Justine Boussard, Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason
The Maker Library Network (MLN) – makerlibrarynetwork.org – is an expanding network of dynamic creative spaces, which aims to mentor and shape young creative minds from South Africa, the UK and beyond. Home to a variety of design activities, these spaces host a library, makerspace and gallery; this deliberate juxtaposition seeks to emphasise the correlation between making, reading and showing, reinforcing the interdependence of these activities.
A growing number of makers and thinkers are connecting through this platform to collaborate and contribute to a body of design knowledge. It is hoped that new audiences will find inspiration through this international project – by enhancing imagination and skills, MLN studios could support community empowerment and enterprise through local involvement in design, encouraging visitors to initiate their own projects.
The MLN uses a growing resource of open designs and toolkits, which Fig.9 is thrilled to have contributed to. As design historians that actively collaborate with makers and designers, we recognise the importance of such spaces provided by the MLN. We agree that reading is a polyvalent, multipurpose skill and a gateway to knowledge. Where craftspeople have essential equipment and material needs, likewise we writers are lost without our books; so we were keen to promote the library component of these spaces.
We were interested in how people might use their time in such a space, and we wondered if we could design a guide that could aid efficiency and focus creative thought. More often than not, books take the reader from A to B on a linear trajectory from cover to cover – should the activity of reading itself always follow this model? We designed WAYS OF READING, a guide that modifies typical reading behaviour, playing with different ways of reading so that the activity becomes a creative act in itself. We hope that our toolkit can help users multiply their experiences of their chosen read, as they uncover the different layers of meaning contained therein.
To download the toolkit, please visit the MLN website
The MLN was created by Daniel Charny and developed with From Now On; the MLN was commissioned as part of ConnectZA and is supported by the British Council.