Testing Assumptions: The first few steps of phase 2

Make it @ Your Library has been fortunate enough to have been awarded a Prototype Fund Grant from the truly remarkable Knight Foundation. Honored is too weak of a word to describe how it feels to see our names on the same list as the other winners of the Knight News Challenge on Libraries. Phase 2 for Make it @ Your Library is going to be circulating maker tool kits, and the Knight Foundation has given us $35,000 and six months to make sense of how to do so.

But one interesting thing about the Prototype Fund that we've been made to understand is that it's not just likely but desirable that in June we will have ended up someplace different than we intended to be. The very nature of this grant seems to be based upon the fact that there aren't many opportunities in life to experiment without fear of disappointing those connected to your endeavor. Our team is going to legitimately try to create a prototype to circulate maker tool kits between libraries. We can't call this idea new -- there have been many types of physical kits circulated from a library before (even garden tool kits). And even amongst our colleagues in the Chicagoland area, there has been discussion and attempts at this.

But here's where it gets kind of interesting. The Knight Foundation has asked Prototype winners to test our assumptions. Yesterday our team met to do some preliminary sketching out of our project. And after a rousing, happy 20 minutes of the mechanics of how we might do this, we remembered about testing our assumptions.

Assumption #1: Do library staff want maker tool kits for their communities?

When you can see why something is a good idea, it's always a strange mix of infuriating, baffling, and defeating when other people do not. (The people who see your idea as not good probably feel similiarly about you, to be fair) Returning to the idea of Assumption #1: Librarians who are our professional friends are like-minded, but also a relatively homogenous sort of person, despite the variation in the libraries they work for. Make it @ Your Library feels relatively sure that if we brought up this idea to them, they'd be game. But what about library staff who are not like us? Does the idea of doing a program with Little Bits or 3Doodler Pens sound hellish to them, or intriguing? 

This is one thing we're hoping to figure out. We also hope to show people who are a little fearful of the idea that the maker movement in libraries is fun, interesting and useful to our communities. Yesterday we began discussing the nitty-gritty of how.