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“The Future is Local” – Musings from Day One of South by Southwest

2013 March 8

South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) kicked off today and as I listened to opening keynote speaker Bre Pettis, founder of Makerbot Industries, proponent of 3D printing, and a guru of the Maker culture, I was reminded yet again of  libraries’ strength and ongoing potential as promoters, curators, co-creators,  and facilitators of things uniquely “local.”  Using digitization to share unique community collections including local history;  the idea of creating and printing a graphic novel and accompanying 3D character models with local teens, perhaps as part of summer reading; and so much more.

In his presentation on the expansion of 3D printing, Maker communities, and an announcement of a soon-to-be-released desktop 3D digitizer, Pettis proclaimed our near future as the “New Industrial Revolution” where the focus is ever-increasingly on locally designed, and locally created ideas and objects.   In this “hyper-local” future libraries have a natural role, as each library’s programming and collections directly echoes the talents, skills, and needs of their communities and users.  The April, 2013 launch of the Digital Public Library of America is poised to help libraries promote their unique, local digital collections not only within their own communities, but to a wider audience as well.  Libraries such as Fayetteville Free Library (NY) are already spearheading the idea of using the technology of  library Maker spaces to incubate local talent, promote learning skills, and enhance the creativity of their users through their FFL Fab Lab.  Texas’ own Austin Public Library is also an example of a library on board as an incubator of local creativity and of maker culture with their new “crafting station” that helps their users make art from recycled books and paper.

In how many other ways are libraries using, and can libraries leverage, their traditional skills in drawing a community together, and also use the latest technology, to enhance and promote the unique elements of their collections  and the singular and special aspects of their local communities and users as we progress through 2013 and beyond?

More to come from 2013 South by Southwest Interactive!

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