Medfield Library to open new makerspace

A screenshot of Sprout PC program ‘Tinkercad’ shows a 3D model pattern that can be used to create a final 3D-printed product. Photos by Geena Matuson

By Geena Matuson
Hometown Weekly Staff

With the new Friends Bookstore moved to the main level of Medfield Public Library, what will take its place in the library’s lower level? Shelving and walls are coming down, and throughout May and early June the space once home to the bookstore is transforming into something new: a makerspace. Makerspaces are collaborative environments full of new technology, software and crafting tools for creating and hands-on learning. The Medfield Library is no stranger to new technology and associated programming, between its current 3D printer and the large display of tools and technology available for check-out. However, the library’s catalog is expanding and therefore more space is required; the new lower-level makerspace will be home to all of the library’s great tools and technology resources.

Director Kristen Chin has brought immeasurable innovation to the library over the last two years, and is always looking for ways to keep the library relevant and fun while also focusing on education and learning. Both the library and its new makerspace are a testament to STEAM innovation, as “the makerspace will evolve based on patron interests,” Kristen explains. “This is a space for children and adults to come and use new technologies and older crafting skills to make new things, hence the name ‘makerspace.'”

Thanks to the generous funding provided by Medfield Lions Club, new structural items such as countertops and a half-glass door will create a feeling of an open environment, organized and structured for all of the new technology to be included in the space. But what should this new space be called? The library is looking for the community's ideas, and residents can submit your makerspace name suggestion into a box at the library.

This exciting new addition to the library will be headed by a new Makerspace Committee including Director Kristen Chin, with Adult Services and Technology Librarian Pam, Technology Assistant Jae, and Paralibrarian Matt, commonly known as ‘3D Printer Guru.’

While still in the planning stages, the makerspace is set to offer Sprout; two 3D printers; a wood burning kit; button maker; Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutter or ‘vinyl cutter’; sewing machine; devices for digital transfer such as VHS to DVD transfer, slide to digital photograph scanner, vinyl turntable to digital music file transfer; and use of nearby kitchen allowing for additional programming.

The team has been meeting to discuss policies, configuration, events and access to the space, which will not only consist of hands-on technology, but will also host events and classes. A new pass-through kitchen, leading to a connected meeting room, can be utilized for cooking classes and crafts such as wet felting, painting, and more. Additionally, staff will always be available to teach and assist in the space, adding to the experience. Numerous class ideas are being tossed around such as knitting and embroidery, sewing workshops, and coding classes.

While excited about the makerspace overall, the creative team had a few words to say about some of their favorite new technologies that will be offered. Matt explains that the “Sprout is an interactive PC with two touch-screens and projector, making it easy to do quick on-the-fly 3D modeling.” Sprout can be used for printed graphics, overhead scanning, and 3D modeling features such as creating patterns for printing. You can look to the keychains and magnets Matt printed with interested patrons for a library event held on May 11 to see some of the creations being patterned on Sprout. The touch-based PC responds to a pen or hand, and can also be used to create vector art and graphics. Sprout software "Lightstrobe" allows image-down projections for tracing and modeling, and program "Tinkercad" is a simple 3D design program with available lessons. Matt stresses that no prior experience with design or 3D printing is necessary; the machine is simple, and its move to the makerspace will show patrons that its use is all about exploring new ideas. Matt also touched on the 3D printers that will be housed in the new makerspace such as the new Prusa I3 Mk2, which patrons can use to make their own 3D-printed items. The wood burning kit and rotary dremel will also allow small-scale manufacturing or 3D print clean-up, such as sanding or melting plastic.

Librarian Pam was most excited about the new Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutter, the Cameo 3 model digital printer that many associate with vinyl cutting. However, this printer is capable of more than simply cutting paper or vinyl, and “uses the precision of digital design with more traditional hand crafting,” Pam notes. Able to cut through card stock and fabric, one can create patterns, stencils and more, “for example, you could cut out stencils and use etching cream to make personalized wine glasses,” Pam suggested. The list of ideas is endless, ranging from its ability to handle heat transfer materials for printing onto tote bags to the creation of simple cards and paper flowers, this new tool will be a great and fun addition to the makerspace.

The space aims to be completed by late June this year, with a grand opening to follow. The library is looking for volunteers and helpers for new classes, such as sewing, cooking, crafting, and people experienced with the new technology. Additionally, donations and new ideas are always appreciated, including functional sewing machines, and materials such as fabrics and knitting items. To learn more about Medfield Public Library, visit http://www.medfieldpubliclibrary.org or check out the great catalog of resources available by visiting the library in person at 468 Main Street in Medfield.

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