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San Jose Public Library Helps Fuel Silicon Valley's Maker Movement




Steven Brewster

San José Public Library,

(415) 577-8851;


Upcoming free event harnesses maker mentality to further bring 21st Century relevance to beloved community institution


San José, Calif., March. 6, 2014—San José Public Library (SJPL) will host Innovate, Create, Discover: Spark Your Maker Mentality!, 6-9 p.m., Wed., March 19, Room 225 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 150 E. San Fernando Street in downtown San José.  The free event, a collaboration with TechShop, CreaTV San José and San José State University, will build upon Silicon Valley’s longstanding culture of tinkering that has fueled waves of innovation in the region for decades.


"Many of modern society’s most profound discoveries were created here in San José and Silicon Valley, and are the result of someone with an idea in mind and the ability to bring it to life," said Jon Worona, head of innovation and technology, SJPL.  "More than ever, people here are harnessing that legacy, breaking out of the role of consumer and becoming creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs."


To get the community into maker mode, Innovate, Create, Discover: Spark Your Maker Mentality!, will feature a hands-on digital storytelling and music video production, 3-D printing basics, dog tag-engraving, innovative dessert decorations, and leather mask-making, among other activities. 


The evening will also include a demonstration of dueling Frisbee-throwing robots, designed by the award-winning San Joséstudent teams: Bellarmine College Preparatory’s "The Cheesy Poofs" and Notre Dame High School’s "Janksters."


"Libraries are becoming creative spaces that combine reading, making and showing. This new type of library, while encouraging local community engagement, is also part of a new international movement fostering creative, social thinking and life-long learning through making," said Jill Bourne, city librarian, SJPL.  "We here in San José want to be a key node to that movement and incorporate it into the community’s overall knowledge infrastructure."


Just as the library offers the community with the information resources to fulfill their interests or undertake a specific project, such as pottery, a house remodel, or a garden redesign, libraries are also providing the tools to make those projects a reality.


"Libraries around the world have begun offering patrons access to 3-D printers, soldering and circuit design workshops, coding classes, e-textile craft nights, and more. This is a win for everyone: people have begun to take advantage of these resources and are walking out of the library with new skills that can lead to success in school, career, self-expression, and entrepreneurship," said Worona. "By partnering with public and private-sector organizations, it’s our hope to foster the spirit of maker culture here in the region."


For more details about the Innovate, Create, Discover: Spark Your Maker Mentality!, visit the gathering’s Facebook Event page.


About San José Public Library

San José Public Library (SJPL), located in the Capital of Silicon Valley, is the largest public library system between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Serving a culturally diverse population of nearly 980,000 in the country's 10th largest city, SJPL is one of the busiest library systems nationwide with an annual checkout rate of 11 million items. Award-winning staff strives to ensure library services reflect the city’s rich diversity and that every library customer’s experience is exceptional. SJPL is recognized for its innovation and leadership. It was named the 2004 Thomson Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year and recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for a library.




Great Graphic Novels! Pluto by Naoki Urasawa

 “Comics are just for little kids, right?”

I hear that quote all the time and from people of all walks of life both teens and adults.  Even some who read comic books will reluctantly agree.  And who can blame them?  The big eyes, colorful pictures, and fast paced action certainly seem to be aimed at children.


Of course, no one told that to Naoki Urasawa.

Astro Boy Volume 1 Pluto Volume 2

Naoki Urasawa, author of Monster and 20thCentury Boys, is not your usual manga writer. You won’t find outlandish facial expressions, ridiculous hair styles, or unbelievable sight gags.  Instead you’ll find realistic characters, multilayered storylines, and complex mysteries.   Take a look at the two manga covers at the bottom of the page.  The first is from Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy.  The second is from Naoki Urasawa's Pluto.  Both covers depict the same character, and tell the same story but Pluto radically transforms  one of Astro Boy’s first adventures into a complex mystery full of intrigue, betrayal and secrecy. 



Pluto follows Geist, a German police officer investigating the murder, one by one, of the world’s strongest robots.  The trail he follows leads across the globe, into a world radically changed by the introduction of robotic labor, and also into the past, exploring the terrible consequences of the 39th Middle-East War. 



It pulls no punches portraying the gritty consequences of conflict and the quest for weapons of mass destruction.  However, Urasawa does so by humanizing the characters, even (or rather especially) the robots.  Each of them -from the very human Astro Boy to the monstrously inhuman Pluto- feel real to the reader. You can’t help but empathize with them even as you are reminded of their inhuman origin.  Each chapter revealed new layers of the mystery and answered questions implied, by never asked in earlier in the series and even as I mourned the loss of favored characters, I loved how the story unfolded drawing me deeper into the plot volume by volume. 


Pluto is a compelling mystery, one that treats the future as respectfully and honestly as any Asimov or Heinlein novel.  Point to it the next time that someone dismisses the graphic novel you read as "childish" or use the ideas Pluto explores to debate the nature of humanity.  Better yet, hand them a copy of Pluto, and let them discover it for themselves.








Don't miss my other Great Graphic Novels

Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura





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