Recording booths. 3D printers. Adobe Creative Suite. All these and much more can be found at the ideaMILL, a dedicated collaborative technology and work space that recently opened in the Millennium Library.
Information and virtual services librarian Arryn Seburn says the idea to create a space with public access to expensive tools and software has been in development for a while.
“It came out of our strat(egic) plan back in 2015,” he says. “We heard from the community that a community workspace is something they’d like to have, so from there we launched into what would be in that community workspace.”
Although makerspaces have been around for some time, when the library consulted Winnipeggers on what they wanted to see in the space, they got some surprising results.
“We weren’t reinventing the wheel, but we wanted to hear what the community wanted to have. We did a quick little survey on our website on what pieces of technology and non-tech stuff they’d want to have in here. Computers was obviously a big one. Sound recording was up there, but the one that surprised us the most was the sewing machines. We haven’t heard that in a lot of other community spaces.”
Philip Edwards’ son Micah is participating in one of the ideaMILL’s many introductory software and technology workshops. Edwards says that the ideaMILL was the perfect way for his son to explore his interest in computers.
“It was through the Winnipeg library magazine that my wife heard about the ideaMILL and the course they’re running right now,” Edwards says.
“My son likes playing with computers, so we thought it would be a good idea to be exposed to what’s out there, and he said, yeah, sure, he wanted to come today ... The ideaMILL came along at the right time, and if they have more classes like this, then for sure I know our son will want to be part of it.”
Edwards believes that ventures like the ideaMILL allow public spaces like the library to become more accessible, particularly for newcomers to Winnipeg.
“I guess the city is trying to make (the library) more user-friendly, a place where people who don’t have the experience of our Canadian culture can become more aware and more acclimated to our culture. I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
Edwards says that he sees the ideaMILL as part of a larger civic plan to help all Winnipeggers become more nationally and locally conscientious.
“It’s much like the (Canadian Museum for Human Rights), where (the city is) trying to expose themselves to a cross-section of people so that people are more aware, more thoughtful, more caring.”
Seburn imagines the ideaMILL as a space where knowledge and skills can be shared.
“It’s for everyone ... My goal or my hope for the space is that it becomes a hangout for people who are wanting to learn and people who already have those skills to be able to share them.”
The ideaMILL is open during library hours on the third floor of the Millennium Library. All equipment can be accessed using a library card and can be booked in advance through winnipeg.ca/ideamill.
Published in Volume 73, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 15, 2018)