AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — It is becoming a growing trend at libraries. Makerspaces provide equipment and space to work while allowing people to experiment with art projects, perform their own repairs, and even start a business.
The Downtown Branch of the Amarillo Public Library (APL) is joining that trend with a Makerspace of its own.
“The Makerspace accomplishes several goals,” said Ben Wilting, a digital services librarian at APL. “Obviously, people get to work on hobbies and things that might entertain them, but it also offers people the opportunity to learn maybe new job skills, things that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to in their regular lives because of cost or space.”
“It [the Makerspace] is a space where you can come and make things,” said APL’s Public Relations Coordinator, Stacy Clopton. “So this room is going to be filled with sewing machines, with equipment that you can use to make jewelry, with equipment for and tools for painting and sculpting and quilting.”
Clopton said libraries are on the driving edge of Makerspaces, and many of them have been started in public libraries.
“We did research with other libraries that have started Makerspaces. We asked them about their creation, about the equipment that they use, what did they discover, what things did they think they needed that then they found out the public didn’t want that much after all. So we did a lot of research to try to make this the most usable space for our patrons that the capacity be,” said Clopton.
Wilting said they hope to give the community something they would not have anywhere else.
Clopton said they expect people to come in and create things they want to sell or maybe do minor repair work.
“For me, personally, I don’t need to own a sewing machine, but maybe once or twice a year it’d be useful to have access to a sewing machine,” said Clopton. “People who make handcrafted goods to sell on sites, like Etsy, a lot of those people started in a library makerspace.”
One of the many benefits of the space is that the tools and equipment are free to use. All you have to have is your ALP library card. As for the supplies, Wilting said, “We’re still on the fence about certain supplies, paints, hobby supplies that need to be renewed. We’ll probably charge enough so that we can continue to offer those in the space.”
Clopton gave an example: “If you’re coming in and you need to use a lot of fabric and you want to use some of the fabric that we have, there might be a slight charge for that. But the use of the equipment itself, there won’t be a charge for that.”
Wilting said they are asking the community for donations for tools that they may be able to offer in the space.
“That would be basic hobby supplies, general arts and crafts supplies, traditional arts and crafts supplies, like oil painting and sculpting, some minor metal fabrication, minor woodworking, sewing equipment, things of that nature. If anyone has any stuff sitting around the house in their garage that they haven’t used for years, they can give us a call and we’ll let them know if we want it or not,” said Wilting.
If you are interested in donating, contact Ben Wilting at Benjamin.Wilting@amarillolibrary.org or call 806-378-3586.
Clopton said the Makerspace is being built with grants from the Amarillo Area Foundation, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, along with some funds from the Friends of the Amarillo Public Library group.
“Libraries are about making people smarter, more educated, more enriched and enlightened,” said Clopton. “So for us, this is just another level of education that we can provide. We’ll use the Makerspace to teach classes, and so those are things that our patrons will be able to take advantage of.”
Some of the things that will be offered are:
- Sewing machines
- Quilting machines
- Woodworking tools
- Tools for doing small jewelry projects
- Tools & supplies for fine arts like painting or sculpting
“We’re always looking for new ways to serve people in the community in ways that are relevant to them,” said Wilting.
Clopton said they hope to have the Makerspace ready for operation in June.