Library Plans: the MediaLab

By Leah Curley, Pettes Memorial Library 

As the Town of Brome Lake embarks on its revitalization plan for Coldbrook Park – right behind Pettes Memorial – the Library too is preparing to begin an exciting new chapter. This article is the first in a series about the resources, programs, services and activities Pettes hopes to offer the community. 

Hackerspace, fablab, innovation space, makerspace… the concept is known by many names. The first MediaLab appeared at Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1985. Today these inspiring spaces are popping up in schools, community centres – and in libraries, like our own Pettes Memorial Library. 

Wikipedia defines it as a computer lab or media production studio, but a MediaLab is so much more. Informed by the Maker Movement, these often small but highly flexible spaces offer inspiring materials aimed at nurturing creativity, collaboration and the sheer joy of learning. From repurposed pizza box cardboard and plastic container lids to glue guns and lego, from 3D printers, laser cutters and digitizers to video and audio equipment, MediaLabs promote a do-it-yourself philosophy in a learning-by-doing setting. They foster STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) disciplines along with valuable social and personal growth skills, like teamwork, self-confidence and the resilience that comes from creative problem-solving. 

A strong proponent of maker culture and the medialab concept is Italy’s Reggio Emilia education theory and practice, an approach widely recognized as one of the world’s highest quality early child- hood programs. But it’s not just for kids. “Our goal in creating a medialab is to provide all age groups and families a fun and creative learning space,” said Jana Valasek, executive director of Pettes Memorial Library. “It’s a big investment, but it’s the kind that really pays dividends, socially and educationally. We will work very hard to raise the funds we need to do this!” 

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