Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
The Combined Arms Research Library is encouraging library patrons to indulge their creative side with the addition of a makerspace in room C112 of the library.
“A lot of libraries are moving away from your standard collection of books and physical items to check out, and they are moving more toward digital items, online resources and collaborative spaces where the community members can come in and utilize tools to help meet their needs,” said Nora Walker, CARL community library technician.
Makerspaces are an initiative available in public and academic libraries around the United States, Walker said.
Funds for CARL’s makerspace, which opened in September, were provided by Installation Management Command.
“Many of the Army (Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation) libraries have received makerspace funds previously and already have spaces set up for patrons,” said Susan Plotner, CARL digitization librarian. “This was the first year that CARL received the funds, and we were excited by the opportunity to expand the services we offer to our community.”
The Command and General Staff College Foundation also donated supplies to the makerspace.
The makerspace includes a Cricut cutting machine, which allows the user to cut out different shapes for scrapbooking and other projects; a green screen; a photo booth kit; Lego sets; three-dimensional pens; an AccuCut shapes and die-cutting machine; and various science, technology, engineering and mathematics-themed kits.
“We’re a low-tech makerspace, so the few items that we do have that require technology, like the green screen and the photo booth kit, we require you to bring in your own equipment,” Walker said. “You would need your own smartphone with a camera or you would need your own camera.
“We don’t provide the materials, but we provide the tools for them to be able to make their projects,” Walker said. “We are not a dedicated community library, so we don’t have a ton of staffing to support that. … This is more of a do-it-yourself, use-it-yourself makerspace versus reserving equipment and taking classes, which is what other makerspaces are in other libraries. There is no set standard of what a makerspace is. It is really more about what you can offer to your community, what you think your community needs, and what you think they’ll enjoy.”
Other supplies patrons provide, include heat-transfer vinyl and paper.
Walker said there are also pop-up makerspace events each month. As part of the Fantober celebration in October, children ages 12 and up, created superhero insignia magnets and 3-D Pikachus with 3-D pens.
In November, CARL is partnering with Harrold Youth Center to make do-it-yourself gifts and ornaments for Christmas. Date and time are yet to be determined.
“The age limit is 12 and up because the (3-D pens) do reach 410 degrees (Fahrenheit), and it takes some very explicit instruction,” Walker said.
Walker said she is also hoping to incorporate monthly challenges, which will give patrons specific goals to work toward.
However, overall, Walker and Plotner agreed that they hope the space encourages families to be creative together.
“In general, I think it is an added space where people can come and collaborate and spend time and be interactive with their kids other than sitting in the kids’ room and reading,” Walker said.
“Our makerspace has hands-on projects that are meant to stimulate innovative thinking,” Plotner said. “We hope that some of our families will use this as a resource to stimulate learning.”
Makerspace is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for patrons to use the equipment. Room reservations for the larger makerspace equipment, such as the green screen and for group use, can be made by calling (913) 758-3041. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance.
Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.