Wood carvings, embroidery, buttons and music.
Those are just a sample of what can be created at the Chadron Public Library for the next six months while it hosts a traveling makerspace through Innovation Studio. The equipment was debuted to the public last week.
“You can record drum beats … piano… you can pull sound files off the internet, you can make podcasts,” said Allen Kissack, who provided demonstrations of the music studio set up in the library’s annex. “You can do really simple stuff and it’s easy to use.”
The music studio consists of a mini keyboard, a sound box and a computer, all used to make whatever compositions users want.
Also located in the annex are a sewing machine, complete with an embroidery attachment, and a router for making wood carvings.
Back in the main library, there are several more machines to inspire creations, including a vinyl cutter, a 3D printer, a laser cutter, a heat press, a camera kit with a green screen, a Makey Makey set-up, Lego Mindstorms and more.
The vinyl cutter allows users to make multi-layered stickers up to 24 inches in size, using CorelDRAW software to create the designs in either positive or negative. The library has vinyl in a variety of colors for sale to use with the machine, said Susan Rolfsmeier. Or patrons can bring their own vinyl and use the machine at no cost.
“It’s very much like a blueprint plotter, only it uses a knife instead of a pen,” she said.
Downstairs in the children’s library, kids were enjoying the Lego Mindstorms and creating buttons of their own designs. The makerspace equipment provides opportunities for users of all ages and interests to participate in hands-on activities, said Library Director Rosella Tesch.
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“From the most artistic to the musical to the mathematically inclined, there is something for everyone,” she said.
The button making machine was a popular attraction during the open house, and is a simple way to start with the Innovation Studio equipment.
“This is a way to introduce people to making,” Tesch said. “Everybody can make a button. Then you can move on.”
The library was selected to host the makerspace stations through a grant from the Nebraska Library Commission. The $530,732 National Leadership grant to the commission from the Institute of Museum and Library Services allowed 18 libraries to host makerspaces last year. Chadron is one of nine libraries selected in the first award cycle for 2019.
The stations, made possible by the Nebraska Innovation Studio, will add to the opportunities the library already offers through classes and the availability of two 3D printers. It will also allow the library and its supporters to explore ideas for future additions to the facility, as current expansion discussions have included a makerspace. Library staff will use the next six months to judge interest in the various machines in an effort to determine what investments the library might like to make on a permanent basis.
“Hopefully, people will get interested, have fun and explore,” Tesch said.
The grant also provided training for seven individuals, including library staff, volunteers and after-school personnel in May.
The makerspace includes six stations and nine mobile kits in total, though the Chadron Library is a temporary home to just four of the stations and six of the mobile kits. An additional 3D printer, a laser cutter, vinyl cutter and embroidery machine are the stations the library will set up, while the mobile kits include the Lego Mindstorms robot kit, a laminator kit, the Arduino Starter kit, which teaches programming skills, the Makey Makey kit, which allows individuals to turn ordinary objects into touchpads and connect them to the internet, and a button maker kit.
The public must receive special instruction before library members can use any of the equipment. The Nebraska Library Commission requires training for anyone wishing to use the makerspace studio, Tesch said. The library is currently taking sign-ups for the trainings, which include videos, demonstrations and a checklist to ensure that each patron understands the equipment and safety precautions. Once a patron has completed the training, their name will be entered into a certification database, which allows them to reserve time on the equipment for which they are certified. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult while working with the makerspace equipment.