How Libraries Are Becoming Modern Makerspaces

While traveling around the country for the American Futures project, I was always on the lookout for makerspaces in town libraries. I found one right here, in my own backyard, at the flagship of the D.C. public-library system, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

So, I signed up for a tour of their Fab Lab. At my Saturday afternoon tour, I joined a standing-room-only crowd of some 30 people, from 20-something hobbyists to budding entrepreneurs, including a family with their homeschooled pre-teens.

Schaeffer with a maker’s bent wire (Deb Fallows / The Atlantic)
Adam Schaeffer, the hip Library Associate and a perfect match to the accessible, collaborative culture of makerspaces, gave the tour. He introduced us to the eight 3-D printers, four of which were named Kevin Spacey, Dr. Stephen Nash (I googled him; he is a professor of Systems Engineering and Operations Research at George Mason University, right here in Northern Virginia), Johnny Pie (I googled him; this is a handle for a contributor to Reddit.), and Maria the Metropolis (a robot from the 1927 sci-fi film, Metropolis). Since heavily-used, new technology like these printers are in frequent need of monitoring and repair, the lab staffers are on a first-name basis with them.

We saw the laser scanner and the laser cutter, which can etch metals, or cut cardboard, wood, paper, and even pumpkins, one of which Adam passed around. There was a wire bender, named Fender Bender Rodriguez. There was a milling machine that can make prototypes of wood or plastics or even soft aluminum.

There was a tool station along one wall, which looked more like your childhood basement tool shop, with lots of super glue, duct tape, how-to inspirational books and magazine, and a collection of old-fashioned tools. If you’re lucky, you can join Adam’s Coffee Club, a coffee station using beans sourced from spots all around DC.

Read the full article @ The Atlantic

Image CC Do Space

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