Westerly Sun Column | Let Creativity Run Wild in the Makerspace

January 23, 2023

I’m interested in designing and making a necklace for my daughter.

I have a bunch of old family videos on VHS, but I only have a DVD player.

I want to hem my pants, but don’t have a sewing machine.

You may not think to come to the library with requests like this, but for Morgan, our new technology and innovation coordinator, they are an everyday occurrence. And what’s more: she CAN actually help with all of them, thanks to the fantastic equipment in our Makerspace, and the knowledge of our staff.

The concept of a Makerspace is still relatively new, and ours was introduced in 2016. If you’re not familiar, it’s more or less exactly what it sounds like: a place to make things. All makerspaces differ a bit, but they offer a variety of tools and technology that can be freely used by the public for creative purposes — tools that are not always easily accessible! In our Makerspace, you’ll find equipment to convert VHS to DVD, records and cassettes to digital formats, and a station for converting old slides or negatives to the computer. There are art supplies for painting, coloring, jewelry-making, and more. We have photo editing and CAD (computer-aided design) software, a sewing machine, and — our most popular piece of equipment — a laser cutter/engraver called the Glowforge. The latter has been used to create signs, engrave tile, make jewelry, and a whole range of awesome one-of-a-kind gifts that people have come up with. All of these are freely available, but we do suggest making an appointment with us, especially if you require staff support along the way.

While there are plenty of opportunities to work solo, the Makerspace is also a collaborative space, where you can learn from and with others. A Quilting Group, which is open to beginners and experts and everyone in-between, meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month. We also have a new Maker Club, which meets monthly and is open to all ages and abilities. At each meeting you are given a new challenge (like marble drops and mousetrap racers!), which you have a month to complete and bring back to the next meeting to demonstrate to the group. You can keep it simple, or go full Rube Goldberg! It’s great for current and retired engineers, as well as anyone interested in STEM and being creative with their hands.

If you haven’t yet visited our Makerspace, I urge you to swing through on your next visit to the library. From the front entrance, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to the computer lab, and through there you’ll see the large, glass doors, which will likely be open and waiting for you!

by Cassie Skobrak, Adult Services Librarian

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