Maxine and her staff are finding themselves in demand both near and far. “Mini Maker Faires have sprouted up in Danbury and Farmington and are based on Westport’s,” she says. “The Maker movement in libraries has been perpetuated by our introduction of the concept.”

News has also spread far since that first fair in July 2012. “Moscow is very excited!” Maxine exclaims. The librarian at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow contacted her this past summer. They had been reading about what the Westport Library was doing with the Maker movement and wanted to send a delegation here.

“In October, we hosted about twenty librarians from Russia. Their other stops were the Library of Congress and Harvard libraries, so we were in great company. They loved seeing our Makerspace and learning about our philosophy,” Maxine says. “They then invited me and my assistant director for innovation, Bill Derry, to come to Moscow to present to public librarians as their guests.” They will be joined by a presenter from the Smithsonian and the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

The conference is scheduled to take place at the end of February. I can only imagine the great ideas that will come of it!