VAIL — A library used to be a place where records — books, periodicals and recordings — were stored. But Liz Willhoff, Vail’s circulation and programming librarian, wants to change that. Through a new project, called the Makerspace initiative, she hopes the library will become a place where people create things as well.
After a recent renovation of the library building, a free room was left unused in the basement that Willhoff and other librarians thought would make a great place for people to create, collaborate, innovate and get hands-on experience in a variety of projects — all with the help of experts and resources provided by the library.
What they’ll make is still to be determined, but the library plans to start with the purchase of a 3D printer, and Charles Overy, CEO of LGM in Minturn, will start things off with a presentation Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Vail Library. He will give an hour-long introduction to 3D printing, and answer common questions such as: What is 3D printing? How does it work? How can I get involved? He will explore the process and technology of 3D printing and show audiences a printer in action.
Wave of the future
LGM creates architectural models, and Overy said the company has been using digital printing to do so for the last decade. Previously hand-built prototypes or models were time consuming and costly to build, but using 3D printing cuts time, cost in some cases and creates a more exact product. Overy explained that there are different kinds of 3D printers and “ink,” depending on what you’re making. Just like you’d have a different printer to print office documents, payroll receipts and newspapers, there are different 3D printers for what you’re making.
“You enter the digital geometry, much like a cat scan for an object, and then you print to make layers,” said Overy. “At the presentation I’ll talk about the ways people have come up to do this – often it’s a hardened gooey polymer that comes out of a glue gun-like material on the end of a robot arm. It’s kind of like making things from frosting. You could make a chocolate rose. In fact, people are starting to use them in the culinary world that way.”
The Makerspace initiative
This idea of a Makerspace is a national trend that many libraries are trying out. Some Makerspace programs center around art, providing the instruction and resources to make pottery, scrapbook or woodwork. One Denver library even has a studio for video production.
What makes the Makerspace programs more than just a studio, however, is that it also recruits experts in the community to instruct and help people with their projects. Don’t know the first thing about 3D printing? No problem, experts like Overy and some students from Battle Mountain High School have already committed to being coaches.
“Some would call it a community center,” said Vail Town Librarian Lori Barnes. “This pretty much provides the community with a tool they might not otherwise have, like a 3D printer. Individuals with like interests can come together to collaborate and get their hands on things. It’s great for people who aren’t as tech-savvy because it’s a safe place to learn and experiment.”
The details of the program are still being worked out. The library is deciding which printer to get, and likely use of the facilities will be by appointment.
The goal of the program, said Willhoff, is to draw more people to the library.
“With Makerspace, you’ll always get some of the population that wouldn’t come to the library to get a book,” she said. “Ww want to be relevant. The people who are excited about this are teens and young adults, and if we can get more young people in the library, more power to us.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.