- Todd Jones
If you haven't been to the makerspaces at Library 21c, then you're probably not up to speed on the potential for crafting all sorts of items at this community resource. Makerspaces are rooms with equipment available for people to create anything from scrapbooks to furniture. In one of its two makerspace rooms, the library offers light-duty crafting tools like sewing machines, papercraft supplies and a vinyl cutter. The other hosts more heavy-duty gear, including 3D scanners and printers, a laser engraving machine, and a computer-controlled milling machine.
"PPLD added a new floor to the East Library, too, and they've got a Maker area now. We're expanding," says Daniel Perez, one of 21c's instructional librarians. He's in charge of teaching technology so people can use the resources the makerspace provides. What he's really excited about is how the program has evolved.
"It's more hands-on than it was two years ago," he says. "Before, someone would come in, tell us what they wanted, and we'd basically do it for them. Sometimes there'd be up to a hundred people waiting. But now, you come in and get certified, and you can use the equipment yourself."
The library teaches a broad range of classes, from 3D sculpting and digital modeling, to beginning sewing..
"We get a lot of local schoolkids, and a lot of retired engineers," Perez says, "but there isn't a specific 'type' of person who comes in." The spaces will often have senior citizens working right alongside middle- and high-school students.
The products patrons turn out are just as wide-ranging as the people who use the spaces. They do everything from prototyping to attending adult coloring book meetings. Some people make their own board games using the laser etcher, while others use the equipment to replace or repair household items that are no longer sold, like vacuum cleaner wheels.
"There's an antique dealer who used to come in to reproduce broken parts, and another person who makes etched buttons and badges that she sells as part of her business," says Perez.
With the exception of the 3D printers (and they have several types to choose from), patrons need to bring their own materials. The library charges 5 cents per gram for 3D filament for the printers. Check out class and space availability hours online, at ppld.org, or pick up a calendar at the library.