The Harold Washington Library in Chicago has just announced the grand opening of their new Maker Lab. The lab contains three MakerBot Replicator2 Desktop 3D printers along with a milling machine, a vinyl cutter and two laser cutters. The library also has the software available to design projects for the 3D printers. Anyone living in the Chicago area can use their library card to gain access to the free lab and out of town guests are welcome too.
Over the last few weeks the staff at the Chicago Public Library has been playing around with the machines to create demo pieces. They wanted to give visitors some ideas about what can be done with the technology. Right now they have everything from wooden iPhone docks to 3D printed chess pieces on display.
"We have our own pre-set ideas of what people are going to want to make and what will draw people in, but we also just want them to be exposed to new tools and technology," CPL's First Deputy Commissioner Andrea Sáenz said. "If the lab is super popular, there is a possibility for a larger space in this building, or we could take it to another branch where folks in that neighborhood would be able to use that kind of thing."
Unfortunately, the new Maker Lab is grant funded and may not be permanent. At the end of the year the library staff plans to evaluate the success of the project and decide whether to keep it, scrap it or expand it.
"We can decide if the maker space makes sense for the library, period. We'll ask ourselves, does it fit nicely into this whole informal learning environment that we're trying to create?" Sáenz said.
The community response has been tremendous so far. They've received a flood of calls and emails about the lab and the news is traveling fast online.
"There's more buzz about this on social media than anything we've everdone," Sáenz said.
If you are interested in visiting the new Maker Lab you can check out the library's official webpage. They have a number of events planned for August and September and every Sunday they host a family day to get children under fourteen involved.