FLPL is excited to open The Collaboratory, the library’s new makerspace, on Saturday, July 16, with a special preview event. From 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, come by the library to try out and see demos of 3D printing, music and sound recording, green screen photography, and robotics, plus enjoy other hands-on activities. The event is free, and there will be activities for all ages.
The Collaboratory has been in the works at the library for about two years. Many libraries across the nation have been opening makerspaces, which emphasize hands-on learning and provide the place, the tools, and the training for people to work on their own projects. The Collaboratory is specifically focused on supplying technology for visual design, sound, video, robotics, and computer programming, but it may expand in the future to meet other community needs.
“Libraries are about learning, and there are so many different ways to learn, including hands-onexperience and training with technology and tools,” says FLPL Executive Director Nancy Sanford. “It’s our job as a library to find innovative ways to help people in our community learn.”
The Collaboratory will provide free access to technology–such as a 3D printer and music and video recording equipment–that many in the Shoals would be unable to afford on their own or wouldn’t have space for in their homes. Anyone with a library card in good standing will be able to use The Collaboratory for free, although there will be charges for activities such as 3D printing to cover the cost of consumable materials.
FLPL Technology Librarian James Mitchell, who is the manager of The Collaboratory, is passionate about the need for makerspaces in a community. “People will be able to use The Collaboratory to create printed objects, videos, or recordings for a new business or for school. But they can also just come to play and explore,” says Mitchell. “Tinkering is an important part of learning, and The Collaboratory will be a supportive environment where people can be comfortable to tinker and experiment with tools they’ve never used before.”
The kickoff event on July 16 will provide a hands-on preview of Collaboratory equipment. After the launch, The Collaboratory will have open “Tinker Time” hours, when you can stop by without appointment to explore and try out the equipment. You can also make an appointment to use the equipment for a block of time, and starting in September, the library will offer workshops so you can get started making. To make an appointment or to learn more about The Collaboratory, contact James Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 256-764-6564, ext. 37. Keep up with events in The Collaboratory by liking its Facebook page at www.facebook.org/FLPLCollaboratory.