MLN in Cape Town by Owen Martin ©

Owen Martin

The Maker Library Network (MLN) is a British Council Connect ZA (CZA) project dedicated to connecting makers across South Africa and the UK. The Maker Library Network was officially launched on 1 March 2014 by Daniel Charny, the network’s Creative Director, and leading British architect, Thomas Heatherwick. The Maker Library Network was initially developed as part of the British Council’s Connect ZA season with founding Maker Libraries based in Cape Town, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Network is currently expanding globally.

Maker Libraries are workspaces defined by three key elements: a library, a makespace and a gallery. Each Maker Library is led by a librarian who is interested in fostering creative, social thinking and learning through making by running a dynamic programme of activities and workshops. As an active member of the MLN community, the librarian has an opportunity to contribute, connect and learn with like-minded people. Librarians in each country will be able to share and adapt the MLN principles for their local conditions and locations; whether in their studio, in the corner of a café, or in a purpose built travelling vehicle. Maker Libraries exist as an addition to already existing businesses and support the practices and exploration of that space.

When a Maker Library is set up, the librarian receives a starter kit which includes a blueprint and materials budget to build a library, a core set of books, a growing resource of open designs and access to a panel of mentors via an online platform.

In South Africa, the local Maker Libraries have been running dynamic programme of activities and workshops. Most recently, as part of British Council Connect ZA’s month long celebration of Innovation, a Maker Library popped up in Braamfontein, attracting the interest and attention of young makers and creatives in Johannesburg’s inner city creative district.