Makerspace is a new type of service concept for libraries.

Transforming libraries into active spaces for the creators of the future

Libraries have a special role in many ways in Espoo. They have transformed themselves from the classic, quiet libraries to active meeting places and activity centres for everyone.

Even the locations of the Espoo libraries are different. They are integrated into the active environment, in the shopping centres where both the private and public sectors today offer their services.

The goal is to bring the joy of learning back to the libraries. “Paja”–makerspace in Finnish–is a new type of service concept for libraries. It brings people together to try and learn new things. New things such as 3D printing workshops, coding, programming classes, and a multitude of other courses are just a few examples of what happens in the Pajas in Espoo. 

11 years old Tobias Huczkowski, is thrilled about Paja–the library makerspace. 

“My friend told me about the place, how you can just go there and 3D-print. I was like–wow, such a place really exists?” 

Tobias has learned how to 3D-print, how to search online for 3D-print designs, how to modify the designs on the computer by changing parameters, how to change the print colour by changing print material, how to transfer the designs to a memory card. 

“I go to a website called Thingiverse, and I search for different 3D-designs available there. Then I choose one I like, a starship or something, modify it in a program and then start 3D-printing it. I put the design on a memory card, pick a suitable coloured plastic for the print and place it in the printer, insert the memory card and start the 3D-printing process. It usually takes a few hours before it's ready. While that happens I read something at the library, do my homework, or hang around with my friends.” 

Creating the culture of tomorrow 

The City of Espoo has a new cultural strategy–CultureEspoo 2030–that focuses on the impact of art and culture on future activities of the entire city. As a part of the co-creative process that created this strategy, the future of arts and culture was discussed on many fora during 2015. 

Espoo worked together with global urban planners and consultants to better understand how the new collaboration opportunities between culture and businesses can help the city to become an even more innovative cultural city. The strategy opens new doors for collaboration between art and companies and outlines the bold and open-minded moves the City’s culture sector will make in order to make a difference. 

The strategy is fuelled by Espoo’s unique features such as the city’s nature where less than half an hour by car separate the rugged Baltic archipelago from the bear-inhabited forests of the Nuuksio National Park. 

In great contrast to the wonderful nature are the dramatic changes that new technologies and services have on the way our society works. In such a world culture and arts should be seen as a valuable tool to understand ongoing changes and seek inspiration for new outcomes. 

But what is the role of the individual in the creation of tomorrow’s culture? We know that people excel when they work with things they love and that they donate time and effort when they are engaged. 

That is why CultureEspoo 2030 puts the residents into an active role in the creation of cultural services. To enable this, Espoo wants to become like a university campus, driving curiosity, new connections, experiments and learnings. That is the future direction for culture in Espoo–the city as a Creative Campus.