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Innovation brought to Norfolk with Makerspace

September 9, 2018

Makerspace can make learning fun.

It can spark imaginations by incorporating a range of activities, using high-tech tools and materials to create all types of products from 3-D objects to personalized glassware or engraved awards.

Jessica Chamberlain, Norfolk Public Library director, said there are a total of six stations and nine mobile kits in the Makerspace currently on loan.

The mobile kits are less intense and more appropriate for a younger age than the stations, she said. The stations are for such things as making buttons or laminating items.

The stations also require more training that can take up to an hour to become certified, and include such things as a 3-D printer or laser engraving. People can sign up for the training at www.norfolkne.gov/library.

The official grand opening for the stations and kits will take place on Monday, Sept. 10, with an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday.

Chamberlain said the open house will include demonstrations and example projects.

The equipment is free to use, but patrons may be asked to provide their own materials for some of the stations, such as their own T-shirt for creating a T-shirt design.

There will be a small fee for the use of materials needed for some of the equipment as well.

Last week, the Norfolk Public Library staff got trained on how to use the stations and kits. This week, they practiced and did more training. Many of them now will be involved in training patrons.

The items will be here for five months through mid-January of 2019.

JoAnn McManus of the Nebraska Library Commission was one of three from the commission who helped to train staff. Also attending was Max Wheeler, who works for Nebraska Innovation Studios, but has been hired to help with the projects.

Norfolk is one of 30 libraries in the state to receive the grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Among the area towns that were selected were Atkinson and Neligh.

All the communities had to be under 25,000 people, so Norfolk barely made the cut.

“Actually, most of our libraries that were selected are closer to 1,000 or 2,000 people,” McManus said.

McManus said Makerspaces are getting more popular in larger libraries. Part of the idea with the grant is to bring this equipment and material to smaller communities.

It helps to bring innovation and creativity in people of all ages. Sometimes it also results in a community finding sponsors to purchase a laser cutter or 3-D printer, depending on what proves to be popular with the locals.

“Kids love it,” she said, “but we’re also hoping to spur some entrepreneurship.”

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