Application Number: 13
INITIATIVE: What is the title of your initiative?
RATIONALE: Why was this initiative developed? Briefly describe your vision for this initiative: what changes would you like to see in your community, in the college/university, and for the student experience?
In 2014, UBC Okanagan’s (UBCO) strategic planning process identified as a priority the expansion of collaborative, experiential learning and “living lab” opportunities both on and off campus. As a core service, research resource, and collaborative space, UBCO Library began exploring partnerships with the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) system, which supports community programs and services for over 360,000 residents of the Okanagan Valley. ORL’s Kelowna branch is currently undergoing renovations to connect it to the nearly-completed Okanagan Centre for Innovation (OCI), an accelerator hub for digital industry. To support the cross-pollination of spaces and programs with the OCI, UBCO and ORL launched an Innovation Library: a UBC Library satellite hub located in ORL’s Kelowna branch, representing an unique project in North America. We now seek funding to create the Innovation Lab, a public maker space that will build on the existing partnership, utilizing already-committed space and technological and programmatic innovation to create an unique space for technology-enhanced, collaborative engagement for faculty, students, and community members.
GOVERNANCE AND PARTNERSHIPS: Who will oversee and manage the initiative? How does it connect with other local, regional, or national projects or networks?
The British Columbia provincial government is targeting growth in the technology sector. With developing infrastructure, including the new OCI and the support of two post-secondary institutions, Kelowna is positioning itself within this agenda. Libraries contribute to this new ecosystem through provision of free, publicly accessible programs and services. The proposed public maker space will exist within ORL’s Kelowna branch, with project implementation jointly managed by ORL and UBCO Library staff. Equipment purchased with grant funding will be maintained by ORL, with funds administered through UBCO. As project lead and lead collaborator, Berringer and Hall will create a steering committee to implement and oversee activities of the Innovation Lab. Day to day operation of the facility will be managed by ORL, while UBCO and Okanagan College (OC) will collaborate in acquisition of required technology and program development and delivery.
OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES: Briefly describe the activities of the initiative: when did it start, what organizations and departments are participating? Give a few examples of what participants will be doing.
Maker spaces are creative, DIY spaces to gather, create, invent, and learn. In libraries, they often have 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and tools, and more. Activities for all ages include everything from LEGO challenges, to digital music and movie projects, to think tanks and community or business ventures. ORL has already committed the space and budget for the renovations to create a maker space. The requested McConnell Foundation funding will support the purchase of a wide variety of technology (broken down into three components, with a total cost of $22,500), as well as 12 months worth of public programming ($27,500). “Play” technology ($3000): relatively inexpensive and simple-to-use tech toys are an important aspect of a maker space. These are used for staff to lead programming, and made available for self-guided activities, putting the power of making and design thinking directly into the hands and minds of participants. Examples include items such as LEGO, Squishy Circuits, littleBits, and components for simple electronics projects (batteries, motors, soldering irons). “Serious” technology ($11,500): our goal with bringing making technologies into the library is to provide a space where every interested individual in our community can learn from and interact with these machines. Examples include stationary and portable 3D printers, and a vinyl cutter. Computing hardware and software ($8000): to enable and teach design we require high performance desktop computers, laptops, and creative design software (e.g.: Arduino, Sketchup, Netfabb, OpenSCAD, Gimp, Adobe Creative Suite) Programming for the Lab, facilitated by all three founding partners and invited collaborators from the community, will range from low barrier self-guided options, through introductory classes, certification, digital literacy instruction, camps, and special events such as hack-a-thons, where groups use available technologies and data to solve a specific social issue facing the community.
STRATEGIC LEARNING: What will success look like both in the short-term and the long-term? How are you assessing results? What will you do with this information, and with whom are you sharing lessons?
Very little research has been conducted in the area of maker spaces and their impact on cities. This collaboration between a public library and post-secondary institutions provides an opportunity to formally evaluate how users engage with the tools, technology, and programming available in such spaces. A recent report by the National League of Cities’ Centre for City Solutions and Applied Research (http://www.nlc.org/Documents/Find%20City%20Solutions/Research%20Innovation/Economic%20Development/Maker%20Movement%20Report/Maker%20Movement%20Report%20final.pdf) recommends that investment in education, resource sharing, and continued research and development of best practices is essential to the growth of maker movement. This project brings together the parties required to facilitate these components.
Would you consider your initiative to be a social enterprise?
Does the proposed initiative have potential to be applied elsewhere in Canada? If yes, please explain.
We conducted an environmental scan of maker spaces in North America and could not find any formal joint initiatives between a PSE and public library. If successful, this initiative could be implemented in any city in which there exists both a public library and at least one PSE.
1. APPROACH: Which departments are involved in this initiative? How will they work with community organizations, social enterprise, local government and within post-secondary institutions (i.e. with professors, administration and students)?
UBC Okanagan is the lead institution for the purpose of this project, and Chief Librarian Heather Berringer is the lead applicant. At UBCO, participation will be solicited from faculty, administration, staff and students from the Office of the Vice Principal Research, School of Applied Science, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Management, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, and Office of the Associate Vice-President, Students. As a collaborator, Okanagan College’s Library, Engineering Technologies, and Computer Information Systems programs will provide support for the project, as will as the Okanagan School of Business. Through the duration of this project, we will engage with Accelerate Okanagan and Okanagan Centre for Innovation for future collaborative projects and programming. UBCO co-op student staffing will help get the space up and running, and assist public library staff to become comfortable working with the equipment throughout the first year of operation. In the long term, ORL is committed to library staff positions proficient at teaching to the certification level on the various pieces of equipment, troubleshooting, and working with the suppliers tech support to solve technical issues. These staff will continue working with student volunteers from a variety of UBC and OC programs – engineering, computer science, education, the arts and trades – as well as cultivating an environment that encourages peer support and community based expertise. Allowing people to take responsibility for their own initial making activities builds confidence and develops the kind of peer support environment essential to the long-term success of this space.
2. INFLUENCING POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS: Will research or teaching within the post secondary institution you are a part of or working with be changed as a result of this initiative? How will the administration staff, faculty, and students be involved and recognized for their accomplishments within the college/ university?
Partnered with the UBC Innovation Library project, this further collaboration has the potential to benefit UBCO and OC students engaged in community-based learning, experiential learning, and co-operative education placements, and to support faculty members interested in community-centred research opportunities and knowledge mobilization initiatives including regional socio-economic development projects in and with communities. The partnership also engages directly with community members by supplementing traditional public library offerings with academic research support and resources. This initiative provides a further opportunity to strengthen UBCO’s presence in the community, develop joint programming initiatives with ORL and OC faculty, staff, students, and community experts, promote UBC and OC resources and programs to the greater Okanagan community, and participate in events, projects, and committees that bring together post-secondary institutions, libraries, the business community, social organizations, and the community-at-large.
IMPACT: What will you be able to accomplish now that you could not before the collaboration? In what way will your organization work differently as a result of this initiative?
Technology and entrepreneurship are cornerstones of the new Kelowna economy, and a maker space enables citizens to develop the skills they need to thrive in this environment. Situating such a project in the public library ensures that learning opportunities will be made broadly available to all members of society. With this partnership, ORL will be able to offer equitable access to technologies that support design thinking, STEM learning, creativity, and a maker ethic, all of which are qualities sought after in the current skills-based job market. During public consultations about the renovation plans for the Kelowna Branch of Okanagan Regional Library the strongest public support was for a maker space to be included in the library. There are already active groups of makers working independently in the city, and there is great interest in having a public space where people can meet others and work together. This collaborative project will strengthen the library as a community hub; support collaboration, entrepreneurship, and creativity; create partnerships within the community and post-secondary education sector; mine potential within the existing library facility; and create collaborative spaces with minimum impact on existing systems and structure but with maximum impact on programming and space. Beyond enhancing the space, the partnership will further formalize relationships between ORL, UBC, and OC, enabling development of a robust framework for engaging student experts in building and delivering rich programming in our Innovation Lab beyond the term of the initial student co-op positions.
Ms Heather Berringer
Phone Number: 250-807-9126
Ms Stephanie Hall
Phone Number: 250-860-4033, ext. 2491
Ms Shirley Hutchinson
Ms Laura Thorne
Other relevant information/comments
Additional Collaborator: Ross Tyner (Library Director, Okanagan College), 250-762-5445, x.4665, firstname.lastname@example.org