ITHACA, N.Y. — Whether it’s recording a podcast or 3-D printing inventions, the Makerspace, a new addition to the Tompkins County Public Library, is providing the tools for the community to get creative and learn new skills.
Located across from the BorgWarner Room, the space has work tables, 3-D printers, fully equipped audio booths, a laser cutter, an embroidery machine and other craft tools. That area opens up to a Digital Learning Lab set up like a classroom with laptops and whiteboards.
The space is the library’s way of keeping up with the needs of the community.
“(The Makerspace) ties into our mission of providing access to services,” Kerry Barnes, assistant director of the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation, said. “These are tools people may have an interest in learning and developing their skills on but don’t have the capacity — I think most of us couldn’t have a 3-D printer in our homes just for fun — but this allows people to be able to come in and to learn to use this equipment.”
Librarian Cady Fontana said the space is dynamic and will grow to meet different needs. At small booths on the side of the room, there are microphones and equipment where people could record podcasts or edit videos. Paired with the more high-tech tools are classic supplies like scissors, glue guns, art materials and sewing machines.
The digital lab attached to the Makerspace will have laptops available for people to use. Fontana said there will be classes to meet the needs of a wide range of skill levels — from basic computer use to navigating more specialized programs like Photoshop.
Here is a peek into the new Makerspace:
Currently the space is only open for scheduled group programs, but in the future there will be open office hours with a librarian on hand to answer questions and help with the equipment. Once people take training courses for the new equipment, like the 3-D printers, they will have a note on their library card that will allow them to go in and use the machines without one-on-one help.
The Makerspace was created and funded as part of the 21st Century Library campaign, an effort to modernize the library, which ultimately raised $3.59 million. The results of the campaign can also be seen so far with the addition of the Teen Center and a Local History Room.
With the space comes opportunities for programs for all ages. Recently there was an inter-generational ornament making program that drew dozens of people before the holidays. Coming up there will be a girl coding workshop for middle school-aged students. There is also a jewelry stamping workshop for teens planned in early February. For young library-goers there will be Makerspace “crafternoons,” where children will be able to do hands-on projects.
“It’s fun to have new spaces that we can envision new projects and new uses for,” Fontana said.
One of the first people to use the equipment in the Makerspace is Frances Gallardo, the library’s first artist in residence. Gallardo earned her Master of Fine Arts from Cornell University in 2016 and a bachelor of arts from the University of Puerto Rico. She received an “Artist in Community Grant,” administered by the Community Arts Partnership.
While at the Tompkins County Public Library, Gallardo will be creating a new body of work using paper, fabric and wood that will be featured along the Avenue of Friends at the library. She will also be leading community workshops in the Makerspace. Members of the community can meet Gallardo at the Feb. 2 Gallery Night at the library.
The new space will be a great place for teens to tinker, be creative and experiment with the technology, Regina DeMauro, teen librarian said.
“I’ve been really impressed with the way that we can show them just a little bit of something and then they take it and run with it,” DeMauro said.
Fontana said if people want to start learning 3-D printing, they can try using a free program called Tinkercad.
For information about upcoming classes, visit tcpl.org.