Library hopes for permanent Maker Studio after success

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By Savannah Swix
Entirely East Lansing

East Lansing Public Library opened the first Maker Studio at the library in September of 2014. A few weeks later, it opened a second pop-up space in the Marriott at University Place on Oct. 1. After months of success, the library is planning and fundraising to open a larger and permanent studio.

The Maker Studio at the East Lansing Public Library.

The Maker Studio at the East Lansing Public Library.

“The success has been phenomenal. I think in the press release we said we’ve had over 1,500 people, so now that’s probably up to 1,700 people … People have really responded to it, much more than we thought they would,” said Lauren Douglass, head of technological services at East Lansing Public Library.

The Maker Studio at the Marriott was opened as a temporary location meant to last through the end of February. Due to its achievement, it’s been extended to July 31.

Library Director Kristin Shelley said that this studio has accumulated the most traffic in comparison to the studio at the library.

“We drove our traffic to that one. We wanted that to be the focal point because what we’re trying to do is build a permanent Maker space, which will be underneath the colorful parking garage downtown,” said Shelley. “The pop-up one was to see if there would be interest for the community and they’ve certainly shown it.”

Objects printed by the 3D printer at the library.

Objects printed by the 3D printer at the library.

The Maker Studio at the library is equipped with two Mac computers, Adobe Creative Suite, music recording and production equipment including a MIDI keyboard, the ability to podcast and more. Shelley said that the most popular has been the 3D printing.

“Whenever we’re open, we have staff that can help with 3D printing,” said Shelley. “It’s open during library hours, but we do ask that people make a reservation because we want them to have a staff member with them to start them out.”

All of these services are free apart from 3D printing, which is priced at 10 cents per gram of plastic used.

The Maker Studio at the Marriott has space for more activities and equipment. This studio supplies sewing machines, two community looms, a Lego room, a variety of art supplies as well as four 3D printers.

Joe Carr displays objects produced at the studio in the Marriott.

Joe Carr displays the objects produced by the 3D printer at the studio in the Marriott.

Technology Specialist Joe Carr said that the Maker Studios enable people the opportunity to learn and try something new.

“East Lansing definitely has a lot of things going on, a lot of restaurants, a lot of really cool shops, this is a different type of community engagement,” said Carr. “It can be a fun experience for you to learn something without even really realizing it.”

Douglass said the community deserves a permanent Maker Studio.

“I think it would be a good idea because there’s so much knowledge in this community that for it to really thrive, it can’t just be library staff. It has to be welders coming in who want to teach a welding class,” said Douglass. “There’s no real space for that and with so much intellectual capital, not only because of the university, but because so many people live here (and have) so many skills, there needs to be a place where that can be shared.”

Despite the staff’s desire to get this new studio up-and-running, Shelley said fundraising is at a bit of a standstill as the library has only raised $10,000 of its $1.5 million goal.

Shelley hopes that a permanent and even bigger Maker Studio will allow the ability to host more public events and increase interest among classes and individual students at Michigan State University and local schools.

“It’s a space where people can come and create on their own and rather than consuming information from the library through our books and materials, this gives our library users the ability to produce information as well,” said Shelley.

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