By Christopher Hauler
Entirely East Lansing
The moment had finally come. More than 60 people had crammed the studio, citizens were creating tie-dye t-shirts and crafts, learning how to sew, constructing Lego castles and children ran around with painted faces. Library Director Kristin Shelley said it was a dream come true.
That dream was realized after an anonymous donor gave the library money to establish a Maker Space on the second floor of the Marriott hotel. According to library officials, makerspaces are community centers with tools, supplies, computers and software that allow community members to design, prototype and manufacture in a collaborative space.
“The Maker Space is a place where the community can come create and create together,” said Shelley. “We can build and develop, and not just as individuals, but together as a community and build up the city.”
Features include 3D printing, sewing lessons, bike repairs, crafts, a messy projects room and a Lego room. The space will run until the end of February as a pilot project, but Shelley said she hopes enough expansion will occur to create a permanent studio after the initial five month period.
East Lansing has become just the second library in Michigan after Detroit to have a Maker studio.
“We are absolutely proud of that,” said City Clerk Marie Wicks. “Everyone has an artistic impression and this is something in the community that is for everyone.”
The idea to add this space was three years in the making with Shelley saying that her vision was to expand the library and offer the public something other than just print books.
“We needed to retool ourselves and become far more than just brick and mortar libraries and far more than books,” said Shelley. “The Maker Space is that next space. It’s a great, great thing for the city of East Lansing.”
The East Lansing public library is accepting donations to put toward developing a permanent studio once the funded time period is up. Individuals can donate at the Maker Space, in the library or online at elpl.org.
“This is really creating a pathway where people can learn and become engaged in the idea of being a maker, a doer and an entrepreneur at a very young age,” said Mayor Nathan Triplett.