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Turning A Library Into A Maker Space

If you think libraries are just about checking out books, you’re in the wrong century. A new feature of one Connecticut library is a place where people can come play with 3-D printers, creating instead of just consuming.

The next time someone tells you that libraries have no function because of the growing popularity of e-readers, direct them towards the Westport Library—a Connecticut library that just opened a MakerSpace—a place where people can tinker and create projects—for the local community. Because in case you haven’t taken a trip to your local library recently, libraries are no longer just for books.

The idea for the maker space sprang from a Mini Maker Faire that drew over 2,200 people. The library’s website explains: "The establishment of a MakerSpace was a natural continuation of a clear interest in the Maker movement. The MakerSpace is where people can create content as well as also consume it—an incubator for ideas and entrepreneurship."

The MakerSpace, which opened in early July, will always have a maker-in-residence. That title is currently held by Joseph Schott, who is is building a pair of 15-foot wooden airplanes modeled on the Gee Bee Speedster racing planes from the 1930s. Schott is using the library’s brand-new 3-D printer to help print materials for the project. Library patrons are encouraged to help—as Shareable points out, one patron recently printed a wench to speed up the plane fabrication.

Most of July and August is being dedicated to the wooden airplane project, but there are some other events coming up in the MakerSpace, including a zombie t-shirt silkscreening workshop, a first generation Nintendo console rehab workshop, and a workshop where kids can create LED-illuminated headbands and wristbands.

Westport isn’t the only town to have a MakerSpace in its library. The Fayetteville Free Library ,located in Fayetteville, New York is working on a 3-D printing lab, complete with a MakerBot Thing-o-Matic 3D printer.