Tuesday 5 September 2017

Some Musings on Member's Storage

A friend of my mine posted a tweet about member storage in hackspaces/makerspaces and I've written some thoughts about it:

I'm a member of Cambridge Makespace (where I live) and London Hackspace (where I used to live). Both spaces are fairly mature and have a reasonable number of members for their available space. At a Makespace new member induction each new member is told that they may have a Really Useful 35 litre box to store items in (less solvents/flammables). This works really well as they are cheap (~£13), robust and store quite a lot of stuff. We have shelving units in our corridors which take ~15 of these boxes so storing the 200-odd boxes doesn't take up too much room.

However we now have enough members that problems with the system are beginning to show. These seem to be: claiming of permanent workstations, excessive personal storage and large item storage. The first two problems largely seem to be solved with tellings off, we've not progressed to formal disciplinary actions yet. We're currently working on using some unused underfloor 'rooms' as large project storage. You get given a trolley and your project lives on the trolley and is kept in the storage area. This plan is pretty new and I'm sure we'll be finalising the process to include things like project end dates and such.

London Hackspace is quite a bit larger and older than Cambridge Makespace so I've been keeping an eye on their storage processes. They too have members boxes, as well as tightly regimented procedure for storing large items. I like their form for requesting item storage with fields to fill out including contact details, description and end dates however the amount of noise it generates in their Google Group and the lack of a specific place for items to go concerns me. I imagine Makespace will probably 'borrow' the idea of the form and label generation/printing for our system.

One thing I've found invaluable in keeping Makespace usable is the room we call the 'Trove' which is where donated bits and the junk left on tables or over from projects gets stored. It gives a place for items that slot into the 'crap but could be useful, to someone' category can be dumped without cluttering the main work areas. Whenever we run a 'Tidy the Space' event (2-4 times a year) this room gets a clean out. Of course a few people see the room full of junk and think we should get rid of the room and it's contents. Great in theory but then where will the junk end up? Scattered all over the space making it cramped and unusable. By giving it a space it can get thrown in there until it gets sorted.