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The Collaboratory Opens Saturday With Launch Event

July 13, 2016
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Collaboratory at FLPL Logoblog image columnFLPL 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 or at 256-764-6564, ext. 37. Keep up with events in The Collaboratory by liking its Facebook page at

Lauch Extravaganza flyer



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How the Friends of the Library #ServetheShoals

April 26, 2016
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Friends volunteer Kay Eddens working at the desk at the Friends Bookstore

April is National Volunteer Month, and our community has stepped up our celebration with a #ServetheShoals social media campaign. As part of this campaign, FLPL is stepping up our celebration of our indispensable volunteer group: the Friends of the Library.

The Friends of the Library is a nonprofit organization that raises money to make the library better. Their primary source of fundraising, in addition to membership dues, is the Friends Bookstore, which is run completely by volunteers.

Think of all the work it takes to manage and staff a store. Now imagine every single person who works at the store is a volunteer, working for free because they believe that free access to books, learning, and technology can change people’s lives.

That is how remarkable our Friends are.


New Nonfiction is just one of the library collections that the Friends provide funding for

Each year, the Friends contribute between $80,000 and $90,000 to library collections, programs, and projects. Every one of those dollars was raised by volunteers stocking books, working the register, managing membership drives, and more.

Do your kids enjoy learning, reading, and earning prizes during our
Summer Reading Programs? Thank the Friends of the Library, who contribute funds every year to Summer Reading.

Has your teen met new friends, discovered a renewed love of reading, or
learned to create podcasts as part of our Teen Program? The Friends provided the start-up money to initiate the Teen Program, and they
continue to support it.


Teens learn computer coding skills at the library. FLPL was able to start its Teen Program because of the Friends, who provided funding for start-up costs.

Do you or a parent or grandparent like to read our large-print books, which make
it easier for senior citizens and people with impaired eyesight to continue to read?
The Friends provide funds each year to buy books for our Large Print collection.

Do you enjoy the convenience of checking out library ebooks from your own device,
no matter where you are? Thank the Friends, who sponsor our subscription to OverDrive.

Do you ever use the library’s public computers? Thank the Friends. Do you attend library programs and exhibits? Thank the Friends. Do you like browsing and
reading our New Nonfiction collection? Thank the Friends.

It is impossible to overstate how important the Friends are to FLPL. Quite simply,
this would be a different place without them. So many of the services, resources,
and programs we offer every day are available directly because of their work and generosity.

So here’s our message to the Friends: Thank you. If you are a member of the Friends, have worked at the Bookstore, or have even shopped at the Bookstore,
then you have made the library better. And in doing so, you have made the community better. Thank you for serving the Shoals.

The Friends of the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library is  501(c)3 organization. You can join the Friends by
filling out this form or stopping by the Bookstore, which is located on the first floor of the library, beside Bookmarks Coffee Shop.


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November 25, 2015
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Florence-Lauderdale Public Library is making space for a new creative lab! A grant from the Library Foundation will make it possible for the library to open up a space on the second floor for a digital production lab. This space will specialize in the areas of audio, picture, and design. Access to video production, studio photography, sound recording, and 3D printing equipment are now perks of library membership. This is a major undertaking for FLPL and will take time to install, but the staff is ecstatic for the possibilities. Artists, entrepreneurs, students, and innovators will all have tools available to them to help take projects to the next level.

The library is also hiring a new staff member to help manage and teach this new technology to the public. This person will be able to hold patrons’ hands and encourage them to boldly pursue these new possibilities. Do you know a person with the technology know-how and people skills to run a public digital creation space? Encourage them to apply here

See more information in this Times Daily article.

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